For Weatherbie, no negatives on horizon Navy's personnel losses can't dent his confidence

August 11, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Navy football coach Charlie Weatherbie must have spent part of the summer reading up on the history of the academy, its graduates and some of the choice things they uttered before, during and after epic battles.

Picture Day opened practice yesterday and Weatherbie made like Adm. Farragut -- "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" -- during his assessment of the upcoming season.

To review, the Mids lost 10 of 11 defensive starters to graduation and, as far as last season's offense is concerned, it departed with quarterback Chris McCoy, who took about two dozen school records with him.

Still, it was with what bordered on supreme confidence that the coach said: "We'll be better than last year's [7-4] team. This is the most talented bunch of players we've had since I've been coaching here [three seasons]. We have better team speed with more depth, and the incoming freshmen are as good a recruiting class as we've had."

Bring on Army, Air Force, Notre Dame, West Virginia and the rest of them, including Wake Forest, which the Mids will play in their road opener Sept. 10.

"While it's true we have a lot of holes to fill," said Weatherbie, tempering his remarks only slightly, "we don't see it as rebuilding; we're reloading.

"While we're starting out with no-name players, we've got a lot of really talented people. We have players with experience; they just didn't start last year. I think what our fans are going to see is a go-get-'em defense and a wide-open offense."

Finally to the question at hand, what's going to happen now that McCoy, who made the pass passe as far as the option offense was concerned, is gone?

The quarterback situation is this: Junior Steve Holley is No. 1 on the depth chart starting daily drills. His immediate backup is senior Jon Limbert; then, it's sophomore Brian Broadwater, up from the scout team. All are faster runners than McCoy.

"But what you have to remember is Chris was rather elusive," Holley deadpanned. "When you come down to it, you really don't replace anyone. You move on and do what you know how to do.

"I have to find a way to be effective, to get the ball in the hands of the wide receivers so we can be a lot more balanced than we have been. There will be a lot of comparisons made [this season as against last] and the key will be the quarterback; it'll be up to him to make things go. I think I'm up to it."

The coach thinks so, too.

"With the players we have," said Weatherbie, "we've got a chance to be more successful throwing the ball than we have been in the [immediate] past."

Which isn't saying a lot, considering the Mids put the ball up only 18 percent of the time last season while running 757 plays offensively, averaging just 113 yards a game in the air.

Navy 1998 schedule

Date Opponent Time

9/10 at Wake Forest 8

9/19 Kent 7

9/26 at Tulane 6

10/3 West Virginia Noon

10/10 at Air Force 2

10/17 Colgate Noon

10/24 at Boston College TBA

11/7 Rutgers Noon

11/14 Notre Dame* 3: 30

11/21 SMU Noon

12/5 Army# Noon

*-at Landover

#-at Philadelphia

Pub Date: 8/11/98

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