For W. Virginia, Mids going back to basics Weatherbie second-guesses changes made for Tulane

Navy notebook

September 30, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

The Navy football team will simplify its offense and defense for its meeting with 16th-ranked West Virginia on Saturday after coach Charlie Weatherbie second-guessed his strategy in the Midshipmen's 42-24 loss to Tulane last week.

"Defensively, we changed things for Tulane, and shouldn't have," said Weatherbie. "We tried to stop the pass more than we usually do. We've got to go back to trying to first stopping the run."

Navy's game plan against Tulane was geared to controlling quarterback Shaun King, who, in the absence of pressure and with his quick release, completed 17 of 22 passes for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

But the Mids, who pride themselves on stopping the run, also allowed Tulane's Jamaican Dartez to break loose for 114 yards on only 17 carries.

Offensively, Weatherbie said he should have been more of a gambler against the dangerous Green Wave.

In the second quarter, Navy faced fourth-and-one from the 18 and later fourth-and-goal from the 1. Each time, Weatherbie chose to kick a field goal, resulting in successful conversions by Tom Vanderhorst.

"We should have gone for it both times," said Weatherbie. "Maybe I'm not giving my offense enough credit to make it on fourth down. I know that Vanderhorst is almost a sure thing inside the 30, but I think we'll be going for it [short yardage] more often from now on."

While losing two of their first three, the Midshipmen have averaged 25 points, but this has been nullified by eight turnovers, including five interceptions.

"We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot," said Weatherbie. 'We can't overcome give-aways unless we get some takeaways. We can't just throw the ball up for grabs. We have to be more aware of what we're doing."

Offensively, West Virginia poses an even bigger threat to Navy than Wake Forest and Tulane.

The trouble starts with junior running back Amos Zereoue, who averaged 134 yards rushing in his first three games, including 192 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-20 rout of Maryland two weeks ago.

"He's as good a back as we've faced in my four years here," said Weatherbie. "You have to have more than one guy go after him. You definitely don't want him running in the open field.

"But you can't concentrate on Zereoue alone or they'll throw the ball over your head. [Quarterback] Marc Bulger [64-for-98, 404 yards] has a terrific arm and does a great job of looking off his receivers. Quite often, he uses his third option."

New problem

West Virginia coach Don Nehlen, who has 185 victories in his 19-plus seasons, said he can't remember the last time he faced an option team.

"It makes this Navy game real difficult," he said, "because you just can't simulate an option team in practice. After just playing a passing team like Tulsa, where they didn't line up any backs, it's like the opposite end of the spectrum."

Irish game sold out

Navy's Nov. 14 game against Notre Dame at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium is sold out. It will be televised nationally by CBS and shown in Baltimore on Channel 13.

Pub Date: 9/30/98

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