Midshipmen go long on coaching changes

Weatherbie shakes up staff and installs 3-4 defense

August 11, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Talk about not standing still.

Head coach Charlie Weatherbie has shuffled the 1999 Navy football team deck several times after last season's 3-8 record and now believes he is ready to plunge into a rugged schedule that includes Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Air Force, Army and West Virginia.

Navy takes on all those tough foes in what senior co-captain Jamie Doffermyre calls a "crucial year for Navy football. We've got to put ourselves on the map again. It's real important. And it's crucial for the seniors and crucial for everybody. We're building this program into something and we need to set the tone for the future. Last year was a real disappointment."

The Mids had put together back-to-back 9-3 and 7-4 seasons before the fall last year. The 9-3 year in 1996 included a 42-38 victory over California in the Aloha Bowl.

Weatherbie has not only made wholesale changes in his coaching staff this year but he has installed a 3-4 defense and added a tight end to the offense.

The off-season tinkering by Weatherbie continued right up to two days ago when he gave fifth-year assistant Mike Vaught the title of offensive coordinator, a position held by Ken Niumatalolo until last December.

Vaught also will coach the wide receivers this season after coaching the slotbacks the past two years and being in charge of the offensive tackles in 1995 and 1996.

The Mids also have a new defensive coordinator, Tim DeRuyter, who arrived from Ohio University in January to replace Dick Bumpas and install the 3-4 defense. DeRuyter also will coach the outside linebackers.

There is also a new assistant head coach in Sammy Steinmark, and Mitch Ware moves from wide receivers coach to quarterbacks and fullbacks coach.

But Weatherbie was still not content after all that maneuvering. He also has moved Dale Pehrson from safeties to defensive line coach.

Asked about the timing of the moves in the face of such a schedule yesterday at media day at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Weatherbie said: "These young men want to excel. They want a chance to show people what they can do. We've got a great schedule. We've got a schedule I believe that we can show some people throughout the country what Navy football is all about. I'm really looking forward to that."

In regard to the new 3-4 defense, Weatherbie isn't worried about his players needing a lot of time to adjust.

"We're going to keep it pretty simple for our young men," he said. "We're going to give them an opportunity to go play instead of think. If you can do that, where it becomes second nature and they don't have to think a whole lot, they're going to play that much better and have less missed assignments and they're going to be able to play that much harder."

Co-captain Doffermyre, a strong safety from Arundel High, also sees the 3-4 as an easy fit for the Mids.

"I love it," he said. "It's suited to me. It puts me in the mix a lot. I can still play zone and play pass, too. I played weak safety and free safety last year and strong safety is a combination of that. It just gives me a better idea of what I'm supposed to do. I can react faster."

And the presence of 3-4 expert DeRuyter has given the Navy players a little bit of superstition on their side entering the Sept. 4 season opener against Georgia Tech at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

DeRuyter was the defensive coordinator for Ohio University in 1997 when the Bobcats stunned Maryland in the season opener, the week before the Terps played Florida State.

"Now," said DeRuyter. "We're meeting a Georgia Tech team that plays Florida State in the second game. I'm hoping history will repeat itself.

"I know the Georgia Tech coaching staff will do a great job getting ready for us. But I know how kids are. All they [Georgia Tech players] have been hearing all summer is `Heh, it's you and Florida State this year and you have them in the second game.' They're coming to our place and I don't think they realize the kind of intensity we have. That is the kind of game that can set the tone for the season for us."

Navy schedule

Date Opponent (TV)

Sept. 4 Georgia Tech

Sept 11 at Kent

Sept 18 Boston College

Sept. 25 at Rice

Oct. 2 at West Virginia

Oct. 9 Air Force *

Oct. 23 Akron

Oct. 30 at Notre Dame (NBC)

Nov. 6 at Rutgers

Nov. 13 Tulane

Nov. 20 at Hawaii

Dec. 4 Army (CBS)**

*-at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Landover

**-at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

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