Former quarterback Holley is a real hit filling the slot

Senior enjoys physical play, but surprise may come to pass

Navy notebook

November 17, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A year has made a major difference for Navy's Steve Holley.

The starting quarterback at the onset of 1998, Holley no longer plays the team's most glamorous position after injuring his shoulder midway through last season and yielding the snaps to Brian Broadwater.

Last spring, Holley was moved to slotback, where there was a shortage of personnel. He has adapted well.

"It's been such a change to go out there and hit people instead of taking it all the time," said the senior from Dallas. "I really like the difference."

Coach Charlie Weatherbie said Holley never complained about the switch.

"Broadwater was the quarterback, and we moved Steve to slot to keep him on the field," he said. "He is physical and can run and also has the ability to throw the ball. We've had that play in every week; we just haven't used it."

The possibility of the slotback option pass is interesting, particularly with the game against archrival Army less than three weeks away. But nobody is revealing any military secrets.

"It might come out this year, and it might not," Holley said, playfully ducking the issue. "But we've got it."

Holley has averaged 6.3 yards on 16 rushes and has caught three passes for 30 yards. He is one of six players rotating at two slotback spots.

Next stop: Hawaii

Navy's quest for a .500 season shifts to Hawaii late Saturday night.

The 4-6 Midshipmen will be making their first trek there since the 1996 Aloha Bowl and will encounter a 7-3 team that has claimed a share of the Western Athletic Conference title and secured its first bowl invitation in seven years.

With wins in their last two games, the Rainbow Warriors can set an NCAA record for the best turnaround by a team after a winless season (0-12). Purdue (1943) and Stanford (1940) had eight-game turnarounds.

"They're very confident," Weatherbie said. "So we've got to go out there with an attitude, take care of the ball and get our defense off the field."

Navy (4-6) received suitable preparation when Tulane passed 56 times Saturday. Hawaii is averaging more than 46 throws and has a starting quarterback (Dan Robinson) with a 306.9-yard average.

"We have to get on top of them early," said defensive back Gary Lane, who had one of five Navy interceptions against Tulane. "Stop them on first and second down and force them into third and long."

The one difference is Hawaii huddles before each play, unlike Tulane. That should refresh the Midshipmen, who had trouble catching their breath early in the last game before the coaches increased the substitutions.

Safety Lepore out

The Midshipmen will take on the aerial assault without free safety Chris Lepore, the team's leader in tackles with 120.

Broadwater is also expected to miss the trip as he continues to recover from a fractured clavicle. Brian Madden will start his fourth game at quarterback and is 2-1, the loss a heartbreaker at Notre Dame.

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