Navy's new flexbone offense off to quiet start

Defense rules spring game

Midshipmen avoid injuries after top two QBs sit out

April 29, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

If Navy learned one thing from last year's spring game, it was that you don't enter a season with a top quarterback on the bench.

In the final scrimmage of the spring yesterday, No. 1 quarterback Brian Madden was on the sidelines in Bermuda shorts, assuring there would not be a repeat of the wrecked knee that finished him for 2000. No. 2 Craig Candeto was at Bishop Stadium on the other side of the campus, playing for the baseball team in a key doubleheader against Lafayette.

That left most of the quarterbacking in the hands of Ed Malinowski, the star of the 2000 spring encounter ... as a safety ... but returned to offense when Madden went down. And in a simulated game that pitted the defense against the offense, defenders were not allowed to tackle Malinowski.

"I felt like a quarterback instead of a running back like last year," said Malinowski, after completing 21 of 42 passes for 156 yards (with an interception) as the Midshipmen launched their new flexbone offense under simulated game conditions. "I like this offense, but it looked the boys were having a good time on defense."

So good, in fact, that the defense dominated the Blue-Gold encounter with a 25-12 victory, scoring three points on an interception and the other 22 by stopping the attack on downs.

The offense settled for two field goals, one each by Eric Rolfs and David Hills, and a 6-yard touchdown pass from Chris Maloney to Chris Rush, neither of whom is on the two-deep chart.

"They were missing Madden and Candeto and we had Ed running around most of the time and getting him frustrated," said senior defensive end Michael Wagoner. "The offensive line is going to take a while to get used to what the new system is trying to do."

The Midshipmen gained 405 yards with 135 snaps, a paltry three yards a play. And much of that came from runs out of the old spread set, which "our offense knows well," said Wagoner.

Hills connected from 31 yards and Rolfs from 42 in the final 1:15 of the first half to give the offense a chance, chopping a 12-0 deficit in half. But the margin ballooned to 24-6 in the second half before the offense scored again against defensive reserves.

"It's a big help for the defense to have 15 practices against this offense," said coach Charlie Weatherbie. "The defensive line played real well."

Still, the important thing was that no one was injured who will require surgery as Madden did last spring. The Midshipmen will begin to try to erase the residue of their 1-10 season with a healthy cast.

NOTES: Wide receiver Jeff Gaddy was the winner of the Vice Admiral William P. Mack Award as the most improved player during the spring. An upcoming senior from Davidson, N.C., Gaddy was converted from a three-year stand at defensive back and is listed as a starter at wide-out. He caught five passes for 94 yards, one for a touchdown from Malinowski in the first scrimmage. ... Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel said a Kansas City architectural firm has been hired to begin conceptual work on renovating of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

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