Midseason change in coaches surprises Mids

Players expect Lantz to have tougher approach

October 31, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Naval Academy's football players expressed surprise yesterday that a coaching change was made in midseason and said they expect a tougher, more military-oriented approach from new coach Rick Lantz.

"I don't think anybody foresaw this," said defensive captain Jake Bowen. "It was unexpected. The administration had its own plans and ideas on this. I was surprised it happened in the middle of the season, because I thought we were being very competitive lately."

"We had heard through the grapevine that this might happen [a coaching change]," said quarterback Brian Madden. "But I was somewhat surprised at the timing."

Lantz, who succeeds the fired Charlie Weatherbie as the interim coach, made it clear that his approach will be no-nonsense.

"They're going to have to earn the right to claim the title of Navy football players in the next couple of days," said the new coach. "We'll go from there."

"Coach Lantz is big on the hard-work approach and very big on preparation," said linebacker Ryan Hamilton.

"His is definitely the opposite end of the spectrum from the way he approaches things. He's the salty old man," said Bowen. "But our job is to obey the guy who is in command and follow his orders."

"I think we'll get a tougher attitude. He wants to make us believe we're winners," said Madden. "Maybe more discipline, maybe running if you show up late. There will definitely be a changeup."

Madden was close to Weatherbie, a former quarterback, and said: "It was tough for both sides to see him go. But in this business, it's kind of inevitable when you lose.

"We've got to shoulder as much blame as players. Coach Weatherbie prepared us week in and week out. He wasn't the guy who turned the ball over."

Lantz said he will conduct practices with the No. 1 offense going against the No. 2 defense and vice versa. No more running against the scout team in preparatory moments.

"The PRT [physical readiness test] will be the easiest thing they do," he said. "There are no more free passes. You do it, do it hard, do it fast or you do it again."

Athletic director Chet Gladchuk said: "Change is never easy, but now it's full speed ahead. We're looking as this as new life, a three-game season, and we expect to win all three."

Bowen said that when Gladchuk addressed the team, he spelled out clearly that he is "100 percent dedicated to making sure the Naval Academy is the premier military institution in the country. He doesn't want us to be second to Air Force or Army."

"What he had to say made a great deal of sense," said Madden.

NOTES: Navy has two weeks to prepare for its next game against Tulane, and the Midshipmen could use it. There is a long injury list headed by doubtful participants Brett Cochrane and Eddie Carthan, each with turf toe. ... A 10-7 lead at Toledo marked the only time Navy has led at the half this season. The team has allowed 153 first-half points.

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