Mids now approach things the Lantz way - and like it

Players say `enthusiasm has gone through the roof'

Navy notebook

College Football

November 07, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Veteran coach Rick Lantz has already applied his imprint to the Navy football team, which has yet to play a game under his stewardship.

He is trying to stress poise with the outcome on the line, physical conditioning for the late stages of games and execution at all points.

"It's been very enthusiastic and exciting, a big difference from what we had in the past," said defensive end Michael Wagoner. "He's really emphasizing the team structure and kept us focused on what we have to do. He's not going to let us accept mediocrity."

With the Midshipmen off for a week after a tough, 21-20 loss to Toledo, Lantz has bought some time in which to implant his philosophy before preparing specifically for this week's meeting with Tulane at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

"We've been doing a lot of running - medium short-distance sprints, 300-meter runs. He sees us dragging a little in the fourth quarter sometimes," said wide receiver Chandler Sims.

"The enthusiasm has gone through the roof from day one, our first meeting. There is definitely an uprising."

"I'm sending the message I want them to have," said Lantz, the defensive coordinator who was promoted after Charlie Weatherbie was dismissed after seven straight losses and 17 in the team's past 18 games.

"Each practice got a little better and changed a little bit of our attitude because of the open week."

Lantz will now be intricately involved in the game management and will trust defensive deployment to other coaches. But he said he is going to trust his players on the field to change formations if necessary.

"Four or five times the formation is not going to be a good call," he said. "The secondary can change it; the linebackers can change it. If it is not workable, they should get out of it."

Two faces of Tulane

As usual, Tulane will bring a high-octane offense and a sputtering defense into its annual bash with Navy.

Behind senior quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who has thrown for 2,323 yards and 19 touchdowns, and sophomore running back Mewelde Moore, who has rushed for 1,162 yards and leads the team with 53 receptions, the Green Wave is an offensive machine.

Conversely, the defense has allowed 40.8 points a game and nearly 5,000 total yards.

"They have an explosive pass offense, as well-thought-out as any we've faced," Lantz said. "Our defense is going to have to pressure the passer, and our secondary will have to play well."

Seniors' last home game

Navy's 22 seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony at this final home appearance.

Lantz said he has not really addressed the emotion of that seriously, but will by Friday.

"We'll talk about where they're going," he said.

There will also be a special cake-cutting ceremony at halftime to celebrate the birthday of the Marine Corps.

He got a little list

Athletic director Chet Gladchuk said he has received "a list" of minority candidates for the football position from the chairman of the NCAA's Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, Eugene Marshall Jr.

Lantz has been named interim coach for the final three games.

"We'll certainly consider all candidates," said Gladchuk, with the rider that the job is not currently open and that the circumstances will be reviewed after the season.

Et cetera

Navy head coaches are 21-13-2 in their first games; the last coach to lose his opener was Elliot Uzelac, 27-12, to William and Mary in 1987. ... The Midshipmen have lost their past four games by a total of 21 points. ... Tony Lane remains nationally ranked (11th) in kickoff returns and is 24th in all-purpose yardage.

Next for Navy

Opponent: Tulane (2-8)

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

When: Saturday, noon

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WMAL (630 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Line: Tulane by 2 1/2

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