Beat Army, yes - save season, maybe

Navy notebook

Black Knights employ more wide-open offense

College Football

November 28, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Would a victory over Army on Saturday salvage Navy's winless season for the second straight year? It depends on to whom you talk.

For interim head coach Rick Lantz, a win would soothe the disappointment.

"Sure, it would ease things a little bit," said Lantz, who was not at the academy in 2000 when the Midshipmen - also then without a victory - edged Army, 30-28, at PSINet Stadium.

"Even if we were 10-0, losing to Army would not be an acceptable option. This is a game where there is a winner and a loser in a lot of places, and we want to be on the winning side."

"There is a definite aura about beating Army," said senior defensive end Michael Wagoner. "We haven't given up on our season, and you have to go out on top. A win would be something to look back on and smile about.

"And you'd like to see all those stars on your letter sweater [symbolic of a star game in the Army-Navy series]."

That is the prevailing opinion. To senior quarterback Brian Madden, there is a different slant.

"I don't believe that saves our season, one win over Army," said the competitive Madden. "If anybody tells you any different, I disagree. Maybe if you get seven beforehand it might.

"But there is no doubt it is one that will be remembered. Thirty years down the line, nobody is going to ask you if you beat Toledo. They'll want to know how many times you beat Army."

Three victories over the Black Knights in the past four years was not enough to save coach Charlie Weatherbie's job this season. And Lantz is facing an uncertain future, although athletic director Chet Gladchuk hinted last week that the coach will always have a job at the academy.

High-powered offense

Two years ago, Army entered the game with a captain and tight end named Shawn Castillo who had caught one pass all season.

This time, the Black Knights enter the game with a captain and tight end named Clint Dodson who leads the team with 41 catches.

Those numbers clearly reflect the more wide-open offensive approach the team has taken under coach Todd Berry. No longer does Army pound and pound with the wishbone.

"There is a lot more high power in our offense," said linebacker and captain Brian Zickefoose. "The defense knows now that if we're down 14 points, our offense can score 21 and come back to win."

"When I came to Army, they'd be recruiting, like, 30 running backs," Dodson said. "Our roster was filled with runners. Now, there are a lot more chances for the receivers."

Army is averaging 209.9 yards passing, 50 more than the ground attack. That was an unthinkable ratio under former coach Bob Sutton.

And the Midshipmen rank 115th nationally in pass efficiency defense.

Showing their spirit

The football teams from Army, Navy and Air Force are the recipients of the 2001 Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, which recognizes college football's most inspirational student-athletes.

Collectively, they will be presented with the award Dec. 6 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Navy will be represented by quarterback Ed Malinowski, Army by quarterback Chad Jenkins and Air Force by offensive lineman Ben Miller.

Next for Navy

Opponent: Army (2-8)

Site: Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

When: Saturday, 11:45 a.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (1300 AM), WMAL (630 AM)

Line: Army by 1 1/2

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