Mids won't feel lonely in Houston

With discount plan's help, team's bowl-game support could be as large as 20,000

Navy notebook

December 27, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

HOUSTON - To Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk, the Houston Bowl is all about "showing we can deliver."

The Midshipmen could have as many as 20,000 backers in the stands at Reliant Stadium when the game is played Tuesday, a statement that would serve the academy football team well when it is being considered for future bowl appearances.

Thanks to an unusual loyalty-discount plan, Navy is guaranteed to outsell the home-state representative, Texas Tech.

"My goal has been 20,000 all along," Gladchuk said. "We're going to have a presence."

Navy offered a loyalty discount for a limited time, meaning season ticket-holders, alumni and friends were able purchase tickets for half their face value (at $28.50) and donate them back for distribution to active military personnel in the brigade and in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas. "Someone from West Point even bought tickets for midshipmen," Gladchuk said.

"Over 50 percent of the brigade [2,000 midshipmen] is coming to the game," Gladchuk said. "This is what it's all about."

False alarm

The Midshipmen reconvened yesterday at Rice University, with only freshman linebacker Tye Adams missing from the 100-man bowl roster. Adams was excused because a snowstorm in the West delayed his flight plans.

Just one-fifth of the players flew on the team charter from Maryland, the others reaching Houston from far-flung destinations where they had scattered for Christmas.

Coach Paul Johnson and his staff worked in dress shirts - some even wore the suits and ties they traveled in - and put the team through a moderate drill in shells only, though the practice had a twist after a bomb-sniffing dog sounded an alert in the coaches' locker room.

The problem turned out to be defective wiring.

Navy worked on a variety of gimmick plays during the practice, but that is standard procedure before any game.

Safety Smith ready

Safety Josh Smith, two tackles short of being the Midshipmen's leading tackler despite missing three full games, returned to practice yesterday after sitting out the Army-Navy game because of an appendectomy.

"I went to Philadelphia and stayed in a hotel room and watched the game on TV," Smith said. "I wanted to be with the team when it was over."

Since no muscles were cut during the procedure, Smith has recovered enough to go full steam.

"It's been a rough season," he said. "I missed two games earlier with surgery after the Air Force game."

Shoe fits for Todd

Center-guard Shane Todd of Mount Airy, the team's biggest offensive lineman at 297 pounds who suffered a severe injury to his right big toe earlier in the season, accompanied the team and is expected to play with the aid of a special shoe designed by teammate Eric Frey.

But sophomore Marshall Green is again expected to start at center.

Houston Bowl

Matchup:Navy (8-4) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Site:Reliant Stadium, Houston

When:Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.

TV/Radio:ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Line:Texas Tech by 12 1/2

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