Navy, Stanford coaches put on gloomy faces for Saturday

Johnson, Harris declare other holds better cards

Navy notebook

College Football

September 07, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

To hear the opposing coaches talk about Saturday's Stanford-Navy matchup is to deduce that both will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Navy coach Paul Johnson believes the Cardinal might be the best team on his schedule, pointing to the probable NFL drafts of at least "three or four" of its players, "every one of them high school All-Americans" and close losses last season to the likes of national champion Southern California (31-28), Oregon (16-13), Oregon State (24-19) and Notre Dame (23-15).

"Plus, we don't have any tape," said Johnson, noting that Stanford will be playing its season opener. "All we have is last year's."

Conversely, the Cardinal's first-year coach, Walt Harris, is bemoaning the fact Navy already has game experience after its heartbreaking, 23-20 loss to Maryland and that his team will be undergoing "the first game in a new program.

"You don't know how they're going to respond. And we're playing against an option football team on the road with a game under its belt."

Harris is also concerned about the possibility of heat and humidity for the game in Annapolis because his team has been practicing in a lot of "cool weather. I have to wonder about our conditioning."

The first meeting between the two schools since 1965 and only the third ever is an intriguing one.

No doubt Navy is facing another opponent with superior talent. At the top level, Stanford has produced 21 NFL draftees since 2001 and Harris contends that the challenge is that "the next-level guys have to be upgraded."

The current roster certainly has had plenty of testing under game conditions because 50 lettermen have returned, including 10 offensive starters.

And, as usual, the Midshipmen will be conceding size at virtually every position, a considerable amount at most spots.

Johnson doesn't expect Navy to be awed by a Pac-10 school with a rich football history.

"I don't think we were intimidated by Maryland," he said. "We've played a lot of teams their caliber or better. But we have plenty to get ready for."

Stanford, which lost its final five games under Buddy Teevens en route to a 4-7 record last season, will employ the 3-4 defense Harris used to help Pittsburgh reach national prominence and a pass-oriented offense.

Two return to team

Navy has welcomed back two players who were suspended for the Maryland game.

Returning are sophomore linebacker Keith Lisante, who abruptly quit the squad in the middle of fall practice to concentrate on academics, then was voted back on by his teammates, and offensive tackle Marshall Green, who missed the opener because of a violation of team rules.

"They will help with our rotations," said Johnson.

Next for Navy

Matchup: Stanford (0-0) at Navy (0-1)

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Radio: 1090 AM (will break away for Orioles-Mariners coverage), 1430 AM, 97.9 FM

Line: Stanford by 1

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