Navy eager to restart its engines vs. Duke

Mids hope positives of extended layoff outweigh negatives

Navy notebook


How will Navy react to a regular-season layoff that equals the longest in the academy's football history?

That is the prevailing question as the Midshipmen undergo final preparations for a visit to Duke on Saturday for their first road test of 2005.

It has been nearly three weeks since the team lost a wild, 41-38 decision to Stanford. The delay was the result of a bye and the postponement of last Saturday's game at Rice because of Hurricane Rita. The players are eager to return to the field and claim an elusive first victory.

"I think it's frustrating a little bit," said quarterback Lamar Owens. "It's the season, the time we play. But you can't cry about it because that's just the way it is."

They are trying to view the lapse positively, although a team always wants to get back into game action as quickly as possible after a defeat.

"This gives us a couple of extra days to get ahead of the curve for Duke," said linebacker Joe Cylc. "But it has sort of felt like preseason practice. Pretty much, this is a season starting over."

Cylc pointed out that when the Rice game arrives Oct. 22, the Midshipmen will hardly need any briefing. "We won't forget about them. We'll be well prepared," he said.

Owens noted that the coaching staff hasn't provided any slack despite all the down time. "They've really been on us," he said. "They've been pushing us harder on off weeks. Hopefully, that will knock some of the rust off."

One possible negative is too much preparation.

"You can always take the extra days of work," said Owens. "This way, we're sharp on everything. But there are two ways to look at it. You might have a tendency to work on too many things."

"You've just got to use the time to get better," said nose guard Larry Cylc. "It's as good a time as any to work on technique. You do the same thing day after day and it gets into your brains. We're definitely ready to play because we've been working on everything."

Coach Paul Johnson said it "seems like forever" since the previous game and that there is no precedent so he doesn't know how the team will respond. After today, Navy will have played two games and conducted 44 practices.

"I'd be disappointed if we didn't play with intensity and fly around," he said. "The fun part of football is playing the games and see what kind of progress you've made. This is tough."

The last time Navy had a 21-day layoff was in 1963.

No day game

Johnson had said he hoped Rice would hold the rescheduled game in the afternoon.

"I just hope," he said, "that since we accommodated Rice on the schedule that they will accommodate us by not playing a night game. A night game means we get home at 4 a.m. and have to turn around and get ready for a road game [at Rutgers] the next week."

Rice did not oblige, setting game time for 7 p.m. (8 p.m. on the East Coast).

Oct. 22 was originally an idle date for the Midshipmen.

Et cetera

Navy came out of the Stanford game virtually injury free, with only guard Zach Gallion gimpy with a sprained ankle. Gallion has recovered, going full speed in practice, so the team should be at maximum strength. ... Johnson said Duke, which will hold Homecoming Saturday, is more athletic than last season and plays hard. but the Blue Devils have been plagued by turnovers and a sputtering offense during their 1-3 start. Navy prevailed, 27-12, over Duke in the opener last season.

NAVY @DUKE Saturday, 1 p.m., 1090 AM. Line: Navy by 6

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