Johnson's goal: Be at practice

Mids coach briefly hospitalized for pain

College Football

November 30, 2005|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

Navy football coach Paul Johnson is expected to return to practice today after being taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis yesterday morning when he experienced sharp pain while in his office at the academy.

"He said he plans to be back at work," academy spokesman Scott Strasemeier said. "They gave him several tests at the hospital and couldn't see anything. He was given medication and released."

Johnson has experienced trouble with kidney stones and Strasemeier said "he told me it felt like the same thing."

Practice for the 106th Army-Navy game Saturday went on as scheduled with assistant head coach Ken Niumatalolo in charge yesterday and defensive coordinator Buddy Green supervising the defense as usual.

Navy players expressed relief that their coach was returning with their biggest game of the season only four days away.

"We're definitely relieved that he's OK," said quarterback Lamar Owens, the offensive captain. "We weren't told too much detail, but I know he doesn't want to miss this game. You don't have to question his determination about it."

Defensive captain Jeremy Chase said the team "was praying for him for a while. We're thrilled that he's OK. It would have been tough to go on without him, but we would have still had to play our game."

The extra week between Navy's last game and its annual classic with Army means the team wasn't missing any new wrinkles without Johnson yesterday.

"We just went over some things that we've already gone over for three or four days," Owens said.

Playing short-handed

Navy will be missing two key backfield members Saturday, both because of season-ending knee injuries, and juniors Trey Hines and Eddie Martin figure to earn more playing time at slotback, one of the team's deepest positions.

Hines, who has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, has been playing primarily at fullback and has rushed 21 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Martin, a converted quarterback, has five runs for 34 yards and has thrown one pass, which was intercepted.

Slotback Karlos Whittaker joined starting fullback Matt Hall on the sideline after tearing ligaments in his right knee during the Temple game. Whittaker set a Navy plebe record with six touchdowns, averaged 7.8 yards on 37 carries and had a 25.6-yard average on kickoff returns.

"It's a tough loss, but we've got other guys who can play there," Johnson said earlier this week. "I feel disappointed for Karlos because he was having a fine first season."

Sophomore Adam Ballard replaced Hall in the last game and rushed for a career-high 167 yards and a touchdown in his first start.

Et cetera

Army players are wearing a small patch with No. 41 in tribute to legendary "Mr. Outside," Glenn Davis, who died in March. Davis won the 1946 Heisman Trophy and teamed with Felix "Doc" Blanchard to form one of the most dynamic running back duos of all time. ... Philadelphia will continue to be the centerpiece city for Army-Navy, with three of the next four games scheduled there after this season. The exception is 2007, at M&T Bank Stadium.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Army vs. Navy Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Chs. 13, 9, 1090 AM, 1430 AM Line: Navy by 6 1/2

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