4-TD Quinn still fresh in minds of Mids' `D'

NAVY NOTEBOOK

October 26, 2006|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN REPORTER

Navy knows it must move and protect the ball well to have a chance at ending its 42-game losing streak to 11th-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday. Besides the obvious need to score points, the Midshipmen want to take pressure off a defense that must contend with the most dynamic weapon on the field in Fighting Irish quarterback Brady Quinn.

"We definitely can't let [Quinn] sit back there like last year. We didn't get any pressure on him, and he picked us apart," said Navy senior inside linebacker David Mahoney, recalling Quinn's four-touchdown day and a 42-21 loss to the Irish. "He has gotten better each year with his reads and his technique. He's poised in the pocket, and he finds open receivers with perfect passes."

Quinn, 6 feet 4, 227 pounds, is building on an outstanding junior season that vaulted him to fourth place in the Heisman Trophy voting. As a senior, he has completed 62.9 percent of his 278 pass attempts for 1,938 yards and 18 touchdowns, with only four interceptions.

Four Notre Dame players - senior wide receivers Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, junior tight end John Carlson and junior running back Darius Walker - have caught at least 32 passes and combined for 17 scores.

Quinn owns or shares 35 school records.

"It all starts with the quarterback," Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. "He doesn't make major mistakes. He knows where all 22 [players] are [on the field]. It's fun to watch him if you don't have to play him."

Tidwell harnessed

Navy senior linebacker Tyler Tidwell breathed a sigh of relief when he learned the results of a recent magnetic resonance imaging test of his ailing left shoulder. Tidwell, who led the Mids with 10 sacks and 19 tackles for loss a year ago, originally tore cartilage in the shoulder in last month's 24-23 overtime loss to Tulsa. He aggravated it 12 days ago in the 34-0 defeat to Rutgers.

After finding out during Navy's bye week that he could put off surgery until after the season, Tidwell was fitted with a harness that limits his range of motion while protecting the joint.

"It's going to make it hard to bat down passes with this [left] hand, but otherwise I'm OK," said Tidwell, who has 30 tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery. "I was just worried the MRI was going to show something we would have to do surgery on right now."

Johnson to N.C.?

Navy coach Paul Johnson and athletic director Chet Gladchuk dismissed reports speculating that Johnson is rumored to be a candidate to replace North Carolina coach John Bunting.

Bunting, who is 1-6 this year and 25-42 in six seasons in Chapel Hill, has been fired, but will coach through the current season. The Tar Heels have yet to beat a Division I-A team this fall.

The Charlotte Observer mentioned Johnson, former Miami and Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt as possible replacements. Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe also has been rumored to be a candidate.

"It's flattering to be mentioned for things, but I don't pay attention to that stuff," said Johnson, whose contract runs through 2012 and is believed to pay him more than $1 million per year. "People can write whatever they want. You can't control it. They've always been fair to me here."

Said Gladchuk: "It's not an issue here. That's their mess to figure out."

Et cetera

Linebacker Clint Sovie, who lost his starting job to Irv Spencer three weeks after breaking a bone in his right hand at Stanford on Sept. 16, could play for the first time since then without the cast that has hindered his tackling. ... Senior safety DuJuan Price, who had hoped to return this week after missing five games with a pulled right quadriceps, is experiencing persistent swelling and most likely will miss his sixth straight game.

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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