Thursday, November 18, 1999
Navy is much better
than its record shows
The Midshipmen have lostBy Paul Arnett
five close football games
by six points or less
Don't let the Naval Academy's mediocre 4-6 record fool you. The Midshipmen are quite capable of coming to Aloha Stadium this Saturday night and sinking June Jones' battleship.
Navy has lost five games by six points or less, including to bowl-hopeful teams Boston College (14-10), Notre Dame (28-24) and the Air Force Academy (19-14).
Along the way, the Midshipmen lost top quarterback Brian Broadwater to a broken collarbone only to discover that backup Brian Madden might be the better signal-caller of the two.
His first start was at Notre Dame, where all he did was rush for 168 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries. He also completed 7 of 17 passes for 86 yards in a game Navy led late in the fourth quarter.
Madden came back to win his next two starts over Rutgers and Tulane, and will be looking to make it three in a row against Hawaii.
"Brian has come in and done an outstanding job for us," Navy head coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "Had he not been injured earlier in the year, he and Brian Broadwater would have battled hard for the starting job."
In last week's 45-21 rout of Tulane, Madden rushed for 144 yards on 25 carries and scored a career-high three touchdowns. He is third on the team in rushing with 570 yards on 110 carries.
When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday
UH vs. Navy
Where: Aloha Stadium
TV: 9 p.m. on KFVE (delay)
RealAudio: Live Internet broadcast
Radio: Live on KCCN-AM (1420)
Records: UH is 7-3. Navy is 4-6.
Odds: Navy by 3
The Midshipmen rushed for a season-best 417 yards in the win over the Green Wave. Navy's option offense is ranked third in the nation in rushing, averaging 283.9 yards a game.
If Madden doesn't get you, then fellow sophomore Raheem Lambert will. The fullback leads the Midshipmen in rushing with 631 yards and five touchdowns. Throw in All-America candidate Terrence Anderson at center and it's easy to see how dangerous Navy can be up the middle.
"For the most part, we've done a good job on the offensive side of the football," Weatherbie said. "We've had a chance to win every game except our opener with Georgia Tech. Unfortunately, we've been close a lot of times, but we haven't made the big plays when we needed them most."
Part of the reason has been an inconsistent defense that has allowed teams to rally for victories, including Notre Dame, which scored with 1:30 remaining. Air Force managed 19 second-half points to rally from 14 points down, and Akron scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to squeeze out a 35-29 victory.
"But we've improved as a unit over last year," said Weatherbie, who employs a standard 3-4 alignment. "I believe we've played a lot better in our last three games."
The Navy secondary produced five interceptions in last week's win over Tulane. And a pass rush that produced only 14 sacks last year, has 31 this season.
Safeties Chris Lepore and Jamie Doffermyre are the top tacklers on defense, combining for 120, including four sacks.
Linebacker Shaka Martin and defensive end Gino Marchetti are also key ingredients for Weatherbie. If they can put pressure on UH quarterback Dan Robinson - Martin has eight sacks and Marchetti has five - then that keeps the secondary from having to make too many big plays.
"What June has done at Hawaii is incredible," said Weatherbie, who beat Steve Mariucci's California team in the 1996 Aloha Bowl. "Their passing attack is going to test us on several fronts. We've played some good passing teams this year, especially Georgia Tech, but we haven't faced a pure run-and-shoot like this one."
Although Navy can't finish with a winning record, the Midshipmen can pull even at 6-6 by knocking off Hawaii and Army in their last two games. The game with Army will be the 100th meeting between the two schools.
"But we can't start worrying about that game just yet," Weatherbie said.
"Hawaii has made a remarkable turnaround and it would be great for us to come in there and try to steal a win."