A year ago, quarterback Bob Leszczynski's passes turned an almost helpless Navy offense into a potent force that scared Notre Dame and then overpowered three straight opponents as the Mids finished at 4-7.
A similar revolution, somewhat less heralded, took place on defense. A secondary that had intercepted only three enemy passes over seven games picked off nine in those last four. The principal thief was Mike Galpin, the safety from Damascus, Md., who shared seven to tie a single-season Navy record.
Galpin, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, stole two against Notre Dame, three against Syracuse and one each against Georgia Tech and Army. Still, the guy who now serves as cocaptain of a highly rated Navy team figures the big turnabout came the week before Notre Dame, in a 450 loss to Pittsburgh.
"We came together against Pitt even though we lost," Galpin said. "We were trying to shut down (Tony) Dorsett, keep him from that NCAA rushing record, and we really played as a team."
The 27-21 lost to Notre Dame, in which the Irish were held to a second-half field goal, was another welding agent.
"We had been losing up to that point," Galpin said, "and it was tough not to win that one. But we looked at it from the standpoint that we can play with these guys. Not 'Oh, hell, what tough luck,' but 'We can do this.'"
Thereafter, they did everything coach George Welsh asked, and Galpin thinks they will continue to do so.
"From when we got to know each other, we've been going great," Galpin said. "We had a good winter workout program and a great spring. Everybody's in good shape. We're ready."
Besides Galpin, the secondary includes sophomore Gregg Milo at rover, senior John Sturges at right cornerback and senior Pat McCormick, closely challenged by senior Glenn Flanagan, at the left corner. All Five are experienced, Milo having been a big plus after starting his plebe campaign as an offensive tailback.
"We run so much zone that you have to know what the others are doing," Galpin said. "Last year, until midway through when we got used to each other. I was only sure about Sturges. Now I know the other three guys and they know I like to take chances, cheat, jump the short stuff. When everybody's together like this, you can get away with a lot of things."
If Galpin knew what Sturges was doing last year, that four-year defensive starter couldn't be sure about anyone. Galpin, after breaking an ankle as a defensive back in 1974, spent the 1975 season as a split end, catching 17 passes to rank second on the team. Then it was back to the safety spot, in Welsh's continuing battle to put the best available athletes on the field.
Galpin, a quarterback and much-be-honored defensive back at Demascus, where seven starters went both ways, had only one regret about his first career assignment as a pass receiver.
"I was disappointed, because that was Chet Moeller's senior year and we had such a great defense," Galpin said. "I knew we'd be a good team right from the start. We didn't pass much then, but now that I'm back on defense we're throwing it more.
"It's all been for the betterment of the team, though, and I just want to play. I came in as a quarterback and Navy recruits a lot of quarterbacks. They give you a shot there and then they put you where they need you."
Saturday, at photo day, Navy needed Galpin and fellow cocaptain Joe Gattuso to grab the borns of Bill XX and lead the charge onto Farragut Field. The team was assigned a prescribed route for the TV cameras, but the goat had another course in mind. Galpin, Gattuso and goat wound up off by themselves. It's the kind of situation where Galpin is at his best.
The Mids Stretched and sweated twice in shorts today while sailboats bobbed invitingly a couple of hundred yards away. The team will don pads Thursday, then scrimmage Saturday . . . Navy opens Sept. 10 with the Citadel, which has an early opener against Wofford Sept. 3. Coach Bobby Ross has declined to supply Navy with films and Welsh said, "If I were in their shoes, I wouldn't give them either." . . . Les Steckel, a new assistant once employed by the President's Council for Youth Physical Fitness, has some innovative methods for improving speed. One is to flip the hands back for more thrust, and employed in group fashion it made the Mids resemble a flock of penquins.
MacDonald Sets Weight Record
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Aug. 22 (UPI) - Michael MacDonald, a 219-pounder from Anaheim, established a world bench press record of 576.5 pounds in the second day of the AAU National Power Lifting Championships at Snata Monica Civic Auditorium Sunday.