What started out as a dream season for Navy - two easy victories and then a narrow loss to mighty Michigan - has turned into a trying time for both coaches and players.
Morale on the team is low and the once-proud defense, which used to make up for a lot of other shortcomings, has fallen apart.
Navy has been slaughtered three of the past four weeks and must win its remaining two games to finish above .500.
The Mids, 4-5, face Georgia Tech Saturday and then Army.
There was unsubstantiated speculation that President Carter, Naval Academy Class of '47, would attend Saturday's game in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
"The seasons has ben disappointing, but not necessarily discouraging," coach George Welsh said today. "We still have a chance to win six games.
"We just don't have the kind of people where, if their mands aren't right, we can go out and beat anybody. We don't have the super athletes. We aren't going to beat anybody with our ability alone," he said.
Right now, the Navy minds don't appear to be right.
"So much of this game is mental," Welsh said. "I don't know if it's as much 90 per cent, but it's a lot and right now we just aren't the same team we were in the beginning of the season.
"Injuries have a lot to do with it, too, but we still shouldn't be giving up all the yards we have been lately," Welsh continued. "After a while, when you don't stop anybody, you start feeling that you can't. I think that's what's happening to us now.
"We aren't aggressive anymore. We're waiting for the other team to make mistakes instead of forcing it into making them."
There was a time when Navy was among the national leaders in pass defense. Through the first five games, the Mids yielded an average of only 68 yards throught the air. In the last four, the opposition has passed for an average of 232 yards a game.
Last Saturday's display against Syracuse, in which a cirtual unknown runningback, Art Monk, caught 14 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, was a sad commentary on the Navy pass coverage.
Most opponents are forcing the Mids into making last-second adjustments and Navy doesn't seem able to handle them.
In passing for 283 yards, Syracuse quarterback Bob Hurley put a flanker on one side of the field and then sent a man in motion to the same side. Then, after the ball was snapped, he sent a running back into a flat on the same side. Navy was confused.
The defense has been hit with a number of injuries - at end, middle guarg and linebacker.
Then, three weeks ago, rover back Greeg Milo had an appendectomy. Cornerback P.J. McCormick was moved from cornerback to rover and Glen Flanagan was brought off the bench to replace McCormick. As a result, the secondary lacks the cohesiveness it once had.
Georgia Tech could halp cure the sick pass defense. The Yellow Jackets, a wishbone team, have averaged only 29 yards passing a game.
"They may only throw three times a game, but I expect them to throw against us," Welsh said.
Only a fool wouldn't.