Navy's swift offensive forces recorded eight touchdowns in a game-condition scrimmage at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium yesterday. Coach George Welsh was not blinded by the speed, however. Instead, he wondered whether the guys in white were all that good or whether the defenders in blue were somewhat suspect.
"You go against youselft so much you don't know what it is," Welsh said. "You have to play a game. I've seen us a lot better at this stage. We're making too many mistakes, putting the ball on the ground too much, drawing bad penalties. I would not want to have to open next week."
Navy has until Sept. 16, when it meets Virginia at Charlottesville, to correct some of those mistakes. Included in the error column were seven change-of-possession fumbles, three pass interceptions, mediocre punting and penalties that ranged from holding to ineligble receivers downfield.
Still those few fanatics and family members who passed the loyalty test at the gate were pleased with a number of things.
Bob Leszczynski, the artful senior quarterback, hot on nine of 17 passes for 208 yards, permitting none of those interceptions that plagued him last fall.
Sandy Jones, the wingback-sprinter, hauled in four passes for 119 yards, including a 68-yard toss that helped Leszczynski move his charges 93 yards to score in five days.
Curt Gainer, Navy's fastest-ever tight end grabbed three passes for 62 yards, and two touchdowns. One came after a bobbled field-goal snap, in which holder Leszczynski recovered and hit Gainer for a 23-yard score.
Carl Hendershot, battling the Big Gainer for the tight end spot showed speed of his own. He ripped off 25 yards on Navy's patented tight end reverse and he incredibly, was the inadvertent tackler who ended Jones' 68-yard sprint, banging Jones' legs as he attempted to throw on the final defender.
"It's nice to have tight ends who can run like that," Welsh said. "We're fast and that should make a difference. But our passing game is still not precise. And we can't overcome that many errors."
Bob Powers, the No. 2 quarterback, had a forgettable day, throwing all three interceptions and twice losing the ball on fumbles. It must be recorded, however, that Powers were operating against the No. 1 defense with the No. 2 offense, while Leszczynski directed the top offense against second-string defenders.
The offensive line, one of Navy's problem points, seemed efficient, but, as Welsh noted in a vein also partinent to the quarterback situation, "It depends on who they were blocking. I thought there was some improvement in the offensive line and the secondary.But when the secondary looks good, you don't know if it's playing well or the offense is not executing."
The defense produced a couple of sophomore standouts in nose guard Terry Huxel, a 227-pounder, and safety Fred Reitzel, a converted quarterback.
Huxel blocked a punt, sacked Leszczynski for a 14-yard loss, recovered a fumble and was generally a pain to the No. 1 offense. It could be meaningful, since Huxel is hooked up in a battle with Tommy Thompson and A.B. Miller for that key assignment.
"All three nose guards have been playing well," Welsh said. "They've been giving the offense trouble all through our drills."
Reitzel picked off two passes, with cornerback Bob Wilson grabbing the third. Late in the scrimmage, as the buses were warmed up for the ride back to campus, sophomore tight end Matt McLaughlin scored on a 70-yard pass play from Carroll High graduate Kevin McTavish, shrugging off two tacklers in a dash to the goal.
If only Welsh could trade a nose guard and a tight end for an interior lineman and cornerback, he might be less inclined to tear out strands of his thinning hair.