Scouts from nine bowl games will be here among an overflow crowd of 31,000 Saturday to watch two of the top three college football teams in the East - undefeated Navy and once-beaten Pittsburgh.
The key to the outcome rests in the hands of two similar young men - red-haired, a fraction of an inch over six feet, a few pounds above 190, and highly intelligent. About the only difference between Navy quarterback Bob Leszczynski and Pitt's Rick Trocano is the number of times Trocano is mauled by defensive linemen each Saturday afternoon.
Trocano is the manipulator of pitt's veer offense and he is usually belted on every play, whether he gets rid of the ball or not.
"We're an option team and I like to run the option,"Trocano said, "When the pass and run are clicking, the veer is an explosive, awesome offense. It's designed to beat the 5-2 defense (used by Navy). But if every time they hit me and hit me, it's got to wear you down."
Trocano wears oversized shoulder pads, to guard against a repeat of an earlier shoulder separation suffered as a result of that constant pounding.
Leszcyznski sympathizes with his opposite number and gives thanks that Navy Coach George Welsh prefers the pro-type T attack.
"I don't think I could be a veer quarterback in college with my speed," Leszczynski said. "A quarterback running like that really takes a beating. He's fair game after he pitches out and some teams will go for him every time regardless. It's legal, but it seems like dirty football to me."
Leszczynski was not much of a runner in previous seasons, but he has improved considerably this year, adding an extra dimension to the Mids' attack.
"I'm a little quicker," Leszczynski said. "My weight is 193 and last year it was up to 203 or 204. I've been executing the option pretty well and I think that added quickness is the difference."
Leszczynski, now a senior, is also reading defenses better and that makes Navy's audible-oriented offense more effective. Welsh sends in the plays, but in most cases Leszczynski has several options. It is not through simplehesitation that Navy makes full use of those 25 seconds to get off each play.
"It's taken me up to now to be comfortable with the automatics," Leszczynski said. "We're at a stage now where 70 percent of the calls are automatics at the line of scrimmage. I've been averaging one or two mistakes a game, but now I know where their people are and where they're likely to be going.
"The way we work it in the huddle, we have a package of two or four plays and what we call depends on where we can best attack the defense. I didn't recognize defenses as well last year. Actually, the biggest thing this year has been the offensive line. They've given me great protection, losts of time."
Despite all those options, Navy has stuck to basics in recent games. Welsh prefers conservative football and Leszczynski admitted that "I was sure surprised "when Welsh ordered a pass with the ball on Navy's three-yeard-line at Virginia. It worked to Phil McConkey for a 73-yard gain.
"We usually put one or two new plays in each week," Leszczynski said, "but the last couple of weeks there hasn't been much new. We had exams last week and that probably hurt us against William and Mary (a 9-0 victory). You try not to let it affect you, but you've got to study a certain amount to keep your grades up. By the end of the week, with the studying and the classes, you can find yourself pretty tired on Saturday."
Like Leszczynski, Trocano was below par in Saturday's 7-3 victory over Florida State. Pitt had exams last week, too.
"You can't get up for the game as much and you don't get to see the films as much as you'd like," Trocano said. "But grades are the most important thing. People sometimes find that hard to believe, but you can only play football so long."
One wonders how long sophomore Trocano will be playing at his present pace. He has carried the ball 107 times in six games, not to mention all those post pitch hits. One also wonders about the size of Pitt's playbook. Against Florida State, Trocano ran the same play five straight times, keeping and being dumped on each occasion. If Pitt hadn't been forced to punt, they might have buried him under the Astro Turf.
"I read end and the end was taking the pitch," Trocano said. "The line-backer kept making the tackle."
Pitt Coach Jackie Sherrill is so conservative he makes Welsh look like a gambler. But both teams are likely to be forced to open up in this one, given the caliber of the two defenses. Navy, No. 1 in the nation in overall defense, is second against the run while Pitt ranks No. 8.
"I saw the films of Navy against Boston College," Trocano said. "Their backs run hard and they have a good quarterback. We can't take them lightly and I'm sure we won't."
Navy is a seven-point underdog and Leszczynski said, "That's fine with me. If we were favored over Pitt, they'd be out to prove something. I don't think we'll sneak up on them, though."
Not with an undefeated team in late October.