The ninth week of their season, finds Coaches George Welsh of Navy and Frank Maloney of Syracuse timorously counting healthy bodies in preparation for Saturday's meeting at Syracuse. In neither case it is necessary to remove one's shoes.
"I think we're wearing down a little bit," Welsh said yesterday. "We're hurting defensively, like we have the last two weeks. The last three weeks have been tough physical games for us. That's why we used substitutes more against Notre Dame and we'll play a lot of substitutes this week."
End Charlie Thornton and middle guard Terry Huxel, who lead the 7-1 Mids in tackles for losses, will play only if a medical miracle occurs in the next couple of days. Thornton has a bruised thigh, Huxel an ankle injury. Cornerback Bob Wilson is doubtful with a thigh injury and banged-up defensive tackle John Merrill is expected to see limited action. Others, notably center Steve Kremer and tail back Mike Sherlock, will be at less that: 100 percent efficiency.
Bart Nixon will replace Thornton and A.B. Miller will start at middle guard. Charlie Meyers is scheduled to open in Wilson's place.
As for the 1-7 hosts, Maloney said that Syracuse had been "beaten up pretty good all year. This has been the worst of my five years here for injuries. In the Pitt game (an 15-17 loss on Saturday) we lost our fullback, Dennis Hartman, with a brusied thigh."
Bill Hurley, the quarterback whose 20 completions wrecked Navy in last year's 45-34 horror, fractured three ribs in Syracuse's opener against Florida State and, unless Maloney is an adept a healer as Notre Dame's Dan Devine, Hurley will not play Saturday.
He returned four weeks ago to lead the Orangemen to their only victory, over West Virginia, but according to Maloney, "He took a pretty good beating and still has discomfort lifting his arm to throw."
Despit the disparity in the teams' records, Welsh expects "a tough game. Syracuse is one of the better 1-7 teams we'll ever play. They've moved the ball against everybody, probably as well against Penn State as anyone has. They've given up some big plays, which have hurt them, but they have good personnel and they'll be a big problem for us."
Welsh does not expect that deflating loss to Notre Dame to carry any aftereffects.
"You have to forget the wins on Sunday and you have to forget the losses, too," Welsh said. "The team isn't discouraged at all. I think we've forgotten about it. I haven't heard a word about it since Sunday night, which is good. It's no use talking about what might have happened if we hadn't done this or that."
While Welsh obviously was not pleased to lose a game, he was delighted that the oppressive media attention has been lifted from the Mids.
"It's been marvelous," Welsh said. "It's a lot better for me. I have more time for football. I think I lost an hour or two a day last week.
"It was tough for our kids to handle. They're not used to that. A lot of individual time was taken up. And I think it had an adverse effect on our young kids, continually reading how good they are."
Welsh promised that second-string quarterback Bob Powers would see action Saturday, after a solid performance in guiding the Mids to their only score against Notre Dame.
"Powers is going to play Saturday," Welsh said. "He's been throwing better the last couple of weeks and we have more confidence in him. He's a good quarterback. He hasn't hurt us passing and he gives us a little better running threat. Looking back, we probably should have used him a little more in some of the other games."
Welsh emphasized that his increased confidence in Powers was not balanced by any lack of confidence in No. 1 quarterback Bob Leszczynski, although Leszczynski has experienced problems holding onto the ball the last two weeks. Welsh acknowledged however, that anti-fumble drills are high on his list of priorities.
"We have to face it," Welsh said. "We've been turning the ball over too much the last three weeks. We have to concentrate on holding onto the football. We need more offense, especially early in the game, and if we can eliminate our mistake it will help."