Navy Coach George Welsh didn't wink or blink when he paid linebacker Ted Dumbauld the ultimate compliment today.

"He works too hard," said Welsh. "Maybe he's studying too hard, trying to keep his 3.5 average. I think he needs some rest. He comes off the practice field completely exhausted.He gives it everything he has."

Welsh would love to have three more Dumbaulds. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior played as if he were three people Saturday in the Mids' 6-3 loss to Virginia. He and Virginia back Tommy Vigorito (122 yards on 33 carries) saw quite a bit of one another during the long afternoon -- Dumbauld was in on 23 tackles. Many of them came after the aggressive Dumbauld made across-the-field runs chasing the elusive Vigorito.

"I didn't know how many tackles I had but I knew I was in on a lot of plays," Dumbauld said. "i just went to the ball. We had looked forward to the ball. We had looked forward to that game for so long and we put so much effort into it. It was disappointing to lose that one."

For two brief seconds, Navy thought it might have lost Dumbauld. On a Vigorito sweep, Dumbauld didn't see ne of the Cavalier linemen peeling back for a block. Dumbauld woke up seconds later and wanted to know if he made the hit. On another play, Dumbauld made a hit and jammed his hand.

"I just had the wind knocked out of me that time.The hand is okay and I will definitely play against Kent State (Saturday at Annapolis)," Dumbauld said. "Near the end of the game, we knew we needed a big play to get the ball back for the offense to have one last chance. Unfortunately, things didn't work out."

After thinking about the defeat, the soft-spoken Dumbauld had a menacing look in his eyes when Kent State was mentioned.

"I'm sure we'll be better Saturday. I know I made a ton of errors (against the Cavs), judging by the films. "There's plenty of room for improvement for myself and the team. We plan to start this week."

One area in which Dumbauld needs no improvement is the classroom. He is carrying a 3.54 average in systems engineering, one of the toughest majors at the academy. Always a good student (he was salutatorian in high school), Dumbauld likes to operate computers almost as much as he enjoys "pancaking running backs."

"A lot of people are surprised at my grades," Dumbauld said. "I don't go around advertising them. I get personal satisfaction out of high marks."

The mark in which Dumbauld is most interested at the moment is a 10-1 record for the Mids this year.

"I think once the offense gets a few things smoothed out, we'll be fine," said Dumbauld, who made the game-saving interception last year in Navy's 17-10 victory over Virginia. "It would be nice to sit on the bench on a sunny afternoon and watch a football game. I'd like to play as few plays as possible. Playing 80 plays a game can be rough.

"We're not going into this week's game thinking how bad it would be to lose two straight games," said Dumbauld, who was selected ECAC player of the week in his only two previous starts, once as a sophomore and once last year. "We're just hoping to cut down on our mistakes. We do that and everything will fall in place."

Welsh said split end Troy Mitchell (sprained ankle) and defensive tackle Steve Chambers (knee) will miss the Kent State game. Offensive tackle Rick Welch (broken hand), who got in for a few plays against Virginia, will start this week. Welsh also said he was not disappointed in quarterback Fred Reitzel's nine-for-19 passing debut because "a few were dropped and the line didn't block that well" . . . This will be the first meeting between Navy and Kent State, 1-10 in '79. The Golden Flashes, who produced such pro athletes as Jack Lambert (Steelers), Steve Stone (Orioles) and the late Thurman Munson (Yankees), lost their opener to Marshall, 17-7, last week.