"Stagg Fears Purdue" was the standard headline in the old days, before Stagg's Chicago teams would go out and bury the Boilmakers, 100 or so to nothing.

"Washington Worries Welsh" has the benefit of alliteration. It also has another advantage: truth. Navy Coach George Welsh is concerned that the nationally ranked Huskies could trample his injury-riddled 4-2 club in Saturday's televised contest in Seattle.

"They're easily the best team we've played," Welsh said of a 5-1 Washington club that manhandled, 50-7, an Air Force team that beat Navy. "We're just playing a football team that's one of the best in the country has been for three years now.

"They break more tackles than probably any team we've played for years. They have three excellent wide receivers and they're an outstanding college team in pass protection.They have a couple of 275-280 pound tackles jammed in there and you just never get to their passer (Tom Flick).

"He's an outstanding quarterback right now. He uses that time to advantage. He's been sacked once and hurried twice and how many passes has he thrown (146, completing 86 for 1,132 yards and six touchdowns)?

"It's a dilemma. I'd like to have the Steelers' defense to go after them and cornerbacks like the Redskins to cover them."

So why doesn't Welsh put his team on a bus Saturday, drive to Washington, D.C., and claim he confused the location?

"I always feel there's a way to win," Welsh said. "If we have our best effort of the season, everybody's sharp and hustling, who knows? We've won a couple of games like that before.

"I don't think it's a mismatch. I'd feel better if we had our offensive line back so we could keep the ball some. We have to have good kicking and get a couple of breaks. In a game there are always a couple of things that can happen.

"We have to keep them short, don't give up any long runs and long passes. Maybe they'll fumble. Our defense can hold up if they don't have to stay on the field too long."

Don James, the Washington coach, joined the Navy press conference by telephone and referred to his three interior defensive linemen -- tackles Fletcher Jenkins and Rusty Olsen and nose guard Mark Jerue -- as the "three most consistent players on our team." That is bad news for Navy, with its decimated offensive line.

Six offensive linemen who had been playing either first or second string will miss the Washington game: guards Cliff Hagan, Dennis McCall and Pete Warker, and tackles Rich Welch, Craig Smith and Bob Moore. Welsh has been forced to resort to a patch job, with outstanding guard Frank McCallister designated to start at right tackle.

"I would feel better about our football team if we were where we were three weeks ago," Welsh said. "We're just not as good a football team now. We're six games into the season and the same things are happening as before: guys missing practice, guys who can't practice, guys who are out. We can't get a football team together.

"It started in 1973 and it's gotten worse every year.It must be something about this school. I think our team starts to get a little tired. We wear down some. Maybe that's why we have the injuries. I really don't know the reasons for them.

"Some of our injuries have been real freaks.Hagan and (Doug) donatelli needed knee surgery and both of them were hit by our own men in freak plays."

With all the rest of Navy's games on AstroTurf, the casualty list does not figure to grow shorter. In fact, the future appears bleak, despite Welsh's laughing statement that "at least next week we can take it easy after Washington."

Next week the Mids play Notre Dame.