Navy Coach George Welsh said today he isn't nervous about Saturday's 81st meeting between the Midshipmen and Army at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
Perhaps it's because Welsh feels confident his team (7-3) is indeed 18 1/2 points (betting line) better than the Cadets (3-6-1). Perhaps it's because he feels, with a Garden State Bowl date against Houston Dec. 14, there's lttle likelihood his team will play shoddily in the 3:50 p.m. nationally televised contest (WJLA-TV-7).
"Right now, the bowl game means nothing to us," said Welsh at today's weekly press conference. "Beating Army is what's important at this moment. A victory would allow us to retain the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy (the annual award given to the service academy with the best football mark) and, of course, we want to win because we're playing Army. That game is still the most important to the Naval Academy."
Welsh was in good humor today and with good reason. His team is almost healthy; they have had a two-week rest after handling nemesis Georgia Tech, 19-8, and Army is not enjoying one of its better seasons.
"We've had some rest and our morale is good," Welsh said. "Army is better than it appears. Their defense has been blown out a couple of times (they lost to Pittsburgh, 45-7), but they hustle. Their offense is a lot better than last year (when Navy won, 31-7). They're running and throwning the ball better."
The Mids are ranked seventh in the nation in both team defense and scoring with 231.2-yard and 10.5-point averages, respectively.