Army against Navy. Don't be too impressed with Navy's domination of Army in the 1970s (seven of 10 victories), its impressive 7-3 record this year, its date in the Garden State Bowl against Houston and its high national ranking in two NCAA defensive categories.
Also, don't put too much emphasis on Army's 3-6-1 record, its failure to stop teams (it yielded 156 points in its last five games) and the rebuilding efforts under first-year Coach Ed Cavanaugh.
Past performances will mean little today when Army and Navy tangle for the 81st time (the series is tied, 37-37-6). After 25 years at Kennedy Stadium here, the nationally televised game (WJLA-TV-7 in Washington) will move to Veterans Stadium, with the kickoff slated for 3:50 p.m.
"We know we have a bowl game ahead of us, but we want to finish our season with a win over Army," said senior cocaptain Frank McCallister, a three-year starter at guard. "This game is like a second season for us. Regardless of what our record is, people only remember what we did against Army."
An 18 1/2-point favorite to rout Army for the third straight year, Navy has tailback Ed Meyers, who rushed for a school-record 278 yards on 42 carries in a 31-7 triumph last year. He leads an offense averaging 323 yards. cCurrently the sixth-leading rusher in Navy history, the 5-foot-9, 200-pound Meyers needs 187 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark this season.
With Meyers, senior tailback Mike Sherlock (424 yards) and fullback Kevin Tolbert (402), Navy Coach George Welsh will try to establish the running game early.
After a fine start, quarterback Fred Reitzel, who has completed 64 passes in 145 attempts for 770 yards and six touchdowns, has tailed off slightly. Sophomore Tom Tarquinio has been effective in relief, however, connecting on 20 of 30 passes for 230 yards.
"I don't know what type of defensive schemes Army will use," Welsh said. "I don't think they'll key on Meyers. We have enough in our offense so they can't key on anyone. Keying on players is overrated, anyway."
Welsh said Reitzel would start but "Tarquinio will play a lot."
"I expect Army to use something different on defense, maybe an extra lineman or secondary people to help stop our run. We just have to run the ball as well as we have been. We can't practice against 30 different things." b
The Cadets also rely heavily on their running attack.Flashy sophomore Gerald Walker, who, like Meyers, wears No. 40, is also hoping for a big game. The tailback needs 160 yards to become the third Cadet in history to reach 1,000 yards in a season.
The 5-11, 190-pound Walker could be in for a long, bruising afternoon. Navy is especially tough against the run. Following their 19-7 destruction of Georgia Tech two weeks ago, the Mids were seventh in both team defense and scoring defense with 231.2 and 10.5 averages, respectively. Senior linebackers Mike Kronzer and Ted Dumbauld, with 137 and 135 tackles, respectively, along with ends Mike Rouser and Travis Wallington and middle guard Tim Jordan are enjoying exceptional seasons.
"Army is probably better than anyone we've beaten except Washington," Welsh said, "We have to keep pressure on the quarterback or he'll sit back there and pick us apart."
Cavanaugh, an assistant last year under Lou Saban, has the Cadets playing a more wide-open offense.
"We have one of the finest receivers in the country in Mike Fahnestock and running backs in Walker," Cavanaugh said. "We had some injuries earlier, but we're at full strength now and would like to end our season on a high note."
Jerryl Bennett, who missed four games, still has completed 70 of 144 passes for 1,016 yards and six touchdowns. Split end Fahnestock has snared 45 passes for 914 yards and seven touchdowns. He will finish second on Army's all-time list in both catches and total yards.
The Mids did not practice today and were in high spirits. The only sour note of the 2 1/2-hour bus trip to Philadelphia was the loud music that Welsh claimed he didn't recognize.
"Our morale is very good but I don't know how we'll execute until the game," the coach said. "Since most of our players weren't responsible for the previous 37 losses to Army, I haven't mentioned that the series is tied. I'm sure they know it."