Navy safety Jeff Shoemake, who suffered a dislocated left knee in Saturday's game against Notre Dame, underwent major surgery today to repair the damage.
A Navy spokesman said Shoemake, a junior from Lewisville, Tex., would be out the remainder of this season. The surgery was performed at Anne Arundel County Hospital by Navy team physician Capt. Jay Cox.
Shoemake, Navy's leading punt returner and pass interceptor this season, was injured in the first period of Navy's 38-0 loss at Notre Dame when he was blocked by Tony Hunter.
Shoemake was taken from the field on a stretcher and remained in a South Bend hospital until Tuesday, when he was flown here. He will remain in the hospital indefinitely.
The loss of Shoemake is a major blow to the Midshipmen (5-3) as they try to rebound against Syracuse Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
"There isn't anybody on the team we'd miss any more than Jeff Shoemake," said Coach George Welsh. "Besides being our best defensive back and running back punts, he was a real team leader. It's going to be tough without him, but we'll just have to live with it."
Shoemake has five pass interceptions and has returned 11 punts for 62 yards.
Welsh said senior John Foley would start in Shoemake's safety position and Kurt Dixon has been moved from cornerback to safety to serve as his backup.
Linebacker Andy Ponseigo will return punts.
"He's the next best one we have," said Welsh. "He's been the up man on punt returns all season, so he has some experience there."
Ponseigo has returned one punt this season for seven yards and is the team's leading tackler with 108 tackles, 39 more than any other Midshipman.
Backup quarterback Tom Tarquinio, who sprained his ankle Saturday, also is expected to miss the Syracuse game.
Starting quarterback Marco Pagnanelli suffered a bruised back and bruised ribs against the Irish, but Welsh said he'll play Saturday.
"We're more bruised and battered right now than ever before," Welsh said. "This always happens the week after we play real physical teams like Notre Dame or Michigan."
The Midshipmen are expected to have linebacker Ken Fancher back, however. Fancher has missed the last six games with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Syracuse is 2-5-1, but Welsh said Navy is still "going to have to play as good as we can to win."
Syracuse is led by 5-foot-7 halfback Joe Morris, who gained 185 yards in the Orangemen's 47-24 victory over Colgate last week. Morris has 840 yards this season and has 19 games in his career in which he has rushed for 100 yards or more.
Syracuse also has one of the nation's better kickers in Gary Anderson, who hasn't missed a field goal or an extra point this season. He has 13 field goals and, counting one he made at the end of last season, is only two shy of the NCAA record.
Syracuse has problems in the secondary; it has yielded an average of 204 yards passing per game.
Navy has won eight straight games at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Syracuse is the last team to defeat the Midshipmen there. The Orangemen won, 30-14, in 1979.