Navy's 0-2 football start has not, at least so far, produced the completely glum attitude it could. "It's not that we've been terrible," said middle guard George Herlong today. "Essentially it's been good football, but we've made a lot of mistakes."
Mostly missed tackles, Herlong said, about 40 of them, have diluted the rest of the team's efforts.
"Maybe not enough concentration," he said. "I still think we could have won in both of those games (at Virginia and Mississippi State). But overall, I think we're pretty optimistic. I don't think anybody hasn't tried hard, or given up."
Playing a pair of night games altered the routine somewhat, Herlong said, but now that the Midshipmen are back home, "it's a different feeling. Knowing you're in front of your own people does make a difference.
"When you're on the field you don't notice it, but on the sidelines, there's a sense of something. You can feel it behind you."
Because of exams this week, Coach Gary Tranquill said at Navy's weekly press luncheon, a lot of late studying may account for loss of a little concentration on the field.
"It's tough coming back after getting beat like we did (38-10 by Mississippi State)," he said.
Tranquill talked about the sort of mistakes that can "drive a coach crazy."
"Some of them are not so visible," he said. "When a lineman steps the wrong way, when a receiver uses the wrong route--those are the kinds of thing that'll kill you. And we've made a bundle."
Tranquill hopes the trend toward missteps begins to shift when the Midshipmen play Lehigh on Saturday. The teams haven't met since 1913, when Navy shut down the Engineers, 39-0.
This year's Lehigh club, which beat Northeastern in its opener, plays what Tranquill called a "basically controlled passing game. They'll drop back, occasionally throw it up the middle deep, do any number of things," he said. "They threw the ball 48 times against Colgate (a 47-28 loss)."
In that game, Lehigh had been up, 28-17, going into the third quarter, but was outscored, 24-0, in the last period.
Marty Horne, Lehigh's sophomore quarterback, completed 24 of 39 passes for 274 yards, including a touchdown. "Horne is good, although he has made some sophomore mistakes," Tranquill said. "But he's also got the ability to make the big play. Very mobile, with the good arm, and his receiver (Rennie Benn) wants it all the time--he caught 14 on Saturday."
In a phone interview, Lehigh Coach John Whitehead called Navy tailback Napoleon McCallum its big strength, and added, "Navy has more people that could play for us than we have people who could play for them. I think they outnumber us."
Tranquill smiled at that, reminded that Navy does not often "outpersonnel" an opponent. "I don't know if we really do," he said. "In some situations, such as at Mississippi State, we have guys who could play for them. There just aren't as many."
Tranquill was asked about making changes in his lineup. "We're not going to make changes for the hell of it," he said. "We're trying to get some of our young linebackers some more work. We're taking Pete Oswald (a center) to work at guard; you may see Gregg Sears at center. I don't know what you can do to get more scoring."
McCallum, who had 151 yards in 39 carries Saturday night, leads the country in all-purpose running (averaging 187 yards per game) and was named to this week's all-ECAC team. Eric Fudge's ankle sprain and Jeff Johnson's shoulder sprain leave both players questionable for Saturday. Split end Bill Cebak, out with a bruised thigh, possibly will return for the following week's game at Washington.