Despite Pittsburgh's proclivity for giving up big yardage on passing plays, Navy Coach Gary Tranquill said he doesn't plan to come out throwing more than normal when the teams meet Saturday at Pitt Stadium at 12:20.
"You know I believe in running the ball, but we can't just come out and bang it at them," Tranquill said at today's weekly press luncheon at the Naval Academy. "I know their record is 1-6 but our players are smart enough to know Pitt has good athletes and can play. Pitt isn't that bad.
"We hope we don't have to throw the ball 60 times," he said. "Our average is between 25 and 30 and we want to keep it there . . . They have some inexperience in the secondary and have changed people a lot. We'll throw in a wrinkle here and there and try to mix up things, keep them off balance."
Pitt, which had nine straight winning seasons and bowl appearances going into this year, has shown little offense and has been outscored, 185-91.
Except for a not-too-impressive victory over East Carolina (17-10), Pittsburgh has been dominated in its six losses. The Panthers didn't cross midfield until midway through the final period in losing last week to Miami, 27-7.
Pitt Coach Foge Fazio said injuries and inconsistency have been the downfall of his team.
"We've had problems and just can't seem to get ourselves together," Fazio said. "We've had to shuffle people around and our quarterback situation has been unstable."
Navy has apparently found its quarterback. Bill Byrne, who has played well in leading the team to back-to-back victories to even its record at 3-3, has completed 52 percent of his passes for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, one short of the school record. More important, he has thrown 74 straight passes without an interception.
"Byrne is a concern for us," said Fazio, whose defense has given up an average of 221 yards passing and 10 touchdowns.
Navy's health has improved considerably in the past two weeks. Now, except for Napoleon McCallum (out for the year with a broken ankle) and receiver Ken Heine (out for two to four weeks with a broken bone in his arm), Navy is almost at full strength.
"We've used a lot of people and that's a big plus for us, especially in the secondary. A couple of weeks ago, we were scrambling to put together a good secondary," Tranquill said. "Now, everyone is healthy and we have a lot of people who can go in and play."