Gary Tranquill is disconsolate, the Midshipmen are disorganized and Navy, quite bluntly, is 1-4.
The brief lift Navy got from its upset of Virginia two weeks ago disappeared in Saturday's 24-7 loss to 13th-ranked Air Force. Now the Midshipmen are back where they started: in for some reevaluation.
"We're at the point now where we have to do something, somewhere, to make something happen," Tranquill said. "I may make some changes."
What was pondered more than anything else at the Naval Academy yesterday was the game that might have been, because the Midshipmen were not without opportunities against Air Force. But their only score came on Bill Byrne's 15-yard pass to John Sniffen.
"We had only one good offensive series the whole game," Tranquill said. "That sort of hamstrings you in terms of what you're trying to do."
Navy's only success, against Virginia, came with what Tranquill called a high-risk offense. Saturday, Air Force shut down what seemed a thoroughly predictable game plan. The Midshipmen were stopped on three scoring chances in the first quarter and Napoleon McCallum was held to 67 yards on just 15 carries, including only 20 yards in the first half. Navy's lack of a passing game allowed the Falcons to deprive him of his two favorite plays, the off tackle and the sweep.
"I had the same intentions Saturday (of a risky game plan)," Tranquill said. "But it doesn't look like that kind of football when it doesn't work."
Although Byrne shouldered much of the blame for Navy's inability to generate more points -- he completed nine of 24 passes for 94 yards and looked hesitant -- Tranquill said Byrne was far from the whole problem. The offensive line played poorly, and patterns were blown.
Although Tranquill said he will reevaluate Byrne in practice this week, a change at quarterback is unlikely. Reserve Bob Misch, who underwent offseason knee surgery, is bothered by a knee brace that limits his mobility and completed three of seven passes for 20 yards and was sacked once in the final 6:30.
Most of the changes are expected on the depth chart. "We'll move someone ahead, maybe give someone else a little more time," Tranquill said.
One area that might be shaken up is the offensive line, which was ineffective on both pass and run blocking. Byrne had little time to throw and Navy was limited to 135 yards rushing. The offensive line problems were most telling on third-down situations: the Midshipmen converted just five of 16.
"As a whole it was our worst game up front," Tranquill said. "We've just got to get a little better performance out of the up-front people."
Navy faces its second Division I-AA team in Lafayette at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Saturday. But Lafayette cannot be taken lightly after Navy's upset loss to Delaware in the second game of the season. Following Lafayette, there is not another potential light touch on the schedule: the Midshipmen face Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Syracuse, South Carolina and Army. That is a frightening prospect for a 1-4 team.
"We regrouped once; we just have to keep going, what the hell," Tranquill said. "I'm only concerned with Lafayette."
Virginia Coach George Welsh was not as disappointed in the Cavaliers' 27-24 loss at Clemson, their 25th straight to the Tigers and their second upset this season.
"We still have six games to play and we've only lost two," Welsh said. "That's how I look at it. We could have won -- that's the closest we've been to them since I've been here. But we'll forget about it."
What does merit some attention is the Cavaliers' inconsistent defense. In both losses, Virginia (3-2) has been outrushed; Clemson (2-3), which broke a three-game losing streak, outgained the Cavaliers, 287 yards to 218.
"We're just not quite right defensively," Welsh said.
The Cavaliers' inability to stop the Tigers didn't help them offensively. They have scored 98 points in first halves this season to only 40 in the second, and they had just 37 net yards offense in the fourth quarter against Clemson. Their only opportunity to score in the fourth period failed when quarterback Don Majkowski was sacked on third and eight at the Clemson 40 with five minutes remaining.
"We just needed a little more offense," Welsh said. "I wouldn't change much. We needed one more touchdown."