ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 23 -- Just as he sat down to begin his weekly news conference yesterday, someone asked Naval Academy football coach Elliot Uzelac how he was doing.

"Well, my wife's kept all the razor blades and knives hidden away," Uzelac said with a chuckle. "So, I guess everything's fine."

Unless her husband can continue to maintain his sense of humor, Wendy Uzelac might have to take more drastic measures seven weeks from now.

Navy, which has opened its season with losses to a pair of Division I-AA teams, plays six of its next seven games against Division I-A teams. The fun starts Saturday against North Carolina at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (2 p.m.). It continues with Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg; Air Force; I-AA Penn, in Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind., and Syracuse.

"If we can cut down on our mistakes," Uzelac said, "we can win our share."

After Navy's opening 27-12 loss to William and Mary, the talk on defense was about blown assignments that led to big plays. The talk on offense was about the need to run the wishbone more efficiently and the need for quarterback John Nobers to improve.

In last week's 24-9 loss to Lehigh, Navy's defense allowed five pass plays of 14 yards or more, four rushing plays of 11 yards or more and, for the second game, failed to produce a turnover. The offense fumbled nine times. And Nobers, who gained 87 yards rushing on 20 carries, completed just five of 13 passes for 72 yards with one interception, muffed a field goal snap and was replaced late in the game by freshman Alton Grizzard. Grizzard, the first plebe to play quarterback since 1976, will play this week if Nobers again performs poorly, Uzelac said.

Uzelac also said yesterday that while he is sure his players are smart enough to eliminate the mental mistakes, he is not sure that they are athletically talented enough to avoid, against I-A teams, the physical mistakes they made against I-AA teams.

In short, the Midshipmen are talented enough to win their upcoming games if they play nearly perfect football -- something Uzelac isn't sure they can do against I-A teams like North Carolina, Virginia Tech, et. al.

"Only time will tell," he said.

Time, and the schedule, will tell about Navy's ability to change its current situation.

"We cannot handle six or seven {games against high-powered I-A opponents} a year," Uzelac said. "Maybe not even five."

In addition to Army and Air Force, Navy's 1988 schedule includes home games against Temple and Notre Dame and road games against Syracuse, South Carolina and Pittsburgh. In 1989, Navy is scheduled to play Brigham Young and Syracuse at home and North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Notre Dame on the road.

"If we improve as a team each and every year and we improve our talent," Uzelac said, "then we can compete better with those teams. We may not go 11-0, but we can certainly win seven, eight or nine games. But we need more players everywhere. This is not to say they are not good enough this year; they just have to learn how to eliminate mistakes. In any case, it won't be an overnight thing."

"I don't think that there is going to be that much of a limit to what can be done here," Uzelac said. "I'm waiting to see. I want to find out just how far we can go. And I think we'll go a lot farther than people think. It's just going to take some time and a lot of hard work."