ANNAPOLIS, NOV. 4 -- Navy's struggling football team got a bit of good news today. Freshman quarterback Alton Grizzard, who was unable to throw in practice Monday and Tuesday because of a pinched nerve in his neck, threw in a workout tonight and is expected to start Saturday against eighth-ranked Syracuse.

"He's pretty banged up," Navy Coach Elliot Uzelac said of Grizzard, who replaced senior John Nobers. "He's gotta be able to throw to play."

After tonight's session, Uzelac said Grizzard "got stronger as the night went on. He'll take treatment on it tonight and he'll be fine."

If Grizzard is unable to play, Nobers or sophomore Paul Bowman will start for Navy (1-7), said Uzelac, trying to stay upbeat despite a 56-13 loss at Notre Dame and the prospect of playing potent Syracuse (8-0) only seven days later.

"The thing about last Saturday was that Notre Dame was very good and, unfortunately, we didn't play up to our potential," Uzelac said today at his weekly news conference. "I don't know how many opportunities we'll have to make changes due to injuries. I just want them to go out and play harder and better and I think they will. They're just as upset as we are. They want to win this week and I think they're going to go out and give great effort, I really do."

However, there are other problems. Navy will be without running back Chuck Smith, who continues to be the team's rushing leader with 364 yards despite missing the last three games with a sprained knee. Also injured are defensive backs Mike Marchildon (sprained knee), Curtis Irby (sprained knee) and Paul Day; linebackers Ray Worthington (sprained knee) and Pat Donnelly (sprained neck); and linemen Clark Nichols (sprained ankle) and Scott Prinz (sprained knee).

Uzelac said he will delay any surgery on his injured knee until after the season (cartilage and a ligament in his right knee were torn at Notre Dame when he was rolled into on the sideline). Still, he says, he can't put off the Orangemen.

"Hey, they're there. They're on the schedule -- three big ones in a row," Uzelac said of Navy's games in consecutive weeks with Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse. "I still think we're going to benefit from this in the long run with this young group of kids.

"As an example, I thought there was a tremendous bright spot in last Saturday's game that no one really saw that much and that was the performance and confidence of Alton Grizzard. I'll tell you right now, man, that young guy on the sideline was more into that game than any other game we've had. He was not shaken up {by the atmosphere of Notre Dame Stadium}. He threw the ball better, he challenged Notre Dame on some things, he made some excellent checks."

Navy Notes: Junior kicker Ted Fundoukos has made all of his seven field goal attempts this season. Including one he kicked against Syracuse last season, he has made eight in a row. The school record is 10, by Steve Fehr in 1980 . . . Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson said quarterback Don McPherson will probably start despite a turf toe injury, but nose guard Ted Gregory may not play because of a sprained knee.