ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 9 -- Thirteen minutes into Saturday's season opener against Richmond, Navy found itself in deep trouble. The Spiders led, 10-0, Navy did not have a first down and senior quarterback Alton Grizzard was unable to lift his passing arm.
Worse yet, Grizzard's backup was Brian Ellis, a sophomore who had taken very few snaps in practice because, until Thursday, the No. 2 man was senior Gary McIntosh, the former high-school all-American at Gonzaga.
George Chaump, Navy's new coach, met with the quarterbacks Thursday and told them that Grizzard would start against Richmond. McIntosh, who apparently entertained hopes that the job would be his, did not return for that afternoon's practice and did not appear for Saturday's game.
When Grizzard threw an unwise pass from his own end zone that Chantilly High graduate Terry Warren returned for a Richmond touchdown, there might have been some feelings on the Navy squad that perhaps McIntosh deserved the job after all.
By game's end, though, Grizzard had redeemed himself for any early shortcomings. He passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns and scored a fourth himself as Navy won, 28-17. As a result, he was chosen today as East Coast Athletic Conference offensive player of the week.
"I admire guys who come back from adversity," Chaump said. "You have to learn to take a safety and not throw it up for grabs; but the big thing is the way he came back in leadership and led us to 28 points. As long as we have Grizzard at quarterback, we'll be a good offensive football team."
Although McIntosh could not be reached for comment, it seemed that he realized a similar tenet: As long as Grizzard was at quarterback, he would not see much action.
McIntosh has endured some unhappy times since he was Saturday's hero at Gonzaga in 1985, named to all-American teams by Parade magazine and Adidas/Scholastic magazine and listed among the "Best of the Blue Chips" by The Sporting News.
He enrolled at Maryland, was redshirted and decided to transfer to the Naval Academy. While Grizzard played as a freshman, McIntosh was sitting out a transfer year. Although McIntosh saw considerable playing time as a sophomore, Grizzard, the better runner, had the inside track as the engineer of Elliot Uzelac's wishbone.
McIntosh's last chance, for all realistic purposes, came last year when he played against The Citadel while Grizzard was injured. A last-minute interception deep in Citadel territory cost Navy the game and when Grizzard came back the following week and guided the Midshipmen over North Carolina, the competition for No. 1 was over. By season's end, McIntosh was a reserve wide receiver.
With Chaump's arrival and the switch to a multiple-set offense, McIntosh's hopes apparently rose, since he was returned to the quarterback position and many considered him a better passer than Grizzard. But no one close to the situation ever seriously thought Grizzard, a co-captain, would lose his role as No. 1.
Grizzard already has amassed 4,135 yards of total offense and needs only 272 more to become the No. 1 man in Navy history.
On Wednesday, Chaump said at a media luncheon, "McIntosh is nipping right at Grizzard's heels. He's a good quarterback, he can throw the ball and he's a big, strong young man with a good attitude. I like the way he's progressing. I also like the way Grizzard plays and leads the team."
That same day, a member of Chaump's staff discussed the situation with McIntosh: He would play, but he would not be the No. 1 man. When Chaump passed along the same word Thursday, McIntosh expressed disappointment, left without comment and simply disappeared from the academy's football scene.
"At the time I was happy to see that he was disappointed, because it showed he was competitive," Chaump said. "At no time did he tell me he was leaving the team. I'd certainly be willing to talk to him, if he wants to talk to me.
"I feel sorry for Gary, because I believe him to be an excellent athlete and he would have enjoyed playing in this type of offense. He had an excellent attitude and a fine preseason camp. This comes somewhat as a surprise. I had anticipated him seeing playing time."
Grizzard also said he had not talked with McIntosh about his decision to leave the team. Terps Okay
Maryland escaped with more than its second harrowing victory of the young season at West Virginia, as three injured players -- linebacker Scott Whittier, offensive guard Ron Staffileno and defensive back Ron Reagan -- all likely will return for this weekend's game against Clemson.
Whittier hurt his neck in the waning stages of the Terps' 14-10 victory, but a school spokesman said yesterday he was fine. Staffileno missed most of the game with a bruised left shoulder and will be evaluated on a daily basis. The same applies to Reagan, who suffered a sprained left ankle.