ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 26 -- Although his Navy football team has won two of its first three games, Coach George Chaump knows there is considerable room for improvement. So in an effort to plug some holes before they turn into a landslide, he is experimenting with several key players at unfamiliar positions as the Midshipmen prepare for Saturday's home game against Boston College.

Rodney Purifoy, who had been the No. 1 tailback, drew the toughest assignment. He is learning the duties of the wide cornerback.

Darrell Graham has moved from wide corner to free safety. Tailback Jason Pace is doubling as a fullback and quarterback Jason Van Matre has shifted to tailback.

"We're trying to put people where they can help our football team," Chaump said. "We have to play better. We have played two teams, Richmond and Villanova, that are not two of our tougher opponents, and we didn't put them away.

"If we continue to play the way we did this past week, we won't have many victories. We're not only an inexperienced team, we're a very young team. We're making mistakes that are self-destructive. We're not panicking, but we're trying to take the right approach to solve the problems. We've been moving people because of necessity."

Obviously, pass defense has been one of the problems, with opponents completing 55 of 90 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns. Chaump is hoping that Purifoy's speed can be an asset in the secondary.

Purifoy, a junior who was a high school star at H.D. Woodson in Washington, rolled up 620 yards rushing last year. But he has been ineffective following off-season shoulder surgery, gaining only 92 yards in 28 carries.

"His reaction was like any good midshipman would," Chaump said. "He said, 'If this will help the team, fine.' It wasn't a case of telling him he had to play there or not at all. In fact, I said if he felt it wasn't working out or if he wanted to go back to tailback, just to let me know.

"But if he does okay, he'll play there. He's a good athlete and he has good speed. We seem to be deep at tailback, with Pace coming along pretty good and {Ivan} Bullard coming back. And we really need help in the secondary."

Pace, a senior, gained 102 yards on 17 carries against Villanova, the first 100-yard day by any Navy runner other than quarterback Alton Grizzard since Purifoy got 118 against The Citadel in the second game of 1989.

Chaump would like to see Pace and Bullard, a highly regarded sophomore, in the same backfield. Coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, Bullard has not played this season because of hamstring problems. He is expected to see some action Saturday.

With seniors Grizzard and Gary McIntosh filling the quarterback role, Van Matre probably would be used simply as a kick returner this year. Working at tailback, he may get to execute some of Chaump's patented trick plays.

"Van Matre will be a quarterback," Chaump said. "This is strictly temporary, but for now I think he can get some work at tailback."

This is exam week at the academy, hardly the best time to have players studying the duties of new positions as well. But Chaump doesn't think he can put things off, with Air Force following Boston College on the schedule.

"Exam week is a tough time to play football, period," Chaump said. "It is strenuous. They know that and we know that. But they're special people and they're going to have to suck it up and go."

Chaump gave a vote of confidence to Grizzard, who has been struggling.

Asked if he was concerned about Grizzard's play, Chaump said, "We are. We're trying to make adjustments to tap his talents. We have to use him in a wise fashion. Instead of drop-back passes, we'll probably go to more action passes, rollouts and bootlegs."

Midshipmen Notes: Chaump said, "We need a win over a team like BC. It would be great for our program and give our players confidence." . . . Coach Jack Bicknell, whose Boston College team is 0-2, said, "We need a win, any kind, ugly-looking or whatever." . . . Outscored by 60-16 in losses to Pittsburgh and Ohio State, Boston College has managed only one touchdown -- on a pass interception. Bicknell said, "I'm not panicking, but I'd certainly like to score some points."