ANNAPOLIS, OCT. 11 -- In the middle of a rain-plagued practice today, Navy Coach George Chaump removed his cap and scratched his head, before stepping over to explain a mistake to one of his players.

Chaump has had many reasons to scratch his head during this difficult 2-3 season that has been marked by turnovers, poor blocking and the inability to sustain drives.

In one area, Chaump is back where he started five weeks ago. That concerns the difficult decision of naming a starting quarterback for Saturday's home game against Akron.

The choices are cocaptain Alton Grizzard, who took every snap of the first four games before a bruised lung forced him out of Saturday's game against Air Force, and Gary McIntosh, who handled the chores in that defeat and has been impressive in practice this week.

"I'm not certain yet who will start," Chaump said today. "But I can go with either without blinking and whatever we do, both will play. They're both ready to go, they'll both play and both will show up well."

In that respect, the situation is different from the one that disrupted the team just before the opener against Richmond. Chaump intended to go with only one quarterback, in order for his choice to gain experience with the new system, and when Grizzard was picked, McIntosh defected from the team.

McIntosh returned 10 days later and Chaump left his future up to the players, who allowed him to return. But the missing 10 days have certainly hurt his progress and no doubt contributed to a mediocre performance at Air Force, when three interceptions and a fumble overshadowed McIntosh's 15 completions for 210 yards.

During today's session on the AstroTurf field, McIntosh was the sharper passer. However, throwing the ball with ample time against the scout team defense is not the same as throwing in the face of the Saturday blitzes that have become standard procedure against the Midshipmen.

"The name of the game is passing under pressure," Chaump said. "Both are better passers than they have shown. The best passers are those with good arms and great lines in front of them. That's so important. People have been coming after us, gambling out there, and they're coming out ahead, because we're not taking advantage."

Grizzard was permitted to return to practice Wednesday and today marked the second straight practice in which he and McIntosh alternated plays.

"Both are taking snaps equally," Chaump said. "Grizzard didn't practice Monday and Tuesday, so he's behind two days. Grizzard has more game experience, but McIntosh has four more hours this week and he is throwing the ball better than he ever has.

"I think competition is healthy and brings out the best in people. I'm looking at this as a positive thing, because both have been superb about it and they're helping each other out. It's a case of two men wanting the same thing very badly, but only one can start."

If Grizzard is chosen, there is no fear of McIntosh reacting as he did before. If McIntosh is selected, Grizzard no doubt will be angry, but he will help from the sideline until he is waved in, then probably turn on Akron like a wounded bear.

Grizzard said he had experienced no ill effects from the bruised lung, which was not surprising. He had claimed to notice nothing wrong in the first place and spent last week trying to convince both Navy and Air Force physicians to let him play.

"I did have a little rust from being off a week," Grizzard said. "It definitely affected the reps {repetitions}. But I stayed in it mentally when I couldn't practice, thinking what I'd be doing on each play, and I think that really helped me."

The one thing McIntosh must surmount if he is to take away Grizzard's job is the respect Grizzard receives from teammates and opponents as an indefatigable competitor.

After the Air Force game, the Falcons' nose guard, Steve Brennan, was asked if Navy's quarterback change had any effect on the outcome. The reply: "I think Grizzard is more of a competitor."

After Boston College beat Navy, Eagles Coach Jack Bicknell said: "That quarterback {Grizzard} had me talking to myself. Our guys would be draped all over him, but he'd still get his right arm free and throw the ball. That kid's a winner."