ANNAPOLIS, NOV. 14 -- Junior cornerback Bill Yancey considered it a display of confidence, not braggadocio, when he said last summer he expected to break the Navy one-season record for pass interceptions.

After six games, Yancey found himself somewhat below expectations -- he had none. Suddenly, though, the Landon School product has turned a corner. After picking off three passes in last week's 14-10 victory over Toledo, he has five interceptions in three games. The rest of the Navy team has a season total of seven.

"He's getting to be a ball hawk," said Coach George Chaump. "He's playing the ball well, reacting to the ball in the air and flying for it."

"I've developed more confidence as the season has progressed," Yancey said. "Now I'm just playing instead of thinking about coverages and what I have to do. I had a meeting with {secondary} Coach {Jerry} Hartman a few weeks ago. He's a perfectionist -- it's almost like we're competing for a spot every day -- and he said everyone had to work harder in practice. He said the hard work would pay off, but I never expected it to happen like this.

"I set a goal for myself this season. {Quarterback Alton} Grizzard asked me last summer how many interceptions I'd get this year and I said, 'Five.' He said, 'The record's seven or eight {actually eight by John Sturges in 1977}.' I said, 'I'll get one more than that.' But halfway through the season, I hadn't done much. Now, all of a sudden -- wow!"

When he attended Landon, Yancey earned letters in five sports -- football, basketball, tennis (he was ranked in Maryland at age 12), lacrosse and track. His track activity consisted of running a leg on the mile relay team, but he said he never ran as fast as he did late in Saturday's game, with Toledo leading, 10-7.

Yancey was lined up against a wide receiver on the far hashmarks when the Rockets' Neil Trotter broke down the right sideline. Trotter raced 66 yards before Yancey ran him down at the Toledo 17. Following a missed field goal attempt by the Rockets, Navy marched to the winning touchdown.

"His three interceptions were outstanding, but the greatest play he made was catching the runner from the opposite side of the field," Chaump said. "That was a game saver."

"I had a little wind behind me on that one," said Yancey, who was timed in 4.49 seconds for 40 yards during spring practice. "It surprised me, looking at the film. It looked like the linebacker took care of him, then he broke out and I just reacted.

"I thought someone else {safety Chad Chatlos} would catch him, but as the play went on, I realized I was the only one gaining ground. At the time, of course, I had no idea what the impact of the play would be. It certainly turned out to be my biggest game by far."

Yancey was a special-teams player last year until the Army game, when he assumed an important role after starter Steve Tazza was injured on the first series. Yancey is looking forward to repeating last season's victory over the Cadets, but first there is a Saturday engagement here against Delaware, a 10-9 winner over the Midshipmen a year ago.

"This is revenge for last year," Yancey said. "Everyone still has a bad taste in his mouth because nobody thought we should have lost that game. Everyone's pumped up. The coaches are excited. I'm excited."

With a 4-5 record, Navy must beat both Delaware and Army to finish with its first winning mark since 1982.

"This is the most important part of the season right here," Yancey said. "This will be the first winning season in I don't know how many years, but it's been a long time. Whatever it takes, we're going to do it."