Navy Coach Paul Johnson said he is looking forward to playing Maryland in the 2005 season opener and hopes his program is competitive by then. He also clarified remarks made Tuesday regarding his desire to face the Terrapins.

"It's a huge challenge for us," he said. "We get to play against a very good football team. We have to work to get competitive by the time we play them. . . . It wasn't like I said I didn't [want to] schedule Maryland, that wasn't what happened at all. [He was asked] did I ask to schedule Maryland and I said, 'No.' "

The Midshipmen (1-7) have lost 27 of their past 29 games dating from 2000. Maryland is the defending ACC champion. The teams have not met since 1965.

Defensive Numbers

A safety has led Navy in tackles each of the past six years, and sophomore safety Josh Smith appears to be on his way to keeping that streak alive. Smith has 86 tackles, 33 more than the next-closest teammate.

Smith also recorded the only interception for a defensive back this year when he intercepted a pass by Tulane junior quarterback J.P. Losman in a 51-30 loss to the Green Wave last week.

Losman, however, had the last word: He completed 25 of 35 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns. In the past seven games, opposing starting quarterbacks have completed 95 of 134 passes (71 percent) for 1,474 yards and 17 touchdowns with one interception against Navy.

"We've made them all look pretty good," Johnson said. "They complete a pretty high percentage against us. We need to get more pressure and cover better. . . . I don't think Losman threw more than one ball longer than 15 yards deep. We just missed some tackles."

Rare Weekend Off

Because Navy is idle this week, Johnson said he will give the team the weekend off following practice Friday. The Midshipmen play No. 4 Notre Dame (8-0) on Nov. 9 at Ravens Stadium.

"I'm giving the players the weekend off because we'll probably keep them here over Thanksgiving to work on Army," Johnson said.