Navy's Paul Johnson differs from a lot of college football coaches in that he allows his starting quarterback to get hit during the preseason. The way Johnson sees it, if a quarterback is going to run his triple-option, spread offense, he has to prove he's tough, durable and dependable.
But what happened to Midshipmen quarterback Aaron Polanco during yesterday morning's scrimmage at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium probably wasn't what Johnson had in mind. Polanco was drilled from behind by defensive end Jeff Vanak on his first pass attempt, and linebacker David Mahoney recovered Polanco's fumble.
That's how much of the two-hour scrimmage went for Polanco and the offense, as Navy's defense had 11 sacks and allowed the first-team offense to score only one touchdown -- a 54-yard run by Polanco.
"I don't think we're very good" on offense, Johnson said. "You can't play if you turn people loose and don't even bother to get in their way."
Johnson criticized his offensive line, which was missing starting tackles Tyson Stahl and Casey Hughes. Stahl, the left tackle, didn't participate in the scrimmage because of a sprained right ankle. Hughes, the right tackle and one of three returning starters on the offensive line, joined Stahl on the sideline during the first series after injuring his left ankle. Hughes left the stadium on crutches and was wearing a boot on his left foot.
With Hughes and Stahl out, center Marshall Green moved to left tackle, and backup Sam Brown played right tackle. They were repeatedly beaten by Vanak and left end Jeremy Chase. Johnson said he doesn't know if Hughes and Stahl will return before the Sept. 4 opener against Duke. Johnson said the only offensive lineman who has played consistently in camp is right guard August Roitsch, who was playing center yesterday.
The offensive line "is struggling," Johnson said. "I've been concerned. I don't think I ever stopped being concerned. . . . [But] that's all we've got. That's it. That's what's there."
Polanco, a senior replacing two-year starter Craig Candeto, ran 15 times for 60 yards and completed 8 of 14 passes for 92 yards. Senior fullback Kyle Eckel didn't participate in the scrimmage because of bruised ribs. Eckel said he expects to return to practice tomorrow.
"We're struggling on offense," Polanco said, "and time is running out."
Williams Impresses Bison
Howard has a plethora of running backs returning this season, but Daine Williams, who missed the past two seasons, has been the most productive runner in training camp.
In the Bison's first scrimmage, Williams ran nine times for 72 yards. The sophomore from Beaver Falls, Pa. (Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath's home town), was redshirted in 2002 and was academically ineligible last season.
Hoyas Undecided on Quarterback
Georgetown Coach Bob Benson said he'll delay naming a starting quarterback after sophomore Keith Allan was unable to participate in yesterday's scrimmage because of a hip injury.
Allan was ahead of incumbent Andrew Crawford and Nick Cangelosi, a transfer from North Carolina. Crawford and Cangelosi handled about 40 of the Hoyas' 82 plays in the scrimmage.
"We'll delay it," Benson said. "We'll see where we are health-wise on Monday and get a plan in place by midweek."
The Hoyas will open the season on Sept. 4, when they host St. Francis (Pa.).
Bulldogs Happy With Redman
First-year Bowie State coach Mike Lynn said he has been impressed by freshman running back Isaac Redman, who broke several high school rushing records and was a state champion wrestler in New Jersey.
Redman, from Paulsboro, N.J., signed with Temple after high school, but was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in a car outside a party in April 2003. The criminal charges were later downgraded, and Redman pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. He was sentenced to three years' probation on July 13.
Redman didn't play at Temple last season because he didn't qualify academically, and the school chose not to offer him a scholarship this year.
Cardinals Are Starting Over
Coach Tom Clark, back at Catholic after coaching William & Mary's defense the past three seasons, completely overhauled his team's roster. Clark said there are 53 new players at Catholic, including 47 freshmen, and only 28 returning players.
"The three years I was gone, [the previous coaching staff] only recruited a total of 55 players," Clark said. "You'd have to ask those guys. I'm not sure what happened."
Two players who aren't back on the team are senior linebacker Bobby Stutz and senior wide receiver Nick Bublavi, the Cardinals' only all-Old Dominion Athletic Conference selections in 2003. Clark said Stutz, who led the team with 70 tackles, and Bublavi, who had a team-high 68 catches and 1,519 all-purpose yards, won't play because of disciplinary problems.