FOOTBALL: Irish ready to sink Midshipmen
By MIKE CONNOLLY
The Irish are bigger than Navy. They are stronger and they are faster.
But that doesn't mean they will win.
"Athlet-ically we are going to be more talented than they are but they have a great scheme and they play hard," Irish linebacker Rocky Boiman said.
Although the Irish currently have a 37-game winning streak against the Midshipmen, the last two games in Notre Dame Stadium have been very close. In 1999, Jarious Jackson completed a pass to Jay Johnson with just 40 seconds remaining to win the game 28-24. The 1997 game was also close as the Midshipmen out-rushed the Irish 399 yards to 283 yards. But three Navy turnovers kept the Irish in the game as they went on to win 21-17.
Davie expects another tough game from the Midshipmen this weekend.
"It's a cliché but it doesn't matter what the records are, doesn't really matter what happened during the season, didn't matter what happened the season before or what happens in the first half," he said. "This game, because of who we are playing, is a game that every year is going to be a challenge."
Navy is famous for its rushing attack that relies heavily on a strong option quarterback. This year is no exception. Senior Brian Madden has run for 100 yards in 10 of his 11 career starts. Currently he stands 12th in the nation in rushing per game with 126.7.
"They have I think a really good quarterback," Davie said. "He's very strong, very competitive."
While Navy runs the same wishbone offense it has run in the past, there is a new coach at the helm. Rick Lantz replaced former coach Charlie Weatherbie on Oct. 28. Weatherbie had a 30-45 record at Navy but his team had lost seven straight games and 17 of their last 18 games before his dismissal. Lantz served as defensive coordinator before moving up to head coach.
Navy's defense, however, has been one of its greatest weaknesses, according to Davie.
"Defensively, they've struggled," Davie said. "They've struggled a little more against the passing game than they have the running game. I think they're going to force us to throw the football."
The Irish passing attack, however, will be limited by an injury to starting flanker David Givens. The senior will miss Saturday's game. In his place, Davie expects freshman Carlos Campbell to step up but also believes sophomores Lorenzo Crowford and Omar Jenkins will see playing time.
"I think Carlos Campbell is maybe at the head of that pool as far as guys that have an opportunity to step up," Davie said.
Senior tailback Tony Fisher will also miss the final home game of his Irish career. Junior Julius Jones will take most of the snaps at tailback with freshman Ryan Grant and senior Terrance Howard also getting some snaps.
All Sports Stories for Friday, November 16, 2001