Grizzard OK to play, but may not start


ANNAPOLIS -- Navy quarterback Alton Grizzard was cleared to play in Saturday's game against Akron, but coach George Chaump said he doesn't know how much Grizzard will play, or whether he even will start.

Chaump said yesterday he is not sure whether Grizzard -- who holds the school record for total offense -- or Gary McIntosh will start, as Navy (2-3) tries to even its record in its first meeting against the Zips (3-2-1).

Grizzard, who started the first four games, missed last week's 24-7 loss at Air Force after he suffered a bruised lung the previous week. He practiced yesterday for the first time in over a week, and definitely will see action Saturday.

But McIntosh, who shook off a slow beginning in his first start in over a year to throw for 210 yards, apparently has been impressive in practice and could start.

"I'm going to let them throw [in practice] and see what happens," Chaump said. "I have not quite decided. I might play one of them for one quarter and the other for another quarter. I might let them both play and see what happens.

"I'm in a quandary, because I haven't seen Grizzard do anything in a while," Chaump said. "McIntosh is getting better and better. "Being in for the first time [against Air Force] was no easy thing for him with the new system."

Chaump is looking for the right combination to help Navy break its two-game losing streak. Navy turned over the ball four times against the Falcons, giving the Midshipmen 10 turnovers in their last two games.

"One thing I'm really sick of is turnovers," Chaump said. "You can't win if you don't have the ball."

All 10 turnovers in the two games have come from the Navy TC quarterbacks. McIntosh was intercepted three times and lost a fumble against the Falcons, and Grizzard was intercepted five times and lost a fumble in a 28-17 loss to Boston College the previous week.

In its new passing set, the Navy offensive line has had difficulty protecting the quarterback. Grizzard and McIntosh have combined to complete 74 of 162 passes for 912 yards and five touchdowns, but they have been intercepted 13 times.

The most important thing about throwing the ball is protection, and, if the quarterback has time, he does pretty well," Chaump said. "Both [Grizzard and McIntosh] seem to have to run for their lives a little. We have to have stronger protection schemes."

Chaump said he is noticing improvement on defense, as Navy limited Air Force to 250 yards in total offense, the best effort since it allowed 244 in the season-opening victory over Richmond. Middle guard Andy Kirkland led the way with 16 tackles (12 unassisted) on his way to being named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division I-A Defensive Player of the Week. Outside linebacker Byron Ogden, making his first start this season, had 12 tackles (11 unassisted).

"Our defense played well enough against Air Force to win," Chaump said. "[Kirkland] is the big reason why the defense is doing so well against the run. And Ogden is a solid football player."

Akron, coached by former Notre Dame coach Gerry Faust, has lost two straight after it started the year 3-0-1. The Zips are playing in their fourth Division I-A season.

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