Mids put focus on SMU, forget Vandy debacle


The opportunity for a rousing comeback is there for Navy's football team tomorrow as it plays host to Southern Methodist at 1:30 p.m.

That fumbling, sleep-walking comedy of errors committed by the Mids last week at Vanderbilt, which frustrated and embarrassed everyone, was not the true Navy team.

Coach George Chaump described the game as a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" and admonished everyone to "keep our mouths shut, grit our teeth and wait for another day."

"Another day" will arrive tomorrow and with the dedication and spirit displayed all week on the practice field, the Mustangs from Dallas will see a Navy team eager to improve on last week's performance.

But, what really happened last week in Nashville? Basically, the game was played against an academically oriented university, which is over its head as a member of the rugged Southeastern Conference. For instance, their final two games will be played against No. 8 Florida and No. 7 Tennessee.

Without the 10 turnovers, which included fumbling without being hit, five interceptions, three sacks and countless other errors, the Mids could have won.

If this sort of thing happened to a Top 25 team, the media would be heralding "distraction" as the cause, and holding inquiries on campus.

If one wants to identify real distractions, think of what the Navy football player must experience daily compared to that of his opponents who get their three or four hours of uninterrupted practice each day and live a casual campus existence.

A Navy football player faces constant daily pressure to keep up academically, must assume a correct personal posture at all times, take his assigned duty watches like everyone else at all times, be academically tutored and even tested on away trips at times especially during last week's exam week.

He lives with the feeling among classmates that football players receive favoritism, is continuously confined to the campus, is able to go home only once or twice an academic year, and so on.

Under these daily pressures, he must keep focused on the next game, constantly learning offensive and defensive strategies, new plays and competing to hold onto his position.

Is it any wonder then that with the significance placed on the Vanderbilt game, the hype over their super first-half effort against Notre Dame and the high expectations, that combined with the so-called daily distractions that something could break mentally for these 19-21-year-olds. It certainly appears that it did.

However, it should be emphatically stated that no one at Navy or elsewhere is considering the distractions as an alibi. Mids teams have experienced this daily routine through the years at the Academy.

As for Southern Methodist, after a brilliant comeback last year after the NCAA death penalty that almost wiped out football at the school, the Mustangs lost the seniors that had brought them back to respectability and coach Tom Rossley is rebuilding again.

They upset Texas Christian and tied Missouri and Houston early in the season but since have taken some good licks by Texas, Texas A & M, and Texas Tech. The Navy game closes out their season.

However, no team coming out of the Southwest can be taken lightly on any give day.

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