If you want to know how seriously the Navy football team is taking its traditional season-ending game with Army in Philadelphia on Saturday, check the way coach Charlie Weatherbie began his preparations for the Cadets.
The day before Thanksgiving, when the Midshipmen were dreaming of a three-day holiday, Weatherbie ordered a full-scale scrimmage at 4: 30 in the morning.
Said Weatherbie: "It was one of the better practices we've had all year. I thought I had their full attention. We got practice finished before classes started."
The players approved of the early-morning scrimmage.
"It served like a wake-up call for us," said senior guard J.D. Gainey. "We knew we didn't play well in our last game against SMU. The coaches have been challenging us to renew our team spirit. For Army, you have to raise your game to another level. It's like a bowl game for both teams."
You can expect Navy sophomore quarterback Brian Broadwater to test the Army secondary early and often. The Cadets rank 104th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 147.3 yards a game.
"Statistically, we're very close," said Navy wide-out Mark Mill. "But I think the main difference between these two teams is that we've got a better passer and receivers."
Actually, Navy's pass defense is even more charitable, ranking 110th and being burned for 163.8 yards a game. But Army senior quarterback Johnny Goff has completed only 42 percent of his passes and thrown only two touchdowns while being intercepted six times.
Welcome back Jason
Weatherbie was uncertain how much senior defensive tackle and co-captain Jason Snider will play Saturday after doctors said the bruised spleen that sidelined him for the SMU game had healed sufficiently.
"We'll have to see how he practices this week," the coach said.
But Snider's teammates said his mere presence in uniform will help motivate them.
"I've been with Jason for five years, counting Navy Prep School," said Mill. "He's one of my closest friends. But he's also the toughest football player I've ever been around. He plays every play like it's the last play of his career."
Everyone talks about the grand tradition and spectacle surrounding the Army-Navy game, but it also is the chief money-producer for both teams, who are each guaranteed more than $1 million.
Pub Date: 12/02/98