The Red produced an encouraging, yet futile performance against Army two weeks ago, dropping their winless streak this year to two games. Sitting at 0-2 after its bye week, the Red hopes to claim its first triumph of the ’04 campaign against “the league’s best team,” according to head coach Terry Cullen.
Cullen was referring to Navy, a team boasting a 70-point victory over Princeton and a convincing win over Army in the Pride-Bowl already this year. The Red will travel to Annapolis and battle Navy tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Making matters worse for the Red is its slew of injury problems, propelling younger athletes into new starting roles.
A key for the Red, according to Cullen, will be its success on the offensive attack, particularly throwing the football. There are some positives and negatives to note looking at the offense’s progression over the first three weeks of season play. On the plus side, junior Alec Macaulay, who played in the Army game after only practicing two days, really benefited from the bye week and is well rested and prepared to keep up with Navy.
“I’m very confident in Macaulay,” Cullen said. “He seems to be getting his timing back. The bye week really helped him.”
On the other hand, Macaulay will not have his usual targets on Saturday. Sophomore Eli Northrup, who leads the team in catches, with eight receptions, and receiving yards, posting 102 in two games, is lost for the season with a leg injury. Junior Michael Gaspar will also be out against Navy and probably next week as well due to a shoulder injury.
Filling in for them will be sophomore Nick LiVigne, who was the squad’s starting quarterback in its first game against Penn. LiVigne has a total of two catches for 12 yards. Junior transfer Jon Amoona, who sat out the Army game due to the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, had a pair of receptions for a total of 10 yards in the season opener. Senior Jon Falzone, who recently moved from his tailback spot to wide receiver, will attempt to shoulder some of the load as well.
“It’s going to be tough,” Amoona said. “But I have confidence we’re going to step up and play a strong game.”
Cullen noted that the key to winning at Navy, a place where the Red have not visited since 1999, and have never won in their history, is to keep up offensively and win a shootout. Through Navy’s first two contests, they have averaged 502 yards, dividing it almost equally between rushing and passing. However, Cullen is most scared of Navy’s passing prowess.
“They have one kid who caught 200-plus yards and had four touchdowns,” Cullen said. “We’re going to put [junior] LaRue Robinson on him man-to-man and see if we could stop him.”
The Red’s injury woes have hit the defensive side of the ball as well. Three of the four starting defensive linemen will be out Saturday. Juniors Nick English and Amos Smith, as well as senior Michael Schreck, will all be out of action this week. Cullen said he will rely on sophomores Gordon McLaughlin and Trevor Schwartz, as well as senior linemen Peter Burns, to be effective replacements.
“It will be an interesting test for some of our younger, inexperienced players to step in a huge game for us,” Cullen said. “I think we’ll be just fine.”
Archived article by Josh Fox
Sun Staff Writer