Swezey reflects on Navy loss to Tulsa

Watching John Carney kick for the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football reminded me of Notre Dame's 18-17 win over Navy in 1984. Carney made a 44-yard field goal with 14 seconds left to clinch the victory. Problem was, the play should not have counted: The 25-second clock had expired.

"Though Carney's kick was perfect, all observers except the game officials agreed that the 25-second clock had run out before the ball was snapped." That was the verdict of...the following year's Notre Dame media guide.

(The late Tom Bates, the longtime Sports Information Director at Navy, told me once of his reaction to the no-call that day. As the game ended and the officials walked off the field, he ran up to them screamed over and over, "YOU HAVE NO GUTS! YOU HAVE NO GUTS!" And remember, Bates was a Notre Dame grad!!)

Perhaps it's instructive that Carney's long field goal that year was 48 yards. He had missed from 50 yards earlier against Navy.

This is germaine because Tulsa's tying 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter on Saturday came after the play clock had expired. Their kicker, Jarod Tracy, likely would have made a 34-yarder.

But then everyone would have thought that the Rice kicker, Brennan Landry, would have made an extra point against the Mids in 2004 to tie the game. He missed. Navy won, 14-13.

The officiating was as bad on Saturday as it was for the Northwestern game in 2002. That was the game where the Big 10 referees ruled a fumble on Eckel at the Wildcats 18 in the fourth quarter, when replays showed his knee was down. There also was a pass interference call on a 3rd-and-18 pass that had clearly been tipped at the line of scrimmage (thus contact is allowed downfield).

That also was the game where Navy stopped the Wildcats on a fourth down, the offense took the field, but then the referees remeasured the ball and gave the Wildcats a first down--and Northwestern scored a touchdown on the next play.

This column won't all be moaning about the referees.

I sort of like what David Moyes, the manager of Everton in the English Premier League, said after a linesman missed an obvious offsides that led to the tying goal and cost his team a win on Sunday.

"This year, I really am trying not to mention referees or linesmen," he said. "I make mistakes and players do the same — we make more than any one official over the course of a game — but if anyone can explain that to me [about the poor decision] . . .What do I do? Do I just stand back and say that's fine? I'm passionate about winning for Everton and my job is to make sure we do it. We got a bad decision there."

If it makes anyone feel better, Phil Steele, for my money the best college football handicapper/prognosticator in the biz, says Tulsa may go 11-1 this year.

Navy was not outcoached. The fullback option was wide open, except that the playside tackles and slot backs did not put their defenders to the ground with cut blocks, so that pretty much ruined the play.

Johnson clearly liked the call--deep in Tulsa territory late in the first half he ran a fullback option (i.e. the fullback is the pitch man) to the left side. Tulsa blew that up because the playside linemen didn't make their blocks.

The next play was a fullback option to the right. Those guys didn't make the block either.

Meantime, the stats' comparison from this year to the previous four: Navy's rushing yardage after four games, most recent totals first, is 1322; 999; 1121; 1128; 1154.

The passing yardage, however, is a problem. This year Navy has thrown for 178 yards. In previous years that number has been 603; 458; 558; 548.

I am interested to see what Navy does with its personnel this week. I believe the Mids have eight linemen who could be starters; after the poor performance on Saturday, I wonder if changes are coming there.

I also wonder about the QB. Hampton is tough and he is making better decisions on pitches. Navy is 3-1 after all; only Polanco has done better under Johnson after four games (4-0 in 2004). Is Navy better off with Kaipo or Bryant at QB, making what would be his first start on the road??

I tend to think the pass to Washington in the back of the end zone in overtime will earn Hampton the nod this weekend.

But Navy must connect on the big plays. The longest rush is 53 yards, from Matt Hall. The next-longest is 29 yards. Same with passing, the longest pass completion is 25 yards. The lack of big plays are killing Navy, since teams can put 8- and 9-men into the box to stop the run.

Talk again on Thursday or Friday about Yukon...erm, UConn.


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