Back in Black

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I missed this pre-spring clip of Coach Monken talking about the spring session courtesy Army Athletics Youtube channel. It's a frank talk about what it takes in terms of dedication and ability and it's clear he's trying to develop both of those facets within the team.

There are some more practice notes from Army's early spring practice sessions. celebrates the crack of the pads with a good writeup on the first contact practice.

Sal Interdonato's latest spring ball notes gets into the players knocking off a little bit of rust after spring break.

Walker said he lifted twice last week while on spring break. He and about eight of his teammates worked out together while enjoying some fun in the sun.

“We went out together and ran a couple of miles each day and tried to stay active,” Walker said. “We knew how important it was to stay active and work out over the break especially after last year because we didn’t necessarily do that and we felt it on the first day that we came back. So this year, we definitely had to do that… On the beach, we were horsing around playing with a football. It was a little workout in itself. I guess that counts.”

On one side, it's the norm to kick back over spring break - for these kids it's not just the start of the season - they're getting into the home stretch of a killer academic year. I mean if even Urban Meyer was let down by Ohio State's first showing this spring - it kind of comes with the territory in terms of getting back into football shape.

One thing though - Ohio state are national champions - forget that Buckeye players have a different level of athletic ability than Army - the Black Knights have a lot to prove on the football field. Now let me be upfront that I know a lot more about what it takes to lounge poolside with cocktail service than I know about what it takes to play out a 13 game football season, but with the positive things we've heard about the offseason workouts being a step up from last year - I kind of expected there to be a plan in place from day 1 of spring ball. Anyway, I'm not going to lose sleep over it, it's a long time before the season kicks off.

Check Sal's piece for roster moves and a look at how the QB position is shaping up without A.J. Schurr in the mix.

Overall @SalInterdonato has the goods on these early sessions... pictures and video are all available in one place and for those who want an Army football fix - Sal's Twitter is the way to go.


Army's First 2015 Spring Practice

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Army football started back up Thursday in the non-contact portion of spring drills. It's a new era for Army football as the offense will feature a completely new corps of running backs.

One stat that stood out to @Salinterdonato was that Army graduated over 10,000 career yards rushing this year.

Appropriately, the natural place to look after a number like that is who's next... and Sal gives a look at new blood Joe Walker and a kid with a rather familiar last name: Joey Giovanelli

Here is someone's list of some of the better backfields in history, if these are the top 10 then I know not many teams have had to overcome 10,000 yards worth of graduation in a season.

Also in the backfield - assistant coach Tucker Waugh (@TuckerWaugh) is coaching Army's slotbacks. Coach Waugh is a longtime Army assistant coach who has changed roles from working with the wide receivers last year. 

Here's a little blurb preview on some Independent teams from the Orlando Sentinel. I know they will start up their team previews soon, and I hope to get back into the swing of posting things regularly. Incidentally I'm back on the east coast for the whole year, so I might actually get to attend a game and not just watch via satellite.

So it was helmets and shorts today - no contact. It's always sort of weird to start the spring football session with news about stretching and reporting to your position coach for drills, but then tack a spring break onto the beginning of spring workouts and it just has a funny feel to it.

(Jeff Monken ref. opening practice before spring break)
"When you are in season and it's a work week and this is for us, you have some more time to meet. We wanted to have a chance to get in the meeting room to help us prepare for practices. The guys deserve some time off. We have asked them to find a weight room next week and they will. They are coming off of a long stretch of offseason conditioning and deserve some time away."

 At least Spring ball is actually in the spring this year. It's as if the groundhog was right about 6 more weeks of winter.

No matter what it's the start of a new season and if you're an Army football fan then you're right to be excited for the new season.

You can find some photos of the first practice on @Salinterdonato.

Really looking forward to the season, but I'm going to remind all to take it day by day - we're a long way away from September.


Army 4-7

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Army knocked off an undersized but game Fordham team a few weeks ago moving their mark up to 4-7. It's nice to see that Army can win a game or 2 or 4 in this transition year, but the feeling that this was a letdown of a season keeps creeping up on me.

Yes, Army should have handled Yale - but Yale is no joke of a team. When UConn people got down on their own team for losing to Army - who lost to Yale. (YALE?!) It wasn't because they were disgusted about their own team. It's because they wanted to talk down to somebody. Well isn't it fun when a fan base like that gets their foot shoveled off? SMU smacked UConn in East Hartford for the Mustangs' first win of the year raising themselves out of the NCAA basement and kicking UConn down those same stairs. The cherry on top was UConn's basketball team losing a game at home to stinkin Yale.  (YALE?!)  I would give back UConn's loss to erase Army's loss, but at least Yale football is a good team. So I don't want to hear another peep out of sad and bitter UConn fans til they find acceptance within themselves that Connecticut athletics is closer to Vermont athletics than anything the AAC is doing, let alone the ACC.

So we're winding down year one of the Jeff Monken era. There have surely been disappointments - but change doesn't happen in one season. If Army went to New Haven and beat Yale we would have a different perspective on the season right now. The Black Knights would be playing for 6-6 and despite losing a lot of talent in 2015 we've found out a lot about the underclassmen on this team. No matter how you slice it, even with a losing record Army should feel optimistic about the near and long term future.

There will always be errors and some tightness in the first season, that's just how things work. Some of the poor play calls will be ironed out or wholly unnecessary in a couple of years. Right now, Army should be happy with their body of work. There's one more game for the seniors to show off; it's the most important game of our season and the most important game of their lives. Don't count them out: Army is DUE.

Anyway, Army is 4-7 - champion of New York City and face Navy next in the last game of the year.

Here's the Army Fordham story, stats, pictures and highlights.


Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Army 3-7

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sal touches on one of the artifacts of the regime change - the tricky dynamic between a new coaching staff and established personnel. It's one of those things that makes you scratch your head every time and ask "wow what happened to _____?" or "why isn't _____ seeing the football?"

You'll waste your breath at this point to worry about who's getting carries. When programs change coaches and change schemes it's simply going to take time to acclimate to the change in culture.
One is inclined to say oh, this guy should be hitting runs for career high numbers, but the first year is about teaching. Every once in a while a coach takes over and a team and maybe they return some stars and maybe the coaching change refreshes leadership within the team.

We've all seen both sides of the coin and it's particularly vexing when you guess the coaching change won't affect your team's upperclassmen in either leadership or performance, but it does for one reason or another. 

Here's the thing, and I'm happy to get out in front of this today before the Fordham game, Army by many reasonable speculations should have gone to the Poinsettia Bowl this year. Phil Steele had them bowl bound, I thought they should have gained at least 6 wins just judging by what I saw as a soft schedule. Then the setback at Yale, who is having a fine year of it themselves. 100 years of Yale Bowl? I wish the Elis could go to a bowl because they deserve the honor. They play Harvard in their finale for the Ivy League title and win or lose they'll be home for the holidays just like Army. Yale has been a buzz saw this year - incidentally so has Harvard, and 'The Game' has some high stakes this year.

Yale and Harvard have met 58 times since the Ivy League started handing out a championship trophy. This year's meeting at Boston is just the seventh time (since 1956) that the Bulldogs and Crimson each have Ivy title potential heading into the season finale. On a Saturday at Harvard Stadium when ESPN's College GameDay is on site for all the pomp and circumstance and NBC Sports Network airs live coverage, Yale (8-1, 5-1 Ivy) kicks off with No. 17 Harvard (9-0, 6-0) at 12:30.

So Yale is playing ball, but their head coach Tony Reno is only in his 3rd year. How did that team fare in Reno's first season as HC? 2-8, 1-6 Ivy finishing last place in their league. Two years later they're 8-1 playing for a league title. -Just something that distracted me while looking the season's story.

Upcoming is another one-loss team, another team that was probably overlooked as a win before the season started, and now ,well, you have to tune in to see who is the steward of New York football. Incidentally forget the throwback Thursday you've seen this week. 1962 Army/Syracuse in the last college football game in the Polo Grounds is flat-out as good as it gets for a classic video clip.
Fordham has revamped their program and completely restored their standing as a football power. The Rams simply finished 12-2 in the FCS last year and were a playoff team and a top 10 team at that level.
This year, Fordham is just as nasty. Their only loss is to a ranked Villanova team at Philly in the second week, they are already Patriot league champions and have qualified for the FCS playoffs.

Army's facing a tough team Saturday, if they show up and play like they own the place - play sound ball possession football, take care of the ball and take the game physically to Fordham they will be playing for a chance to win. If it's more of the same falling asleep at the wheel in the second half Fordham will have its fans thinking about a step up to FBS.

Oh, here's the Army WKU story, stats and highlights.


About Time

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'm convinced this team is trying to kill me.

Nice to finally get that Yankee Stadium win, nice to get that monkey off the back and put the other foot out front for this team and the new coaches. I called for a statement win, and Army definitely won, but statement win?... I don't think so. If anything, it made a statement that Army is still having trouble closing out games. You can't even argue with that. Be honest, you saw UConn get down to the doorstep at the end and in your mind you knew Army lost the game. It's been the case in the 3rd and 4th quarter all year and, really, the way Army/UConn unfolded it shouldn't have been any different.

If you play any team on Army's schedule and give them the ball on the 6 with a minute left and the game on the line there isn't much hope for the win. It's that sort of scenario that has become all too familiar for the Black Knights and fans as Army has had games where they've been competitive through 3 quarters but for whatever reason fall back late in the game and end the game pretty far back in the rear view mirror.

My optimism when Army handled UConn for the better part of 4 quarters was like riding the crest of a wave. I knew Army owned UConn play after offensive play. Offensively they were in tune chip, chip, chipping away. UConn had poor pursuit to the edge, focused too many guys on trying to stop the inside run, and every single time the ball got pitched - Army had even numbers or better and were ripping off big time runs. It's one thing to commit 2 guys over the center, it's another to commit 5 players central and still get run on both inside and outside plays. Longtime UConn blog Ramblings from the Runway phrased it like this:

 In each of the games against East Carolina and Central Florida, the Huskies' two best efforts of the season, UConn's opponents ran six plays on either 3rd and 4 or shorter and seven of at least 10 yards to go on third down. However, against Army the Black Knights ran 10 plays between 3rd and 1 and 3rd and 4 (converting 10 times) and just one time did Army have to run a play on 3rd or 10 or longer.

That isn't to highlight ECU & UCF as potential playoff teams, it is just showing that stopping teams has more often than not been a weakness for Connecticut.

I thought Army played Air Force on ABC last year, and I'm pretty sure Army played on CBS in 2011, but this leftover from the Air Force game surprised me:

 Network television visited Michie Stadium on Nov. 1 when CBS broadcast the Army vs. Air Force contest. It marked the first time CBS broadcast a game from West point, N.Y. and the first time Army was on a network since Nov. 9, 1996, an ABC regional contest.

One other broadcast related item involves Army's former OC Ian Shields' new team Lenoir-Rhyne... I've been checking for highlights but haven't seen much out there til this week... looks like Shields is still operating a beastly T formation option game.

This video is by far the best video of Shields' schemes with Lenoir-Rhyne, and it looks like they're keeping the stuff pretty simple as the plays shown don't have the layers and layers of misdirection that we've gotten to know from Ian. Nice to see he's keeping it real: Lenoir-Rhyne is 10-0 and plays 6-4 Catawba this weekend for home field in the D-III playoffs.

OK, back to reality Army/Western Kentucky game notes are up (.pdf)

Don't miss Danny Wild's photos of Army at Yankee Stadium

the UConn/Army story, stats and highlights here and here.


Veterans' Day

Monday, November 10, 2014



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