#98 Army Football 2012 Preview

Army Black Knights

2012 Overall Rank: #98
Army College Football 2012 Preview
Army Team Page


Army is an FBS independent, which means there is no easy week for the Black Knights at any point during the year.  They had two blowout wins in 2011, but then had to battle to stay in games for the other 10 contests.  Unfortunately, they lost a heartbreaker to Navy at the end of the season in a game that always means a lot to both sides.  The Black Knights had a solid quarterback-running back combo in Trent Steelman and Raymond Maples to help fuel the offense.  They need some guys on the other side of the ball to step up and create the same kind of excitement for the defensive unit.  Generally, Army has not had much success or notoriety stopping other teams.  They will hope to change that notion in 2012.

2011 Record: (3-9)
2011 Bowl: None
Coach: Rich Ellerson (12-13 at Army, 72-54 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ian Shields
Defensive Coordinator:  Payam Saadat/Chris Smeland

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Raymond Maples, RB, 1,078 yards
Passing: Trent Steelman, QB, 424 yards
Receiving: Malcolm Brown, SB, 163 yards
Tackles: Thomas Holloway, DB, 76
Sacks: Three tied at 3
Interceptions: Eight tied at 1

Other Key Returnees: DB Tyler Dickson, LB Geoffrey Bacon, RB Larry Dixon, FB Jared Hassin,

Key Losses: WR Davyd Brooks, K Alex Carlton


For a 3-9 team, it is hard to believe they had the top rushing attack in the entire country.  Maybe not when you realize they employ the triple-option offense like their service academy brethren.  They rushed for 346.5 yards per game last year.  Raymond Maples is the stud workhorse back that racked up over 1,000 yards on just 146 carries.  Trent Steelman returns to help add the athletic punch from the quarterback position.  He rushed for nearly 750 yards last year himself.  Perhaps as a product of this offense, the front five did not give up many sacks last season.  They averaged less than one sack per game.  The Black Knights are also solid at stopping the pass on the defensive side of the ball.  They were a top-5 team in that regard, only allowing 164 yards per game in 2011. 

Outside of the running game, Army was not proficient in any area on the field.  In fact, they were dreadful in a lot of areas.  While they were first in rushing, they were dead last in passing.  They mustered a measly 50 yards per game.  Much like the teams that tried to stop their rushing attack, Army had a tough time stopping their opponents on the ground.  They gave up nearly 200 yards on the ground per contest.  That contributed to their problem giving up points (over 28 per game).  Their special teams were also a big problem.  They were in the bottom quarter of the country in punt and kickoff returns and punting field position.  They would also like to get a bit more pressure on the quarterback.  They averaged 1.5 sacks per game.

The Bottom Line:
Army lives and dies by the triple-option, and it is certainly a fascinating offense.  It is quite hard to stop as evidenced by the amount of yards they racked up last season.  But the best teams are the ones that have a solid combination of both an air and ground game.  The Black Knights are not going to concentrate on bolstering their passing game anytime soon, but if they can find a way to throw for more yards this season then they can compete at a higher level.  Their defense needs to step up and find a way to stop people and keep them out of the end zone.  Independents tend to play pretty tough schedules, so Army has its work cut out for it.  It looks like they will have another tough season in 2012, but if they can find a way to beat Navy at the end of the year then it will all be worth it.

Projected Bowl: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 346.50 (1st in nation)
Passing Offense: 50.42 (120)
Total Offense: 396.92 (49)
Scoring Offense: 24.83 (76)
Rushing Defense: 194.92 (100)
Pass Defense: 164.33 (5)
Total Defense: 359.25 (43)
Scoring Defense: 28.25 (71)
Turnover Margin: -.75 (108)
Sacks: 1.50 (91)
Sacks Allowed: .92 (11)