#104 Army Football 2013 Preview

Army Black Knights

Overall Rank: #104
#4 Independent
Army 2013 Football Preview

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Army has a pretty experienced squad heading into 2013. But the story was the same last year and the Black Knights managed to win just two games. The graduation of four year starting quarterback Trent Steelman is a huge concern. Even though Army ranked last in the country in passing offense, Steelman did a great job running the triple option offense. Finding a leader under center who can control the offense like Steelman did will not be easy.

2012 Record: (2-10)
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Rich Ellerson (17-32 at Army, 77-73 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ian Shilds
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Guyader and Chris Smeland

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Raymond Maples, RB, 1,215 yards
Passing: A.J. Schurr, QB, 130 yards
Receiving: Chevaughn Lawrence, WR, 357 yards
Tackles: Geoff Bacon, S, 136
Sacks: Richard Glover, DT, 2.0
Interceptions: Justin Trimble, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: CB Chris Carnegie, S Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires, OT Michael Kime, LB Alex Meier, S Hayden Pierce, C Ryan Powis, G Stephen Shumaker

Key Losses: G Frank Allen, RB Malcolm Brown, LB Nate Combs, CB Josh Jackson, OT Ben Jebb, QB Trent Steelman, DE Zach Watts

Army does have plenty of potential on defense. Coordinators Andy Guyader and Chris Smeland return eight starters to a unit that did struggle quite a bit last season. However, there is hope the young secondary can grow up a bit this time around. Chris Carnegie will be the new leader at corner after starting as a freshman. Lamar Johnson-Harris started nine games in 2011 before being relegated to the scout team last season. If Marques Avery can stay healthy, the corners do have some experience and talent. However, getting beat deep was a problem in 2012 and everybody needs to step up and prove that they can play at this level. Safeties Geoffery Bacon and Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires, the team’s top two tacklers from last season, should be able to help out the pass defense now that they have another year of experience. The defensive front has more years under their belt than the secondary, but they are horribly undersized. There really is not any answer for that at the moment except for keeping Robert Kough, Joe Drummond, T.J. Atimalala and Richard Glover in the gym as much as possible.

Can Army’s offense function properly without Steele? Can anybody at least be a threat to throw the ball? Of course the triple option is built around the run game and Army will put up great numbers on the ground again this year. Running back Raymond Maples rushed for 1,215 in 2012 and eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his career. Now a senior, Coach Ellerson will rely heavily on his trusted back. Fullback Larry Dixon is the short yardage back, not to mention a solid blocker for Maples, and finished the 2012 campaign with 839 rushing yards and six trips to the end zone. The offensive line may end up being very young as Army finds a way to replace Frank Allen and Ben Jebb, but guard Stephen Shumaker and tackle Michael Kime are a good group to build around.

The Bottom Line:
The defense may have to win games for Army, but all eyes will be at quarterback. Sophomore A.J. Schurr actually led the team with two touchdown passes last year despite only attempting 18 passes. Steelman only attempted 90. Schurr came out of the spring atop the depth chart and could develop into a quality option quarterback who can throw a little better than Steelman. Having a better arm is nice and all, but running the offense is much more important. Angel Santiago who had a nice spring and Kelvin White, who missed part of the spring with an injury, are still in the mix as well. If Schurr effectively runs the offense and does indeed provide Army with a passing threat, the Black Knights could at least make things interesting as far as reaching a bowl game. Or at least they will get closer than they did in 2012.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 369.83 (1st in nation, 1st among independents)
Passing Offense: 66.42 (120, 4)
Total Offense: 436.25 (39, 1)
Scoring Offense: 24.25 (87, 4)
Rushing Defense: 232.33 (117, 4)
Pass Defense: 195.00 (22, 2)
Total Defense: 427.33 (85, 4)
Scoring Defense: 35.33 (103, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.67 (98, 4)
Sacks: 1.25 (106, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 0.92 (9, 1)


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