Army 2010 Report Card- Offense

In their second season under head coach Rich Ellerson the Army Black Knights continued their resurgence as they posted their first winning season since 1996. The 16-14 bowl win over Southern Methodist University in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl was the first bowl win for the program in 25 years. ArmySports.com will grade how each position fared during this turnaround season.

Quarterbacks      B
 
Trent Steelman has started every game as quarterback in his two years at West Point. As a sophomore Steelman's physical maturation matched Trent's increased confidence and innate leadership qualities. Steelman is far from the biggest, fastest or most talented quarterback but he more than doubled his touchdown production both running and passing over his freshman season. Steelman ran 197 times for 721 yards and 11 touchdowns. Steelman showed terrific leg strength in breaking tackles. He did an excellent job in reading the option and his decision making was usually sound. Steelman is the main reason Army finished tied for seventh in the nation in turnover margin.

Trent did improve his passing during the 2010 season but it still needs work. Steelman completed 53.4 percent of his passes for 995 yards and seven touchdown with three interceptions.  Steelman's passing mechanics can betray him at times and is the area of his game that offers the most potential for improvement. He usually made excellent decisions to throw the ball away and showed good pocket awareness. However, he missed far too many open receivers this year. The fourth down pass he overthrew in the end zone against Rutgers to Brian Cobbs in the third quarter probably cost Army a victory.  Cobbs was wide open and all he had to do was put some air under the ball. Steelman missed Davyd Brooks in a similar spots behind the defense against Hawaii, Rutgers and Navy. Steelman has a decent arm for an option quarterback but he needs to improve his accuracy. I've seen some writers refer to Steelman as inconsistent. I view him more as steady. Steelman maximizes his abilities. He's an excellent game manager, leader, gutty and gives you everything he has. The problem we've seen in the second half of the season is he has some limitations athletically for an option quarterback which are more noticeable against the better competition the Black Knights faced later in the season. He doesn't have Dee Dowis like speed running the option or Ricky Dobbs's arm strength throwing the ball. To his credit he never backs down like he did after his devastating fumble at the goal line against Navy that was returned for a touchdown; he rallied Army in the second half.  Against SMU he made a big pass play to Brooks to seal the bowl win after struggling with his passing accuracy all game. Last year Steelman showed he was a gamer. This year he's proven he's a winner. Is he a great talent? No, but he is the best Army quarterback since Ronnie McAda and good enough to lead a winning program.

Backup quarterback Max Jenkins saw action in five games with the only meaningful time against Hawaii. Jenkins rushed 14 times for 55 yards and one touchdown. Jenkins has completed one of five passes for 20 yards. Max Jenkins did a good job replacing the injured Steelman against Hawaii until his fumble cost Army a chance at a potential game winning field goal. He had a formation issue and failed to communicate a check but for his first real playing time the staff was happy with his performance. Jenkins's main strength is his intelligence and complete understanding of the system.  
 
Fullbacks       A
The "B" back position experienced the greatest improvement in the quality of play over last season.  Jared Hassin impressed us on the scout team last year after sitting out the season following his transfer from Air Force. Hassin proved to be the real deal and lived up to the hype. He had 191 carries for 1,013 yards, averaging 5.3 yards a carry, and scored nine touchdowns. Hassin became only the second sophomore and just the 11th player overall to rush for over one thousand yards for Army in a season. The 6-3, 218 pound Hassin proved to be a bruiser with good speed.  Hassin battled with a sore back early in season that limited his effectiveness for a few weeks. He was consistently Army's best offensive threat. Hassin rushed for over 100 yards a school record tying four straight games where he averaged 7.4 yards a carry and scored four touchdowns. He was effective in the passing game showing good hands as a receiver with 12 receptions for 154 yards. Jared did exhibit some rust after not playing competitive football for two years. Hassin needs to do a better job protecting the ball as he's fumbled too many times including costly turnovers against Air Force and Navy that were turned into points. Hassin has missed a few blitz pickups most notably against Hawaii that cost Army a potential big play pass to Malcolm Brown. Senior backup fullback Jacob Bohn rushed 15 times for 75 yards averaging five yards a carry and scoring one touchdown in spot duty. His only career touchdown run was memorable. He ran over two Falcons defenders to score on his only carry against Air Force at Michie Stadium.

A and C backs     B
Malcolm Brown was the most impressive Army "C "back in the new Wing T offensive look unveiled this season. As primary "C" back Malcolm Brown has rushed 62 times for 343 yards in nine games. Brown averaged 5.5 yards a carry and scored four rushing touchdowns. Army missed Brown's quickness when he was out for three games after injuring his collarbone during the tragic collision with Rutger's Eric Legrand at the Meadowlands. Brown demonstrated his playmaking ability against Navy when he caught two touchdown passes. Brown, who struggled with his assignments at times as a plebe, has lived up to coach Ellerson's expectations as a sophomore. Rich Ellerson flatly declared in the preseason that "Malcolm Brown is one of our best football players." This year Brown proved it. The other "C" slotback to see significant playing time was converted defensive back Brian Cobbs who used his speed to rush for 302 yards, five touchdowns and a team high six yards a carry.  Team leader and starting "A" back Pat Mealy didn't run as effectively after he injured his knee early in year and missed two games. Mealy averaged 4.7 yards a carry rushing for 470 yards and two touchdowns. Ian Shields considered Mealy an exceptional blocker. Talented plebe Raymond Maples twisted his ankle on the first carry of his college career which has limited him at times. Despite the injury Maples averaged 4.4 yards a carry, scored a rushing touchdown and caught a 34-yard touchdown pass on a wheel route.  Maples ran well against Navy late in the year. Direct admit Jonathan Crucitti blocked extremely well when playing in the place of the injured Mealy. He had his best game against Duke when he ran nine times for 44 yards but didn't show a lot of magic with the ball rushing for just 87 yards on 29 carries. Crucitti's a good athlete whose future might lie at safety. Blocking on the perimeter by the A and C backs was vastly improved from the 2009 season.

Wide Receivers   C
Wide receiver Davyd Brooks, after a slow start, led the Black Knights with 15 receptions for 238 averaging 15.9 yards a reception and scored a touchdown. Brooks was inconsistent and often didn't play to the same level that he did in spring ball and preseason practice. Brooks failed to make a reception in four starts. In fairness to Brooks it didn't help that every time he was able to beat a defender deep, except for one instance against Kent State, Steelman overthrew him. Austin Barr led Army with three touchdown receptions. Barr is 6-4 and has the size that offensive coordinator Ian Shield likes in his receivers. Barr wasn't as effective in the second half of the season when the Black Knights faced better teams with faster cornerbacks. Sophomore George Jordan is a talented athlete who tied for team lead with 15 receptions. Jordan caught most of his routes underneath late in season as he posted 148 receiving yards with no touchdowns. Jordan had a key 16-yard reception that started the game winning drive in the opener against Eastern Michigan. He dropped what was one of Steelman best throws of the season against VMI on a 41-yard post pattern that was a sure touchdown. The truth is in an option system blocking by the wide receivers is more important than the number of catches. The 2010 receivers did a solid job blocking on the move and have really improved over last year. It is the reason why the new fly sweep play worked well. The receivers all return next year and most continue to improve. There were too many dropped passes this year. The staff needs to add some speed to this group. From the current roster plebe wide receiver Anthony Stephens may help. "C" back Brian Cobbs might also get a look outside this spring at receiver as the Black Knights look for a player to stretch the field.

Offensive Line   B
The four returning seniors on the offensive line center Zach Peterson, guard Seth Reed, right tackle Jason Johnson and left tackle Anzee Merzi  lifted their collective games in their second season in this offense. The emergence of physical sophomore Frank Allen improved left guard this year. For the  season Army averaged 256 yards rushing  and 26.6 points per game. They finished 10th in the nation in rushing. The Black Knights struggled running the ball their last three games against better competition. The line did a good job in pass protection for an option team until having some protection problems the last two games against Navy and SMU. For the season Army allowed the third fewest sacks in the nation.

Most Valuable Player on Offense- Fullback  Jared Hassin. The most talented offensive player and just the eleventh back in Army's history to rush for over one thousand yards in a season.

Best first year Offensive Starter not named Jared Hassin- Frank Allen. The physical sophomore guard  who played very well and upgraded the offensive line.

Best Plebe- "A" back  Raymond Maples hurt his ankle against Hawaii on his first collegiate carry and never seemed to regain his best burst. Despite that Maples played well and improved as the season progressed scoring two touchdowns and averaging 4.4 yards a carry. He should replace Pat Mealy as featured "A" back next fall and like in the case this year with Malcolm Brown and Trent Steelman expect to see a much better player after a year in the system and an offseason of strength and conditioning work.

Most Disappointing Offensive Play: With a little over a minute left in the half down 17-7 to Navy Trent Steelman's fumbled at the goal line going in just before the end of the half.  Steelman's costly fumble was snatched by Wyatt Middleton and returned 98 yards for a touchdown. It was a devastating 14 point swing as it gave Navy a 24-7 halftime lead. Close second was Max Jenkins fumble against Hawaii when he was just trying to center the ball for Army to attempt a game winning field goal. The fumble gave Hawaii the ball and two plays later they hit the game winning field goal to beat the Black Knights.

Best Offensive Play: Trent Steelman's clutch 22-yard waggle action pass to wide receiver Davyd Brooks on third-and-4 from their own 47-yard-line to seal the victory in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces bowl. If Army failed to get the first down and been forced to punt they would have given the ball back to SMU's dangerous passing attack just needing a field goal to win. That one play accomplished so much. It secured the first Army win over a team with a winning record in the Ellerson era, the first winning season since 1996 and the first bowl win since 1985.


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