Head-to-Head: Stony Brook at Army

The Army Black Knights lost their seventh consecutive game 49-37 at Wake Forest. Despite amassing 506 yards of offense the Black Knights could not overcome its porous defense. Stony Brook enters the game ranked 18th in the current FCS poll. The Seawolves, who went 9-4 last year, have claimed the Big South Championship the last three seasons.

The Army Black Knights lost their seventh consecutive game 49-37 at Wake Forest. Despite amassing 506 yards of offense the Black Knights could not overcome its porous defense. Stony Brook enters the game ranked 18th in the current FCS poll. The Seawolves, who went 9-4 last year, have claimed the Big South Championship the last three seasons.

Army's rushing offense
vs.
Stony Brook's rushing defense
Edge: Army

The Black Knights, who lead the nation in rushing, ran for 429 yards, averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns against the Demon Deacons last week. Raymond Maples earned FBS Independent Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance at Wake Forest. Maples ran for 140 yards on just 15 carries and had a touchdown reception. Maples was limited in practice early this week but should be ready for Stony Brook. Quarterback Trent Steelman had his best all-around game last week. Steelman ran 22 times for 82 yards and scored three touchdowns. Larry Dixon (21 carries for 112 yards, 1 TD) moved the pile all game long. He scored his touchdown on Army's second possession finishing the drive by running through three tackles to score on a 12-yard run. The question may be who will make it to the starting gate on Saturday. Four offensive linemen suffered injuries against the Demon Deacons. Trent Steelman had to leave the game with a painful rib injury. In his absence A.J. Schurr has taken most of the snaps so far in practice over erstwhile backup Angel Santiago who didn't play well last week.

Stony Brook's defensive line plays a 4-3 defense and is led by co-captain Jonathan Coats. Last year the redshirt junior season, started every game and posted 27 tackles. The strength of the Seawolves' defense is in their linebacker position. This group is led by Jawara Dudley who earned first team All- Big South honors. He finished with 71 tackles, including a team-high 4.5 sacks. Dudley has started 23 straight games and is one of the best linebackers in the Big South conference. The Rover linebacker is manned by Dan Mulrooney, a transfer from Boston College, led the team in tackles (75) and fumble re¬coveries (3) and tied for first in forced fumbles (2) last year. This year Mulroony has recorded 16 tackles.

Army's passing offense
vs.
Stony Brook's pass defense
Edge: Stony Brook

Last week quarterback Trent Steelman had his best passing day in a long time. Steelman completed 3 of 4 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. On The Opening drive Trent hit Chevaughn Lawrence in stride for 45 yards that set up a touchdown. On the final drive of the first half Steelman threw an incomplete pass to Lawrence which just missed. Lawrence may have lost the ball looking back directly in the sun. Steelman's final two throws were during a third quarter drive. He threw a nice 19-yard pass down left sideline to Malcolm Brown. On third-and-12, Trent hit Maples on a wheel route with a clutch throw for a touchdown. Maples made a one hand catch for the 13 yard touchdown completion. If Trent's ribs stop him from playing freshman A.J. Schurr, based on practice reps, will likely get the nod. Watching Schurr throw last year at the prep school he has an average arm for an option quarterback but he throws the ball very well on the move. In general he has a nice touch on his passes but did miss some throws last year as he adapted to being an option quarterback.

This year the Seawolves secondary has allowed just 166 passing yards a game. With Army's struggles at cornerback this season it will be easy to look across the field and wonder what could have been. Davonte Anderson was recruited by Rich Ellerson after he was hired and attended the United States Military Academy Prep School. He was the most impressive cornerback at the USMAPS in 2009. Anderson, a junior, is a smooth, agile cover corner who can turn and run. He has intercepted two passes this year and has defensed ten passes. During his career Anderson has picked off eight passes. Strong safety Cedric Moore is physical and has made 25 tackles. Jawara Dudley and defensive end Leston Simpson are tied for the team lead with two sacks each.

Stony Brook's rushing offense
vs.
Army rushing defense
Edge: Stony Brook

Stony Brook rushed for 3,475 yards last year while averaging more than 267 yards per game. That total was fourth in the FCS behind Wofford, Georgia Southern and the Citadel who all run option offenses. Senior Miguel Maysonet was named the 2011 Big South Player of the year after he rushed for 1,633 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Maysonet is a potential candidate for the Walter Payton Award, given to the Most Outstanding Player in FCS, rushed for more than 100 yards in eight games last season. Last week Maysonet ran for 198 yards and a touchdown. Maysonet proved he was the real deal a few weeks ago when he ran for 158 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown, against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Maysone has run for 580 yards and a team-high six touchdowns on just 71 carries (8.2 Avg.) in 2012. To make matter worse for Army, the Seawolves landed a former four-star recruit, Marcus Coker, who is a transfer from Iowa. Coker rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns with the Hawkeyes. Coker, in the Insight Bowl against No. 12 Missouri, rushed for 219 yards on 33 carries and scored two touchdowns earning Offensive MVP honors. This year Coker has 283 rushing yards and five touchdowns. The Seawolves' physical offensive line averages 305 pounds across its front. This is a high powered offense that averages 43.8 points per game and has produced 17 rushing touchdowns in four games.

Army run defense has been pathetic. Last week two starters on the defensive line made no tackles. Jarrett Mackey's return to quick end was a dud and he provided no tackles. Defensive tackle Bobby Kough was also shutout. It's no surprise that the Black Knights are ranked 110th in the nation against the run. Geoff Bacon (29 tackles), the Mike linebacker, often has to fight off blocks or run around linemen at the second level that are in his face or on his legs much too easily. Brandon Fusilier Jeffires made 15 tackles in his first start and was often the last line of defense. Army has to start to play better run defense this week or the Seawolves will run them out of their own building.

Stony Brook's passing offense
vs.
Army's passing defense
Edge: Even

Stony Brook's senior quarterback Kyle Essington has struggled so far in 2012. He has completed 28-of-60 (46.7%) for 595 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Last year he came off the bench to lead the team to a 9-1 record in 2011. He threw for more than 1,800 yards with 20 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions. Essington has already thrown four interceptions this year. Essington does have a number of talented targets. Wide receiver Kevin Norrell has been the Seawolves big play threat averaging 31.2 yards on his 12 receptions. Norrell has scored three touchdowns. Jordan Gush has been hurt by Essington's struggles. Gush, who's started the last four years, recorded 41 receptions and 541 receiving yards last year. He entered this year with 15 career touchdowns but so far in 2012 has just six receptions and has scored only one touchdown.

Army's pass defense benefited from the addition of plebes Fusiler-Jeffires and Chris Carnegie last week in coverage. There were a number of rookie mistakes but Army had better speed in coverage Plebe Cornerback Chris Carnegie made his first career start. Carnegie (3 tackles) looked to have made an interception but was overruled by the replay official that he dropped the ball before he hit the ground. It was costly mistake as Waverly Washington, starting at cornerback in the place of an injured Josh Jackson, was beat on a seven yard fade route for a touchdown. Jackson should be back this week. A secondary of Jackson, Carnegie, Fusiler-Jeffires and Pierce should help the Black Knights avoid disastrous games like the one against Northern Illinois. Army needs to start creating more consistent pressure up front to help the secondary.

Special Teams
Edge: Army

Stony Brook 's Wesley Skiffington handles both the placekicking and the punting. He has made all three of his field goal attempts this year. Skiffington is averaging 42.6 yards per punt and has nailed three punts over 50 yards. The Seawolves return teams had been mediocre until last week when Miguel Maysonet averaged 25 yards on four kickoff returns.

Army's kicking game missed its second point after attempt this season last week due to a bad snap from Andrew Ellerson. Holder A.J. Schurr did a fine job getting the ball down. Grochkowski hit the rest of his extra point attempts and made a 21-yard field goal before the half to give Army a halftime lead. Chris Bolt is averaging 40.8 yards on his punts this year. Stephen Fraser had kickoff returns of 37 and 33 yards and has seemed to have settled into the role as kick returner after a shaky debut opening day. Josh Jackson should be back to return punts. Eric Osteen blasted the ball oh his kickoffs posting an impressive five touch-backs on his six kickoffs last week. Army coverage teams have played well since the meltdown on opening day.

Coaching
Edge: Even

Rich Ellerson and his staff have worked overtime this week trying to get the Army defense to play better. It can't play worse. Army offensive coordinator Ian Shields has called terrific game on offense the last two weeks. I do give the staff some credit of not accepting the status quo and starting three plebes on defense. Brandon Fusilier Jeffires, Alex Meier and Chris Carnegie made some mistakes and have to adapt to the speed of the game at this level. The good news is they have the ability to improve despite the growing pains.

Stony Brook's head coach Chuck Priore was named the 2009 and 2011 Big South Coach of the Year. The Seawolves were honored with multiple All-America selections, including Brock Jackolski's distinction as the all-purpose player on AFCA FCS Coaches All-America team. The offense totaled 494 points in 13 games, ranking first in FCS in scoring average last year. Priore has guided Stony Brook to a 40-32 record and at least a share of the Big South Conference championship in each of the last three seasons. The Seawolves qualified for the NCAA FCS playoffs last season, defeating Albany in the first round before losing to top-ranked Sam Houston State by a touchdown. Priore started his head coaching career at Trinity where he led the program to three straight outright NESCAC championships and won his last 24 consecutive games.

Intangibles
Edge: Army
Army's defense has been over matched so far this year and its confidence is shaken. The offense played well against Wake Forest but was banged up during the game. Army is desperate for a win after having losing their last seven. For Stony Brook the Seawolves want to prove how good their football program has become. They should travel well from Long Island to Michie stadium.

PREDICTION: Army, 42-38. Stony Brook is an FCS team but far from a patsy. Stony Brook led Syracuse in the Carrier Dome at halftime this year. The Seawolves posted a 9-4 last season and have won the Big South Championship the last three years. This is an explosive offensive team that runs the ball very well. I think it's another offensive shootout that Army wins if Steelman can play. If A.J. Schurr starts in his place the Black Knights will move the ball but probably not as consistently and I think the Seawolves will upset Army. I have no confidence in the Black Knights ability to stop the run right now.

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