Wide Receivers: D
For Army's wide receivers playing in a triple option offense the key skill is the ability to block on the perimeter. If you looked at this simply from a blocking perspective this year's receivers did their main job. Option teams usually don't post large passing yards but they do well in terms of passing efficiency. As the Birddog blog site recently pointed out Air Force, Navy, and Georgia Tech are all ranked in the top 43 in passing efficiency. Army was ranked 120th in passing and 114th in passing efficiency. The Black Knights caught only three touchdown passes this season.
Army best receiver was sophomore Chevaughn Lawrence who led the team with 21 receptions for 357 yards. He averaged 17.0 yards per catch. Lawrence is a good athlete but is more of a 6-foot-3 possession receiver without the ability to make a lot of yards after the catch. Lawrence had trouble adjusting to the ball in the air this year. He has a tendency to hesitate when running his routes just as he turns to look for the ball. He dropped passes in each of his first three starts. Against Rutgers quarterback Trent Steelman rolled to his left and made a terrific throw to Lawrence who initially looked like he caught the ball for an apparent touchdown. However, Chevaughn dropped the ball when hit by Rutgers cornerback Marcus Cooper. Lawrence simply needs to become more consistent catching the ball. Give him credit for his willingness to improve his blocking over the last few years which helped him earn the starting job.
The other starting wide receiver Patrick Laird is more like a wide tackle. He's more of a hybrid tight end. The 6-3, 222 pound junior is physically the strongest wide receiver on the club and the best blocker. Laird caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Laird is slow and isn't able to outrun anyone but early in the year he demonstrated good hands. Laird's only touchdown was a six-yard one-handed catch against Kent State on a throw from A.J. Schurr that was so spectacular it earned ESPN play of the day honors. Laird's limitations were demonstrated during the final six games when he made only three catches and was shutout three times. He had a huge drop on a third-and-5 late in the third period against Navy when Steelman hit Laird in the chest with a pass that would have produced a first down and kept a drive alive. As long as he continues to block he'll see playing time.
Backup wide receiver Anthony Stephens continues to limit his playing time with his inconsistent play. Stephens won the starting job last season but lost it with his tendency to drop passes and miss blocks. Stephen demonstrated his upside late against Eastern Michigan when he caught two passes for 46 yards and a score. He then returned to form showing his hands are a liability early in the Temple game. Trent Steelman hit him in stride with a pass inside the 10-yard line against Temple that Stephens just dropped.
Ejay Tucker appeared in all twelve games. When he played from scrimmage he proved to be a solid blocker. Tucker has just average at best speed. His only catch came against Temple when backup quarterback AJ Schurr completed an 18-yard pass. Tucker held the ball despite being hammered by a defensive back on the play. Junior Scott Williams caught one pass for six yards. Williams has good hands and a quick first step but is small and lacks the speed to be an FBS receiver. He appeared in only two of the final six games.
2012 Army Report Card: Wide Receivers
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