2012 Army Report Card: Defensive Tackles

The Army defense was the major culprit in the Black Knight's miserable 2-10 season. The defense allowed over 232 rushing yards on 5.5 yards per carry per game and 35 rushing touchdowns during the season. The Temple game in particular was a disaster.

Temple ran over the Black Knights rushing for 534 yards while averaging 9.4 yards a carry. The Owls scored nine rushing touchdowns! The inexperienced secondary wasn't much better allowing a 63.8 percent pass completion rate and 19 touchdown passes. The end results weren't pretty as Army allowed 424 points. It was their worst defensive showing since 2003.

Some question the defense's Double Eagle flex scheme but these coordinators have had great success in the past. Army ranked No. 16 in total defense in Rich Ellerson's first season (2009) and the following year (2010) they ended the year ranked 30th in total defense. Co-Defensive coordinator Payam Saadat said the issues of inexperienced players being out of position and displaying poor tackling technique has created "a domino effect across the board." The only positive is that the Black Knights will return eight starters on defense next year. Their young defense should benefit from the playing time they received. ArmySports.com will grade how each position fared during this past season.

Defensive Tackles: F
The overall performance of the defensive line was abysmal this fall. The defense allowed 35 rushing touchdowns and recorded only four sacks. The Double Eagle flex defense that Army runs is an aggressive defensive scheme designed to penetrate, cancel gaps and create pressure but except for a few games that rarely happened.

Army's defense has been victimized the last two years by the lack of impact upperclassmen up front. The top defensive line recruits from 2007-2010 all left the prep school or the program. While Army has recruited better under Ellerson since 2010, the lack of upperclassmen with size on the defensive side of the ball has been an issue. Army's recruiting isn't deep enough to absorb those kinds of hits. As a result this defensive staff has been trying to stop opponents with a defensive line that averages just 227 pounds. It's not just size, there is also lack of talent. Bobby Kough was the third best lineman at the prep school in 2009. Mike Ugenyi was the back-up nose tackle at USMAPS in 2010. Army's starting defensive line is comprised of second and third tier defensive line recruits. Not surprising, Army's small and not very talented defensive line was often dominated at the point of attack.

Last spring sophomore Bobby Kough won the starting defensive tackle job after sitting out last year. Kough started all twelve games. His play early in the season was a major concern as he was pushed around and recorded only three tackles in the first three games combined. Bobby's play improved as the season wore on and his pad level improved. It allowed him to split gaps and get up field more effectively. Kough ended the season with 42 tackles, was second best on the team with 9 ½ tackles for a loss, posted 1 ½ sacks and three quarterback hurries. Kough weighed just 239 pounds and had trouble in many games holding the point of attack. He was named to the honorable mention All-Independent team based on his play in the second half. Kough's improved play couldn't save this group from a failing grade.

Sophomore Richard Glover played in ten games at defensive tackle and started six of the last seven games. He missed the Rutgers game with an ankle injury. Glover made 27 tackles, 7 ½ for a loss, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries and recovered a fumble. Richard has some quickness, good leg drive off the snap and can at times get under and into an offensive lineman quickly. The problem for Glover was that he is barely six feet tall and weighed just 247 pounds. If he can't beat the opposing offensive lineman off the snap of the ball, he often has trouble getting off blocks. Glover's size, with his lack of height and shorter arms, put him at a disadvantage if bigger offensive linemen can get their hands on him and extend their arms. This season Glover was actually was about twenty pounds lighter than when he played at USMAPS in 2010. I have no idea why the strength and conditioning program is slimming down defensive tackles unless it's to help them get dates on the weekends.

Glover replaced fellow sophomore Mike Ugenyi in the starting lineup. Ugenyi played in eleven games, started six, including the first five games of the year. Mike is the younger brother of former Army defensive line standout Victor Ugenyi (2006-2009). While both members of the family were late bloomers, Victor was a lot more talented. Mike made just 13 tackles and recovered one fumble the entire year. Ugenyi has worked hard from his days being a back-up at USMAPS. He has added nearly sixty pounds since his senior year in high school. Ugenyi is technically one of the "bigger" defensive linemen but he doesn't possess core strength. He lacks ballast and strength in his lower body. Since he has a tendency to play with his pads too high it proved rather easy for bigger, stronger opposing linemen to turn and or seal him. Some of the biggest opponent running holes seen this year were often gaps that Ugenyi was supposed to cover but where he was simply knocked off the ball.

Among the reserve linemen that saw time, plebe Tala 'TJ" Atimalala looks to have the most upside. He played in nine games and started four out of position at defensive end during the middle of the year. He made seven tackles including two for a loss. Tala is a nose tackle who has a good first step and is quick off the snap. He is strong and uses his hands well to create leverage but need more experience. He should develop into a factor down the round inside as either a nose tackle or three-technique defensive tackle.

The staff likes the athleticism of direct admit sophomore Joe Drummond. Drummond played in ten games and made 11 tackles including half a sack. He missed time when he hurt his shoulder and saw less playing time in the second half. Drummond has added some weight since R-day and has the potential to fill out. Junior Kyle Maxwell appeared in eleven games. Standing 6-foot-5, Maxwell has long arms and moves pretty well. He could develop into more of a factor during his senior year in the rotation. Junior Clayton Keller moved from defensive end inside to tackle this summer. He appeared in five games this past year. He had a sack against Stony Brook and provided some pass rush pressure against Boston College. Keller was injured against Eastern Michigan and missed the rest of the season.

ArmySports.com Top Stories