Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires replaced Ty Shrader at free safety after half time of the Northern Illinois game. He started nine of the last ten games, missing one game with a concussion. Fusilier-Jeffires finished second on the team with 88 tackles, picked off one pass and successfully defensed three others. Of all the plebes that started last season, Brandon looked the part of an FBS football player. He is the son of former Houston Oiler Pro bowl wide receiver Heywood Jeffires. Fusilier-Jeffires' physical play earned Phil Steel's Second team Freshman All-American honors as well as honorable mention on the All-Independent team. Fusilier-Jeffires, like most young players, made a number of mistakes as he tended to go for the knock out hit by tackling too high and at times forgot the fundamentals of squaring up and bending his knees which caused him to miss some tackles.
Strong safety Hayden Pierce (14 tackles, 1 pass defensed) suffered through an injury-riddled campaign as he appeared in only six games. He left the opener against San Diego State with a shoulder injury very early in the game. Pierce played in the second half against Northern Illinois in pain with the injured shoulder after the Black Knights secondary was abused in the first half. He started the next three games but broke his collarbone making a diving deflection against Boston College. He didn't play again until the last game against Navy. Pierce is a very alert and sure open field tackler with a smooth stride that gives him excellent range. He is the only SAM safety on the team who has the speed to cover receivers. The Black Knights really missed him against Eastern Michigan's tight ends. It's not surprising that Army allowed the fewest points to the opposition in two of the very few games Pierce started and played the entire way this year.
Justin Trimble opened the season as the starting Rover against San Diego State but lost the job after he was struggled against the run. Trimble saw time at Rover as he played in eleven games. After Hayden Pierce was injured he ended up starting four games at SAM safety. Trimble finished the year with 26 tackles, 2 interceptions and five passes broken up. He has the flexibility to be a SAM or Rover but has played Mike linebacker in 2011 and could probably play bandit linebacker. Trimble is similar to his brothers, who played at West Point, in that he knows the game and is field savvy. Trimble possesses, at best, only average speed so he can be a liability in pass coverage down the field. Against Northern Illinois and Rutgers he was beat deep for touchdowns by faster receivers.
Ty Shrader (17 tackles) opened his senior season as the starting free safety. Shrader, a senior, was a favorite of the coaches because he's such a smart player. Ty is the son of a high school coach and understands coverages. Shrader had seen playing time since he was a freshman and knew the system. The problem, as I had discussed in previous articles, was Shrader wasn't physically a starting FBS safety. He was too small and way too slow. As a starter his limitations were exposed quickly. He lacked the speed to play centerfield in this double eagle flex system. In the first two games, he often correctly ran to the ball on running plays or deep patterns offering help but lacked the speed to cut down the angle in time to make the tackle. He played in eight games. He was replaced at halftime against Northern Illinois and started only one game, against Boston College. The rest of the way he struggled in coverage against the Eagles and left the game with a leg injury. After missing a month he returned to play in a supporting role the last three games.
Senior Kyler Martin (6 tackles, 2 pass defensed) played in 11 games in a backup role at SAM safety after starting five games in 2011. Martin was bypassed after Josh Jackson returned from his groin injury and moved to SAM safety. Martin then dropped off the two deep depth chart. His best game was off the bench against Boston College where he made a nice play to break up a third down pass to force a punt. The next week against Kent State was beat by Eric Adeyemi for a 30-yard touchdown pass and played mostly on special teams the rest of the way.
Junior Lyle Beloney was a major disappointment this season. After a solid spring practice he entered the season as the backup at SAM safety to Pierce. Lyle entered the opening game after Pierce was injured very early in the first quarter against San Diego State. Beloney struggled in coverage, missed tackles and was slow to diagnose plays. He was benched for three games after that shaky performance. He returned against Boston College and played in five of the next six games. When used from scrimmage Beloney often was out of position in coverage. Physically he is one of the better athletes the team has at safety but because of his performances he was bypassed by other players and didn't appear in the last two games.
2012 Army Report Card: Safeties
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