Any football team with a 2-10 record can't claim to be well coached but there were some positives. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields did the best job on the staff as his offense ran for a school record 4,438 yards. Shields is very innovative in the looks he runs off the triple option. The wishbone backfield played to Army's strengths since they lacks a breakaway back and have no impact players at wide receiver. Shields uses multiple misdirection and counters to create space. His quick counter play off the option has been adopted by both Navy and Air Force. Shields and his running back coaches, Waugh and Thompson, need to stop the amount of fumbles this team has experienced over the last two years. This season Army's offense lost 19 fumbles, had 21 turnovers, and fumbled thirty times. While those are middle of the pack numbers for turnovers, the team can't sustain a consistently productive offense putting the ball on the ground. These defensive struggles also put pressure on the offense in some games where they almost had to score every turn.
Defensive co-coordinators Chris Smeland and Payam Saadat had a difficult year. Their defense allowed 35.3 points per game. It was Army's worst defensive showing since 2003. There were a few solid performances but the problem over the last two years has been the results of a lack of size up front and inexperience. Part of that has been inherited since virtually all the best defensive recruits from 2007-2009 left the prep schools or DOR before they made an impact. While that is a major part of it, Army was often guilty of having players out of position or not demonstrating the proper tackling form. The good news is that with eight freshmen and sophomores starting they can probably build off this miserable year. Often first year starters struggle with the speed of the game but improve with a year of experience and a chance to get stronger in the weight room.
Rich Ellerson's team has gone backwards the last two years with a 5-19 record. He inherited a bad hand on defense starting when the 2010 class graduated virtually all his impact defensive players. This team was probably going to struggle on defense the last two years no matter what, but there is no excuse for the breakdowns, mistakes, and poor execution that has plagued this team on both sides of the ball. With their ability to run the ball effectively this team should have won more than five games the past two years. Ellerson and this staff have recruited better talent since 2010. They are starting to see the field. I think they need to change their strength and conditioning program at least for the defensive tackles to add some size and muscle. You can't win with 247 pound defensive tackles. Richard Glover has actually lost nearly twenty pounds since he was the nose tackle at USMAPS in 2010. It may make him look better in his uniform but it makes it tougher for him to compete in the trenches every week.
I do believe the base is here for success. This team can build off this past year. This is not 2008 or 2003 when Army can't even play on the same level at the other service academies. This will be a critical spring practice and 2013 fall campaign for Rich Ellerson. He needs to win back some of the Army fans which are disillusioned with the major step back over the last two years from the bowl win in 2010.
2012 Army Report Card: Coaching
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