Lou Saban was once captured by NFL Films telling his Buffalo Bills in the locker room,"You can get it done. You can get it done. What's more you GOTTA get it done." Saban, who later in his career was the head coach at Army for a season, pretty much sums up the task before Rich Ellerson and his Black Knights over the next three games. Ellerson showed promise in 2010, his second season at West Point, when he led Army to their first winning season in fourteen years. Army has gone backwards the last two plus years as they have posted a miserable 7-23 record. The ugly 48-27 loss on the road last week to an ACC Boston College Eagle team looking for payback in Chestnut Hill can be forgiven. However, for Ellerson the next three games may determine his future. It's one thing to lose to No. 5 Stanford (5-0), Ball State (5-1) and top rushing team in the ACC in Boston College (3-2). The next three games for the Black Knights are against programs that are struggling even more than Army in Eastern Michigan (1-4), at Temple (0-5) and at Air Force (1-5).
Before Army fans start getting too excited just remember two of these teams crushed the Black Knights last year and the other has won 21 of the last 24 meetings. Eastern Michigan has won only three of their last 19 games. One was against Army last year where their usually anemic offense put up 48 points. Last week former Temple head coach Steve Adazzio's power running game, now at Boston College, reminded Army fans how his Temple teams have run over the Black Knights the last two seasons scoring 105 points. Army has beaten Air Force in Colorado Springs just once since 1979.
In addition, Rich Ellerson's team is right now physically beat up. His best offensive player Raymond Maples and his best defensive player Geoffrey Bacon are out with injuries. His first and second string quarterbacks both have injured ankles. The offense ground to a halt most of the second half against Boston College without quarterback Angel Santiago at the helm. At this point in Ellerson's tenure excuses are like noses in that everyone has one. The next three opponents are very beatable. EMU is ranked 114th in the nation in both points scored and points allowed. Temple has lost all five games this year. They can't score or run the ball. The Owls have lost to a one win Idaho team and FCS Fordham at home. Air Force has a good offense but is allowing almost 40 points a game on defense. Last year the Black Knights crushed them 41-21 at West Point. Army has pounded the ball on the ground against the Falcons the last two seasons and should have won at Colorado Springs in 2011.
It's that simple. Find a way to win three games against opponents with a 2-14 record is not too much to ask at this point. Ellerson to his credit has made some moves this past off season to shake up his team. He added some young coaching blood and a talented recruiter by hiring former Navy and Georgia Tech coach Todd Spencer. Long time college running back coach Wayne Moses has helped cure the fumblitis by the running backs that plagued this team the past two seasons. The offense has been productive under Ellerson. Army has scored 291 or more points three straight years. The last time that happened was 1988-1990 under Hall of Fame head coach Jim Young. Army rushed for 4,000 yards the last two years and set the school record last year.
Right now the Black Knights need to win some games to show the program is in the right hands. Ellerson is now coaching for a different athletic director and superintendent than the men who originally hired him. He needs to prove that he deserves to return for the final year of his contract. He can do that by having his team win the next three games.
It's make or break time for Rich Ellerson
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