2013 Army Report Card: Defensive Backs

Army's 2013 football team the season 3-9 and ended the season with a record setting 12th straight loss to rival Navy. ArmySports.com will evaluate every Army team unit and assign a grade. Look inside to see the postseason report card for the Black Knight defensive backs.

Defensive backs: C
The Black Knights play improved in the secondary but it was inconsistent this year. The Black Knights ranked 21st in the nation allowing just 205 passing yards a game. Those numbers are misleading because of Army's poor run defense its opponents tended to advance the ball on the ground. Army finished 87th in the nation overall in completion percentage and allowed 19 passing touchdowns. Still it was an improvement over the disaster of 2012. The Double Eagle flex system was built around pressure and the Black Knights had only 16 sacks. The secondary did a solid job despite not getting much help up front.

Plebe Josh Jenkins was the best cornerback that Rich Ellerson recruited at West Point. Jenkins is very quick with excellent feet. He has the ability to redirect smoothly in coverage and a burst to make plays on the ball. In 2013 Jenkins made 34 tackles, two interceptions, eight passes defensed, had a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Jenkins hit a bit of a freshman wall the last month of the season. Still, he is a terrific athlete, a playmaker and matched up well athletically when on the field.

Sophomore Chris Carnegie had a rough patch the second half of the year. He made a few poor plays against Air Force, Western Kentucky and Hawaii. Overall he benefited from the growing pains he suffered while starting as a plebe last year. Carnegie has good speed, is smooth out of his back pedal and his coverage techniques improved. Carnegie's tackling did improve but he still needs to be more consistent wrapping up. Carnegie missed the opening game with an injury. He finished the season with 50 tackles, an interception and two pass defensed. Carnegie's coverage is generally solid but he doesn't make many plays on the ball.

Junior Geoffrey Bacon's move to free safety worked well until he was injured against Wake Forest. He struggled in his return against Air Force as he played with a cast on his arm. He returned to form against Western Kentucky the next game. He ultimately made 63 tackles and earned All-East honors. Bacon is Army's most athletic defender. They missed not having his speed in the lineup. His aggressive run support instincts does make him vulnerable to play action passes. Hayden Pierce (42 tackles, 2 passes defensed) started the first two games at boundary cornerback and did not play well. He was in a reserve role the next two weeks before replacing the injured Bacon at free safety. Free safety is where Pierce played at USMAPS and is probably his best position. He did not have a good season. Pierce needs to be more physical and active in run support.

SAM safety Shaquille Tolbert (56 tackles, INT, 4 PD, 2 FF) was the weak link in the secondary. He made a few plays but suffered major growing pains his first year as a starter. Tolbert was a willing hitter but lacked footwork, deep recovery speed and overall coverage skills. He struggled covering receivers in space when opposing team spread out the Black Knights defense. Brittle cornerback Marques Avery appeared in only four games and knocked down one pass. Avery cannot stay healthy. Senior Tyler Dickson replaced the injured Bacon against Wake Forest and took a poor shallow angle on a play and was easily outrun by Michael Campanaro for a 66-yard touchdown. Dickson was a liability in pass coverage his entire Black Knight career and was a major disappointment after being USMAPS defensive MVP in 2009.

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