On Monday we looked at something of a worst case scenario of Army football in 2016. The Black Knights were 2-10 last year and should be considerably better than that this season, but we focused on how Army could struggle if five different concepts came to pass. Today we are going to go in the other direction and focus on five reasons why Army football could succeed in 2016. If a number of these ideas pan out, then Army won’t just be better this fall, the team will actually be a threat in most games it plays.
The experience from last year was huge
Every time you turned on an Army game last fall there seemed to be another underclassman playing valuable minutes. Sometimes this was due to injuries to players higher on the depth chart, but most of the time it seemed like Jeff Monken has almost written off the season (especially late in the year) in order to start a slow build toward the 2016 campaign. Monken is hoping that all those minutes on the field, plus time in the weight room and studying film, will translate into big leaps in improvement for the majority of his young players. Army graduated just six or so starters, so if the youth pays off then Army are in a great position.
Chris Carter becomes the man
The quarterback position was a real issue at times last season for the Black Knights. A.J. Schurr couldn’t stay healthy, Ahmad Bradshaw couldn’t take advantage and Army ended up starting a freshman at the position for the final two games of the year. If the Black Knights are to be successful this fall then one of the three quarterbacks active this spring will have to grab the brass ring so to speak. The player with the most upside here is soon to be sophomore Chris Carter. Carter has an arm and passing accuracy that will allow Monken to tweak his offense and stretch teams for the first time in years.
Josh Jenkins will be back
New recruits coming into the program are all well and good, but Army will have a tried and tested playmaker back in the fold this fall. Cornerback Josh Jenkins was the Black Knights best defensive player as a sophomore two years ago, but he missed the entire 2015 season with a head injury. Jenkins was a two-year starter at that point and big things were expected before he suffered what can often be a career ending injury. Jenkins though has battled back and though he is being held out of contact this spring he should be back in full force this fall.
The luck has to change
Army was all-time unlucky last season. Game after game would go by with the Black Knights finding yet another new and unique way to fail to close out the victory. There were late turnovers, late field goals and last defensive breakdowns that were a combination of luck and the failings of a young team to push over the line when it mattered. Odds are the luck cannot be that bad again and that Army will be better than 2-10 just by the ball bouncing in a positive direction once or twice over the course of the season.
Monken isn’t afraid to try new things
Some coaches get stuck in their ways and their teams can suffer because of it. That is not the case with Monken who is continually on the lookout for ways he can improve the Black Knights on the field. One example of this will be on show in the spring as Monken switches freshmen Andy Davidson from linebacker to fullback. The Army fullbacks were as bad as they have been in years last fall, failing to bring the hammer in the position that sets the tone for the triple option to be effective. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder rushed for over 2,000 and 26 touchdowns as a senior in high school and Monken is looking for that production to carry over to the college game.