The Black Knights proved that last year, finishing 37th in the nation (346.6 yards) in total defense. Army finished 117th in 2004. This is a new season, but here's the thing: Army returns heavy hitters such as linebacker Barrett Scruggs, defensive end Cameron Craig and strong safety Caleb Campbell.
Army coach Bobby Ross expects the defense to be even better this fall. The unit might have to be due to the fact that Army's offense may take some time to go with a new quarterback and running back.
There is still one major question mark on the Army 'D'.
See question No. 2.
2. Can the defensive backs cut it?
The defensive back(s) position could be the most important for any defense. Even the slightest mistake leaves the defensive back burnt like toast.
You know what that means: Touchdown!
As experienced as Army is on 'D', the Black Knights enter 2006 with two inexperienced defensive backs: Darren Newson and Sean Grevious. Grevious, a senior, played in just six games last season due to a fractured tailbone and saw most action on special teams. Newson, a sophomore, saw action in 10 games at defensive back last year.
Newson could be a star in the making. But nobody knows the deal until an opponent tries going deep on him or Grevious. It could be a tough season on both.
But expect Grevious and Newson to get better and receive plenty of support from the nine other guys on the 'D'.
3. Can Army beat Navy this year?
The Black Knights better or Rabble is going to have a coronary. What has to hurt 'Rabs' and the rest of the Army faithful is how bad the Midshipmen have pounded on the Black Knights over the last four years.
Navy has beaten Army by a combined score of 176-54. Ouch! Army is expected to improve this year, but Navy, winner of two straight bowl games, is also expected to be better.
Army-Navy is a long way off. But for the diehards on this board it's never too early to think about the Classic.
Expect Army to come in as an underdog. Let's say seven points. So what Army will need to do to win is is, force a turnover, catch a break and play close to perfect. None of that has happened the last four years.
Army is due.
If the defense is as good as we think it will be and the offense develops, yes, Army can beat Navy.
But the question remains: Will the Black Knights pull it off?
4. What will be Army's toughest and easiest games this year?
The Fighting Irish lead the all-time series with Army 36-8-4. The Black Knights have lost 12 in a row to Notre Dame, their last win coming in 1958. P> Easiest?
Let's go with winnable. Ross would cringe if he heard easiest.
Sept. 30 versus Rice at Michie Stadium. Rice is one of the worst programs in college football.
Oct. 7 against Virginia Military Institute. VMI is a Division I-AA school.
5. Who are some players that might surprise Army fans this year?
There are plenty: Jonathan Connon, right tackle: Could be quietest kid on the team, at least, off the field. Connon, who is 6-foot-6, is punishing on the field. He shut down Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka, now a New York Giant, last year. Connon is solid.
Jordan Murray, free safety: Murray came out of nowhere to stake his claim to the starting job during spring drills. It helped that projected starter Randy Chasten went down with an injury. But Murray, a junior, impressed Ross and is the favorite to beat out Chasten for the job. Murray is a hard-hitter and Ross said after the spring that he and strong safety Caleb Campbell could be the best 1-2 safety combo in the nation.
Tim Frye, running back: Still a relative unknown, but will serve as Army's third down and short yardage back this year. That role helped make Scott Wesley a star last year. Anybody tough and willing to due the dirty work as a place in Ross' plans.
Frye, a sophomore, fits the bill.
Darren Newson, defensive back: Only a sophomore, Newson is confident and has great personality. He appears to be able to back it up and had a good season in 2005 as the nickel back. Newson's got a lot of learning to do. He's also got loads of potential.