Running BacksWhen it comes to running backs, the Cadets are loaded.
Sophomore Ardell Daniels (5-9, 193) was slotted as the No. 1 tailback at the start of spring practices, but by no means is he guaranteed the job for the season opener.
Junior C.J. Young (5-10, 201) and senior Josh Holden (6-1, 215) have the most game experience.
Holden, who split time between football and baseball in the spring, was the starter when the 2001 season started. He was the team's second-leading rusher with 515 yards and four touchdowns, despite playing only nine games. His 6.2-yard average per carry was tops for a regular back.
Young, who has good speed and quickness, led the team in rushing with 556 yards and in touchdowns with nine. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry. He got the majority of the carries in the middle of the season and started eight games.
After battling injuries early in the season, Daniels emerged as a big-play guy in the backfield. He was third on the team in rushing with 212 yards in seven games, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, and scored one touchdown. His rookie season ended with a 131-yard game against Navy.
Young also caught 19 passes for 104 yards. Holden had 15 catches for 120 yards and Daniels one catch for 12 yards.
Junior Marcellus Chapman (5-9, 193) missed the entire 2001 season with an injury after earning the starting job during the spring last year. Sophomore La'Berrick Williams (5-11, 188) was sidelined with injuries early in the season but finished strong.
It's going to be nice to have Chappy back in the mix, Berry said of Chapman. He came out of last spring as the starter and it will be interesting to get him back at full strength. La'Berrick is another talented young man that could figure into the picture. He missed most of last season with a foot injury but he returned to practice the week of the Navy game and was extremely impressive. We'll also bring in a few freshmen that will immediately upgrade our speed at the position this summer.
In the spring game, Chapman rushed for 43 yards on eight carries for the Black team. Young led the Gold with 18 yards on 10 carries. Young scored on an 11-yard run.
We've got a great stable of backs, Berry said after spring practices. I felt good about that going in. That doesn't mean we'll be a run-oriented offense, but in the same sense we can run the football.
Army ranked second in C-USA in rushing last season, averaging 164.7 yards per game. Young was ninth in rushing yards per game (57.2).
Blue Ribbon AnalysisDespite losing six starters on offense and five on defense, the Cadets should be as good or better than a year ago. Third-year coach Berry has his system in place and has improved the talent, adding more speed and athleticism.
Offensively, the biggest losses were at the skill positions. Three quarterbacks entered spring practice vying for the job vacated by Jenkins, and Silva may have emerged as the frontrunner after a good spring game. However, Silva will have competition for the job, and Berry likes it that way.
The running backs appear to be the strength of the offense, but that doesn't mean the Cadets will employ a grind-it-out attack. Not at all. Berry, whose 2001 team ranked second in Conference USA in rushing, wants to throw the ball better than last season when the Cadets ranked eighth in the league in passing.
There is some talent on the defensive line, but depth could be a problem. There isn't much game experience beyond the starters. The secondary should be vastly improved, and needs to be. Last season, the Cadets ranked ninth in C-USA in pass efficiency defense. They were only slightly better against the run and ranked eighth in total defense.
Linebacker Zickefoose, the team's leading tackler the last two seasons, is the biggest loss on defense, but Berry believes he has players who can fill that void.
Army opens the season with winnable games against Holy Cross and Rutgers before opening the C-USA season against league-favorite Louisville. That starts a three-game run against title contenders with Southern Miss and East Carolina looming after Louisville.
If the Cadets can maintain some confidence through that stretch, they should be a tough bunch. Army could be flirting with .500 as the 2002 season gets to its late stages.