Army rushing game a key in 2007

You can point at the head coach or the schedule and, sure, that has and will play a huge part in Army's success or failure. But you could raise Earl "Red" Blaik from his grave, put him on Army's sideline and without a good running back. Blaik unleashed the likes of Pete Dawkins and Doc Blanchard on opponents.

Jim Young had Mike Mayweather and just two years ago there was Carlton Jones and Scott Wesley. And until, among other things, Army gets a running game it will remain in the depths of college football.

Go ahead, take your shots at Army coach Stan Brock. But his life would be a lot easier with a running back. Make wisecracks about new offensive coordinator Tim Walsh. His job is easier with a stud running back.

Wince every time you see Carson Williams or David Pevoto drop back for a pass. But if there is a running game, their life is much easier. And that's what Army needs.

There is talk of Pat Mealy coming in from prep school this fall and making an impact. We wish him the best, but it's asking a lot for a freshman to pick up the slack at West Point. Sophomore Tony Moore is promising and fullback Mike Viti is tough as hell. Don't forget Wesley McMahand.

But Army ranked 70th in the nation last season in rushing yards per game (127.58). That's not even in the middle of the pack, mediocre for a service academy. Service academies need to control the clock with yard-eating, run driven drives.

Or they don't have a chance. Navy ranked first in the nation last season (327) yards on its way to a fourth consecutive Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and Air Force was third (303). That really puts Army's 127.58 yards per game in perspective.

The last glimmer of hope for Army came in 2005 when the Black Knights put together a four-game winning streak during a 4-7 season. It's no coincidence that Army had a solid running game. Carlton Jones put up his second straight 1,000-yard season and Scott Wesley came out of nowhere to put up 528 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns.

Jones and Wesley both graduated after that year, although former coach Bobby Ross tried to get Wesley another year of eligibility. Ross couldn't and Army's running game was often inconsistent last year.

The Black Knights better be able to get it together on the ground this fall.


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