Army eyes Rhode Island

This isn't Virginia Military Institute. Rhode Island is a much better Division I-AA team than VMI. In fact, VMI might have been one of the worst Division I-AA teams in the country last year. Army smoked VMI 62-7 last fall and then coach Bobby Ross went so deep into his bench you thought he was going to start pulling fans from the stands to play.

Army should beat Rhode Island handily, has to, the Black Knights WILL win or it could be 2003 all over again: 0-for-the-season. But Rhode Island has more weapons than VMI.

Remember Ari Confessor? No? Here's a refresher: He's the Holy Cross special teamer that returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, helping Division I-AA Holy Cross beat Army in 2002. It was the beginning of the end for former Army Todd Berry.

Rhode Island has its own dangerous returner, Raji El-Amin. El-Amin, a senior, had two interceptions in a loss to Fordham last week and averaged 28.7 yards on three kickoff returns. If El-Amin can get Rhode Island into good field position, that leaves it up to two capable running backs: Jimmy Hughes and Joe Casey. Hughes ran for 104 yards against Fordham and Casey added 84. Quarterback Derek Cassidy had 94 yards, but had trouble throwing the ball. If only Army had three running options. Did somebody say option? But seriously, Rhode Island has some talent.

This is there chance to beat a I-A team. While Rhode Island is better than VMI, it isn't good as the nationally-ranked UMass team that Army would have throttled if not for turnovers. It's opening-day at Michie Stadium Saturday, it doesn't get any better than that, and the Black Knights will shine. Just as long as they don't overlook Rhode Island.

A former Army player had a hand in Division I-AA Appalachian State's shocking win over Michigan last week.

Chase Laws played special teams for Appalachian State. Folks around West Point remember Laws as the guy who challenged Zac Dahman for the starting quarterback job during spring drills 2005.

Dahman had the inside track, but Laws' mobility and ability to run the option made him a fan favorite. Laws left the Academy after the spring semester 2005 and transferred to Appalachian State, near his hometown of Matthews, N.C. He moved from quarterback to linebacker last year, but isn't starting.

Laws has been on two NCAA Division I-AA national championship teams at Appy State.

Extra points: Army is ranked 131st in the latest Sagarin ratings, 21 Division I-AA teams are ranked ahead of the Black Knights. Rhode Island is 197th. Other notables - Navy (59) and Air Force (67) ... Former Army running back Tielor Robinson isn't having the impact at Duke he expected to have. Case in point: He ran for zero yards on one carry in a 45-14 loss to Connecticut last Saturday. Robinson rushed for 78 yards last season. Top Stories