Stan Brock last season was in a similar situation as Ellerson although he had more prior experience working with the Army players before installing the new Army option offense but little experience with that kind of offense. Ellerson, by contrast, has spent less time with the Black Knight players but has more time with the option offense.
If you remember back to last year's 35-7 loss to Temple it was three turnovers including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown along with a 98-yard kickoff return that doomed Army. Early in the season the Cadets looked in total disarray and although they did improve some by midseason it appeared that the Army coaches were using a learn-as-you-go coaching technique. If not for the sensational running of fullback Collin Mooney Army might not have won a game all year.
We'll learn a lot at Eastern Michigan. Will the special teams give up a huge return for a touchdown? I bet not. Will there be turnovers? Yes, probably but I think it won't be nearly as bad as Temple last year. In defense of Brock, Temple was probably a much more formidable opponent than EMU will be. However, Army will be playing Eastern Michigan on the road as opposed to hosting Temple.
Ellerson just seems to have a better plan than Brock ever did. Not to bash Brock, while he never panned out as a head coach he was a good assistant. Ellerson just seems to display and combination of competence and confidence that was lacking in the head coach before. Just listening to him as he explains his preseason practice plans gives me a warm and fuzzy that he's going to get the job done. In the Army you train like you fight. Football practice should be done in a similar manner. Ellerson says that the team will practice for a little over an hour and then go in for a cool down and rehydration period before returning to the field for another hour plus session. When you think about it, this is what teams usually do during football games. They play for a little over an hour. Maybe about an hour and 15 or 20 minutes and then they go in at halftime for 15 minutes before returning to the field for the second half. Ellerson has continued to make good calls since he put on the Army hat back in the winter.
Talk about a recruiting tool for the Army coaches! The Recordonline.com recently reported that Forbes had ranked West Point as the No. 1 college in America. The rankings were based on, "graduation rate, the number of national and global awards won by students and faculty, students' satisfaction with their instructors, average debt upon graduation, and postgraduate vocational success." We knew all the time that West Point was the best but it's good that the Air Force and Naval Academies can be reminded that despite their recent successes on the football field they are still playing second fiddle to the USMA. Navy, who was ranked way down at the 30th position, has a long way to go to catch up with the Point. Air Force at seventh has a far less of a trip.
Speaking of Navy, in a recent GoMids.com audio interview [LINK] Navy linebacker Ross Pospisil was given the simple task of naming one current Army football player. He said that all the players he knew of had graduated. You'd think by him being a linebacker that there would be at least one player that he could remember, for instance, maybe returning starting quarterback Chip Bowden. You think? Maybe he'll get a chance to get to know 6-foot-10, 280 pound, wide receiver Ali Villanueva in December.
One great player that Army might end up getting is Southlake, Texas (Carroll) linebacker Mitchell Osborne. Osborne has offers from Army, New Mexico State and Tulsa. Osborne recently visited Tulsa and met with that school's President. Mitchell's father, Donnie, said of the interaction between his son and the President, "he knew Mitchell had a offer from Army. He [the President] was very impressed with West Point." Another player that Army is also in the mix for is Southern California kicker Stephen Picchini. Picchini recently went on an east coast trip and visited several institutions including West Point, Navy, Georgetown and several Ivy League schools. With Picchini's dad, Ted, being a Navy grad you might think that Army does not have a shot. However, Navy is top heavy with kickers right now and might be reluctant to offer hence the visit to Army. Picchini already has offers from Air Force, Cornell and the University of San Diego.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"We're going to practice really hard."
Army head coach Rich Ellerson, August 3, 2009.
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