Four questions as opener approaches

With the season opener at Eastern Michigan rapidly approaching, questions loom for Army football. Look inside to see four questions that need to be answered before September 5th.

Who will be the quarterback? Head coach Rich Ellerson recently said that freshman quarterback Trent Steelman is the best-suited quarterback to run a triple option offense. However, he said that both Carson Williams and Chip Bowden could be rotated in certain situations. Bowden is the better runner and Williams is the team's best passer. Steelman has good running along with solid passing ability. It's hard to believe that the team will rotate three quarterbacks during games this season. Maybe the plan is to use Bowden in certain very obvious running situations and Williams in key passing situations. Then they might use Steelman in situations that both passing and running would be viable options. Maybe they'll use this type of rotation until Steelman gets a good grasp of the new offense and the speed of college ball.

Who are the slot backs? Ian Smith and Patrick Mealy are two of the top returnees, statistically and experience wise, however, newcomers are giving them a challenge. Track star Alfred McDaniel, who while in high school once rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries, has decided to return to football and has been playing like a seasoned veteran. He very well may be one of the starters come September 5. George Fletcher and Jamal Olatunde are also contending for playing time.

Is the Army offensive line too small? Looking at the post spring depth chart Army is averaging about 6-foot-3, 263 pounds per starter. By contrast, Eastern Michigan, Army's opening opponent, lists in their media guide four projected defensive line starters with an average size of 6-foot-3, 246 pounds, that's a 17 pounds difference in Army's favor! Ellerson said his goal was for a more lean and mean line but reports from preseason drills indicate that at times the line has had problems blocking Army defenders. This has some created disruption of Army offensive plays. However, maybe it's still early and after a couple more weeks of practice things will fall into place. At least for one game Army's offensive line will be bigger than the guys they are facing across the line of scrimmage.

Who will kick for Army? It seemed like junior Matthew Campbell would be a shoe in for the position after he made 8 of 12 field goals last season. However, after Thursday's practice Ellerson made clear that no one had control of the position. "The best thing you can have at any position is competition, and we have that at kicker," said Ellerson. That competition is sophomore Alex Carlton, who was an All-State kicker at Newark high school in Wilmington, Delaware. As a senior Carlton made 8 of 13 field goal attempts with a long of 47 yards. Look for Campbell to retain his starting job but somewhere down the road I bet we'll see Carlton kicking for Army.


Army secondary prospect Isaac Winters of Graham, Wash. plans to visit Army during the season. He says he has the paperwork to setup the visit and is trying to decide which weekend would be best. Incidentally, Winters, who's father is a Sergeant Major at Fort Lewis, will be transferring to nearby Graham-Kapowsin high school from his former school, Bethel. The new school will be Winter's fourth high school. He also attended two different high schools while his father was at the Sergeant Major's Academy in San Antonio, Texas. LINK lists Army's game at North Texas this season as a "landmine" game. However, it isn't made clear in the article which team the game is a landmine for. LINK is doing a series breaking down their upcoming opponents and making predictions. For Army, the article is very complimentary of head coach Rich Ellerson but predicts the Commodores to win big at West Point. LINK has their preseason 2009 college football rankings up. The service ranks Army 106th out of 120 FBS teams. That may not seem very good but on the bright side the service has Iowa State (110), Tulane (115), Eastern Michigan (112) and North Texas (120) all rated below Army. Other Army opponent's ratings include Rutgers (21), Vanderbilt (36), Ball State (45), Air Force (51), Navy (53), Duke (76), and Temple (78). Army's final ranking in the 2008 poll was 105th. LINK


"You need to be careful talking about the place kickers and kicking game. Those are two very different things. The kicking game is 11 guys and one of them is a kicker."

Army head coach Rich Ellerson, August 20, 2009 Top Stories