Questions on the Offense

David Copperfield would be proud. On Saturday, Army made a 6-foot-10 wide receiver disappear. This and some other head-scratching moves led to another dismal offensive performance and some questions in the wake of Army's shot to the gut 17-16 loss to Tulane, most likely deflating the Black Knights bowl balloon for another season.

The biggest question is the use of Ali Villanueva. In a much bally-hooed pre-season move, Villanueva was moved from his offensive line position to become the biggest target in college football. And he has shown that he has some talent for the position.

On the few occasions that Army quarterbacks have actually gotten the ball to him, he has shown a pair of soft hands and an ability to hang on to the ball after contact. But a bulk of the passes thrown to him have been fade passes or 'jump balls', which have become a liability because of the Cadet quarterbacks inability to throw the ball to where only he can catch it. It has caused interceptions in both the Iowa State and Tulane games, and has cost Army crucial points in both contests.

After the Tulane interception, no balls were thrown to him the rest of the game. Now to be fair, many times this past Saturday saw Villanueva lined up inside to assist run blocking, which is understandable given the offensive lines problems moving the pile.

But the question becomes this: Where will he be more effective? Villanueva is only going to play twelve games at wide receiver, so it says here to make him a much bigger part of the attack or move him back to the offensive line. There have been no crossing patterns tried and no wide receiver screens.

Coach Ellerson has said that Villanueva is open when he stands up. That is certainly true. So get the ball to him on the flat. If he only goes a step or two, that ought to be good for 6-7 yards. It would surely add a dimension that's not happening now.

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