Army Practice Notes: Week 3

The Army Black Knights continue their preparations for their 2010 opener at Eastern Michigan on September 4. Look inside to get all the highlights from Army's third week of practice.

One of the interesting sights at last week's scrimmage was the new look of the Double Eagle Flex.

Army was using only two down linemen. Mike Gann is one tackle. Like last year he plays straight up on the center like a nose tackle. Gann is responsible for both ‘A' gaps on each side of the center. Marcus Hilton at the strong side defensive tackle plays down in a three-point stance. Josh McNary at quick end lines up uncovered in a ghost seven technique outside. It's the same as last year. The new wrinkle is rather than a down three point stance tackle the Black Knights have added another lineman in an upright two point stance. Essentially Army is playing with two quick ends next to each other. Jarrett Mackey, who was Josh McNary's backup at quick end, now plays bandit tackle. Jarrett Mackey was very impressive in last week's scrimmage. In speaking to head Coach Rich Ellerson he said the bandit tackle is still a three technique position despite the stance.

A promising freshman to watch is safety Tyler Dickson. Dickson is a 6-foot-195 pound free safety from Lexington, Ohio. Tyler was originally recruited as a wide receiver but played safety last year at the United States Military Academy prep school. The former USMAPS defensive MVP has been seeing repetitions with the first team. With his 4.6 forty yard dash speed, acceleration and ball hawking ability I wouldn't be surprised to see Dickson emerge as the odds on favorite to replace star free safety Donovan Travis after he graduates.

George Jordan is a sophomore wide receiver who took repetitions in practice with the first team this past week. Jordan at 6-3, 216 is a talented athlete whose development was set back when he had to miss spring practice to focus on academics. Jordan had a very good week of practice. Jordan was originally recruited as a basketball player. He attended the United States Military Academy Prep school where he decided to concentrate on football instead.

Army spent this week focusing on special teams. Alex Carlton, Matt Campbell and Jonathan Bulls all continued to kick well this summer. It looks like sophomore Josh Jackson has unseated Josh Jones as punt returner. Jones has very reliable hands but only averaged 5.8 yards per return last year. Jackson is a lot faster and quicker than Jones.

Head coach Rich Ellerson confirmed to me that whip linebacker Andrew Rodriguez's back "is not good." Rodriguez tested his back for the first time all summer and practiced a few downs on Saturday. Nate Combs has been moved from bandit tackle to whip linebacker. Combs will probably start against Eastern Michigan.

Starting quarterback Trent Steelman hasn't practiced since Wednesday. Steelman had an arthroscope done on his knee this past June. He had some soreness in same knee and was held out for precautionary reasons. In his absence it looks like Max Jenkins solidified his hold as backup quarterback over senior Chip Bowden. Jenkins is the consummate game manager. He is not as talented as some other quarterbacks on the roster in terms of speed or throwing ability. His real strength is his complete grasp of the offense and his skill at reading and executing against his pitch keys.

Two direct admit freshman wide receivers should make the varsity traveling squad. We mentioned last week and in Surprises from Beast Barracks- Part I about how impressive Anthony Stephens looks. J.R. Woodward is a converted option quarterback and has also been noticed this summer. He is 6-4, 205 and has impressed the staff with his athleticism. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields system features many go and corner routes. He has always favored tall receivers.

Army's seniors did not participate in Friday's practice. They received their class rings in a ceremony at Trophy Point.

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