Preview: Notre Dame vs Army

Notre Dame takes on Army in the final home game of the 2006 season.

#5 Notre Dame vs. Army
Fighting Irish   Black Knights
Saturday, November 18th
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN.
2:30 EST


Army On Offense:

Army Offense '06 Rank Per Game ND Defense '06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense #60 137.10 Rushing Defense #57 133.70
Pass Offense #112 135.80 Pass Defense #56 195.50
Pass Eff. Offense #115 96.15 Pass Eff. Defense #90 137.76
Total Offense #109 272.90 Total Defense #59 329.20
Scoring Offense #81 20.90 Scoring Defense #55 21.60

Bobby Ross is in his third year as the head coach at Army, and while the overall record of the team hasn't seen significant improvement, Ross has made the Black Knights a much more competitive team. Early in the season Army nearly upset Texas A&M (28-24) in College Station. The following week Army went back on the road and beat Baylor. There has been progress and given enough time Ross may be able to turn the corner.

Under Ross Army runs a conventional pro-style offense. He will mix in some option. Establishing the running game is a priority for Army, but they do average 24 passing attempts per game. Junior David Pevoto began the season as the starting quarterback, but he struggled with turnovers. Pevoto eventually gave way to freshman Carson Williams in eighth game of the season. Williams hasn't faired much better, but Ross does like his upside. 

The running backs are young, but there is a lot of potential. Sophomore Wesley McMahand and freshman Tony Moore split the carries. McMahand is small, but he has very good speed. Moore has started to come on as of late and may ultimately wrestle the starting job from McMahand.

Army generally doesn't have dynamic receivers, but junior Jeremy Trimble and senior Walter Hill can make plays. Trimble will likely hold most of the receiving records at Army before he graduates.

The offensive line is experienced. They do a very good job of protecting the quarterback (nine sacks allowed), but they have not been able to get the running game churning. 

Ultimately turnovers have killed the Black Knights. Through ten games, Army has 32 turnovers. Twenty of the turnovers have come on interceptions.

Anticipated Depth Chart.

  QB TD/INT Att-Comp-Yards 
  Carson Williams, Fr. 3/7 67-39-410
  David Pevoto, Jr. 5/13 180-99-936

Carson Williams (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) received scholarship offers from Arkansas, North Carolina State, and Vanderbilt, but he opted to play at West Point. Williams' upside is that he has a strong arm and a lot of confidence. The downside is obviously his lack of experience. Ross seems to feel Williams is the future of his program, so expect Ross to stick with him. 

David Pevoto (6-foot-5, 229 pounds) also has a solid arm, but he really struggled to keep the interceptions down. 


  RB Hgt/Wgt Rushes-Yards
  Wesley McMahand, So. 5-6, 171 133 - 592/ 4 TDs
  Tony Moore, Fr.  5-11, 223 88 - 351/ 5 TD
  Jamal Robinson, So.  5-8 178 16 - 50/  0 TDs

McMahand has big-play ability. He has very good speed, but he's limited due to his size. He only has three receptions on the year, so it doesn't appear that Army uses him in the passing game. McMahand averages 4.5 yards per carry. 

If McMahand is lightening, Moore is the thunder. McMahand has received the bulk of the carries this year, but Moore is starting to settle in and should see his rushing attempts increase. Moore will run over and through defenders before he attempts to evade them. Decent speed for his size. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. On the season he has eight receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. He averages 4.0 yards per carry.


  FB Hgt/Wgt Rushes-Yards
  Mike Viti, Jr.  5-10, 242 29-154/  1TDs
  Tim Frye, So.  5-11 225 8- 33/ 0 TD

Viti is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He's fairly athletic for his size, and a punishing blocker. He could probably play fullback anywhere. Army does throw him the ball. He has 11 receptions for 67 yards this season.

Frye is a little light, so I'm not sure Army can afford to bring him into the game. They will need Viti's size and power to make some holes for the tailbacks.

  WR Hgt/Wgt Stats
  Jeremy Trimble, Jr.  6-0, 214  44 rcpts/ 453 yards/ 2TDs
  Walter Hill, Sr.  5-11 190  27 rcpts/ 291 yards/ 1 TDs
  Mike Wright, So.  6-3, 201  7 rcpts/53 yards/ 0 TD
  Mike Castelli, Sr.  6-2, 190  2 rcpts/9 yards/ 0 TD

This unit is very solid and they will make plays if given a chance. Trimble is a guy that is capable of getting behind the defense. He has very good hands and he runs solid routes. Hill is more of the "move the chains" type of receiver. He catches everything in the area...tons of experience. Castelli is also a possession receiver. He has good size and sure hands.


  TE Hgt/Wgt Stats
  Tim Dunn, Sr.  6-4, 238  17 rcpts/ 216 yards/ 2TDs
  Justin Larson, Jr.  6-5, 236  4 rcpts/ 24 yards/ 1 TDs

The tight ends are good athletes. Dunn is more adept at blocking, while Larson is a solid pass catcher. Neither player is very big, so they will struggle moving Abiamiri or Frome off the ball. 


  Offensive Line Hgt/Wgt Experience
  LT Mike Lemming, So.  6-3, 270 5 Starts
  LG Dan Evans, 5th  6-3, 297 19 starts
  C Trey Miranne, Jr.  6-1, 272 10 Starts
  RG Pete Bier, 5th  6-4, 282 42 Starts
  RT Jonathan Connon, Sr.  6-6, 293 21 Starts

This group is fairly well seasoned. Brier, Evans and Connon all have extensive playing experience. Evans is a former defensive tackle that flipped to the offensive line after his third season. He made the transition so smoothly that he started almost immediately. Lemming needs to add a little size and strength, but for his age, he's doing very well. 

Left tackle Brandon Cox (6-foot-4, 292 pounds, So.) and left guard Matt Weisner (6-foot-3, 289 pounds, Sr.) could start in place of Lemming and Evans. If they don't start they will rotate into the line.

Army On Defense:

Army Defense '06 Rank Per Game ND Offense '06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense #111 190.20 Rushing Offense #87 114.00
Pass Defense #18 164.30 Pass Offense #8 279.30
Pass Eff. Defense #86 137.49 Pass Eff. Offense #11 153.28
Total Defense #78 354.50 Total Offense #23 393.30
Scoring Defense #91 26.80 Scoring Offense #16 32.40

Army runs a base "4-3" defense. The biggest issue for this unit is that they have been battling injuries throughout the season, especially up front. Army doesn't have a lot of big guys so depth is certainly a problem and the inability to stop the run has been a huge Achilles heel.

Army will be aided by the extra week off, which has allowed them to get healthy. Cameron Craig and Brandon Thompson are two of their best players on the defensive line and they have just recently returned to action. Up until this point of the season, the defensive line isn't making a lot of plays in the backfield and they struggle to get to the quarterback.

The strength of the defense is the linebackers. Cason Shrode is a rock solid middle linebacker. He isn't spectacular, but at 250 pounds he can fill a hole. The other two linebackers, Barrett Scruggs and Charlie Rockwood, are terrific athletes and the will chase plays all over the field. Scruggs is probably the top guy here.

The secondary isn't getting much help from the defensive line, but that could change with the return of Craig and Thompson. The big blow for this unit was losing strong safety Caleb Campbell for the season. Campbell was arguably the best player on the defense. The defensive backs won't be able to match up with Notre Dame, so they will need to keep everything in front of them.

Anticipated Depth Chart. 

  Defensive Line Hgt/Wgt Stats
  DE Cameron Craig , Sr. 6-4, 251 50 tackles/ 3.5 sacks
  DT Peter Harrington, Sr.  6-6, 255 19 tackles/ 0 sacks
  DT Tony Fusco, Jr.  6-1 308 39 tackles/ 1 sacks
  DE Brandon Thompson, Sr.  6-4, 251 13 tackles/ 0 sacks

If everyone is healthy this is a fairly solid group. The problem has been that almost everyone on the defensive line has missed some time. Cameron Craig is the big playmaker up front for Army, but he has been dinged up for portions of the season. Craig has 50 tackles, 15 of which went for a loss. He is also a guy that is capable of getting to the quarterback. Craig is a three-year starter. Army desperately needs him to be available against the Irish

Thompson injured his shoulder and he was held out of action for most of the season. He is now just getting back into the mix. John Wright (6-2, 255 pounds, Jr.) started while Thompson was on the mend. Notre Dame will likely see both players. 

With all the injuries, Fusco was really the only returning starter that was playing along the line. Fusco is a big, wide body that is difficult to move off the ball. He can get into the backfield, but he won't apply much pressure to Brady Quinn.  


  Linebackers Hgt/Wgt Stats
  SLB Charlie Rockwood, Jr.  6-4, 221 35 tackles/ 4.0 TFL
  MLB Cason Shrode, Sr.  6-3, 251 85 tackles/ 4.0 TFL
  WLB Barrett Scruggs, Sr.  6-1, 213 80 tackles/ 8.0 TFL

The linebacking corps is the strength of the defense, but unless the defensive front is successful in keeping the Irish linemen from getting clean shots on the backers, these guys will have a very long afternoon. Shrode has the prototypical middle linebacker size. He moves very well for his build and he has the instincts to be around the ball. Shrode is a two-year starter.

Scruggs is probably the best athlete among the linebackers. He's a little light, but he'll get to the ball. Like Shrode he is in his second year as a starter.

Rockwood is also a very good athlete with good speed. This is his first year as a starter.


  Defensive Backs Hgt/Wgt Stats
  CB John Laird, Jr.  5-11, 182 50 tackles/ 1 INT
  CB Sean Grevious, Sr.  5-11, 173 27 tackles/ 0 INT
  FS Jordan Murray, Jr.  6-1, 203 29 tackles/ 0 TFL
  SS Markenson Pierre, So.  6-0, 197 4 tackles/ 0 INT

This is unit really took a hit when starting safety Caleb Campbell was lost for the season. The group was already a little shaky, but now they've lost their best playmaker. Campbell was probably the best and most important player on defense. Pierre could start, but there are also other options. 

Laird is only making his fourth start of his career, although he has seen extensive action as the nickel cornerback. Grevious has played a lot of football, but this is his first season as the starter.

Dennis Cooper (6-0, 187 pounds, Jr.) has filled in at safety and could see action on Saturday. Top Stories