Army On Offense:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Preview: Notre Dame vs Army
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