COUNTDOWN 2008 - Army

Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp continues handicapping the 12 regular season games on the Aggies' schedule this year. Coming in at No. 11? The Black Knights of Army. Will they surprise the Aggies again like 2006? Or will it be all systems go for the Aggies?

Two years ago, the heavily favored Texas A&M football team traveled to San Antonio for a "road game" against Army. They left with the win, but barely, thanks to a fourth-down stop deep in their own territory to seal the win.

Don't expect that to happen again.

However, second-year head coach Stan Brock has talked a lot in the offseason about Army's "revamped" offense from a year ago, so if nothing else, that might provide a little suspense for the A&M coaching staff, but they'll have a chance to see three games on film before the rematch at Kyle Field on September 27. But Brock is excited to see his new project.

"I don't think that it's a secret that we've worked hard on our offensive scheme," he said. "There are going to be some things that are different in that area. I'm anxious to see how the players handle those changes. It's a big goal."

Army offense vs. A&M defense

The scheme isn't the only thing changing on offense. The Black Knights lost seven starters from a year ago, including four offensive linemen from a line that gave up 31 sacks, including at least one sack in every game.

This year, the Black Knights boast four seniors on their offensive line, but only one of which started last season. They have several juniors in the mix as well, giving them a deep, yet unproven line that Brock hopes will step up.

The Black Nights will have junior quarterback Carson Williams back after a decent sophomore season where he started the final 10 games of the year. He completed 151 of his 287 attempts for 1,781 yards and 11 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, but spent most of his time running for his life in the pocket.

He'll be without two of his top targets in wide receiver Jeremy Trimble, who finished his career as Army's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions, and tight end Justin Larson, who hauled in 21 catches for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tight end Mike Evans started five games at tight end last year as well though, and he'll be looked at to fill some of the production left behind by Larson.

The answer at wide receiver isn't so clear.

Your guess is as good as anyone's when it comes to the backfield for the Black Knights. Last year, they had five different running backs carry the ball at least 25 times last year, and most of them will be back, but will anyone stand out against a pretty solid A&M defensive line? Doubtful.


A&M Offense vs. Army Defense

The story isn't much better for Army on defense, where they've got just five of 11 returning starters back in 2008.

The defensive line may be the Black Knights' strongest position on either side of the ball, led by junior Ted Bentler, who led the defensive line with 42 tackles and 3.0 sacks in 2007. He'll je joined by juniors Mike Gann, Victor Ugenyi and Nick Emmons. Emmons led the team with 7.5 tackles for a loss last season, so he knows how to get into the backfield.

The linebacker corps is loaded with veterans as well, but again, a mix of players who haven't been the dominant force that Brock is looking for. Seniors Frank Scappaticci and John Plumstead will likely be joined by sophomore Josh McNary in the starting lineup, but again, there are plenty of questions surrounding the unit as a whole.

The biggest question mark for Army is their secondary. Once again, Stephen McGee and/or Jerrod Johnson will have an opportunity to put up big numbers against an entirely new starting rotation that will have played just three games together.



Two years ago, Army may have surprised the Aggies at the Alamodome, but this is not the same match up, and it's not the same Aggie mentality. A&M has the potential to light the Black Knights up like a Christmas Tree, but that's not going to happen to one military academy by a school with a very deep military heritage. Sherman will likely call off the dogs in the fourth quarter, but A&M should be up by three or four touchdowns by then.

Final Score: A&M 38 – Army 9

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