2009 Army Black Knights Football Preview
2008 Record: (3-9, 0-0)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Rich Ellerson (First year at Army, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ian Shields
Defensive Coordinator: Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland
Other Key Returnees: LB Antuan Aaron, DT Fritz Bentler, K Matthew Campbell, FB Bryson Carl, CB Mario Hill, OT Jason Johnson, CB Jordan Trimble, DT Victor Ugenyi, QB Carson Williams
Key Losses: DT Ted Bentler, G Brandon Cox, S Lowell Garthwaite, G Mike Lemming, RB Wesley McMahand, C Trey Miranne, RB Collin Mooney, LB John Plumstead, LB Frank Scappaticci
Coach Stan Brock only lasted two years at Army, and those were two really awful years where it seemed like the only team that could not figure out their anemic offense was Tulane. Army has transformed their offense way too many times recently and finding what offensive system fits this team has been very difficult. New head coach Rich Ellerson will instill an option running attack that will hope to throw the ball a little more often than Army did last year.
There probably is not really a positive to this team besides the change in regime and the hope that comes with it. Coach Ellerson did a great job with the offense at Cal Poly, but with the experienced personnel he has on hand, it is the defense that will have to keep this team in games. The front line has Josh McNary, Victor Ugenyi and Fritz Bentler to build around. McNary led the team with 4.5 sacks a year ago and Ugenyi and Bentler are decent run stoppers. The linebackers need to find a couple new starters, but Stephen Anderson is back in the middle of the defense and should lead the team in tackling. The secondary might be the most talented unit on the team. Corners Mario Hill and Jordan Trimble are experienced players and if Trimble can stay healthy he could emerge as a shutdown corner. Add free safety Donovan Travis to the mix and the secondary has more talent than one would think.
Last year the Black Knights averaged an incredibly awful 46.25 passing yards per game. Even Navy eclipsed the 60 yard per game mark. Quarterback Chip Bowden is back and Coach Ellerson hopes to throw the ball more often. However, there is a huge hole at the receiver position. The staff addressed some of those needs with the recruiting class, but it will take a little time before those guys are ready to go. In the meantime it will be up to Damion Hunter and former 6-10 offensive tackle Ali Villaneuva to turn into reliable receiving targets. For now, Army will have no choice but to run the ball and they did pretty well last year, yet that was with the now departed Collin Mooney, who rushed for 1,339 yards last season. Bryson Carl is the likely replacement, but he will need some help from CeDarius Williams and Kingsley Ehie.
The Bottom Line for the Black Knights:
The offense has trouble as it is, but the biggest issue may be the offensive line. With Villaneuva moving to the wide receiver spot, only one starter returns to the line. That might stop the ground game in its tracks. Coach Ellerson practically has to build from scratch and his offense has been successful and it will be successful again, but it will take a few years.
By Joel Welser
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