2015 Army Black Knights Football Preview
Head Coach: Jeff Monken (2nd year; 4-8 at Army; 42-24 overall)
2014 Record: 4-8
Bowl Result: None (Last: 2010 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: W 16-14 vs. SMU)
While the 4-8 mark that Army produced in the first year of the Jeff Monken Era certainly didn’t turn any heads, it wasn’t a bad foundational year for the Black Knights.
The four victories were the most for the program since it went bowling in 2010 and finished 7-6 under former Head Coach Rich Ellerson. Improvement was seen throughout the year and the team nearly ended its long losing streak to rival Navy in the season finale’.
Historically, Army has been among the nation’s leaders running the football and last season was no different as Monken—a Paul Johnson understudy—implemented his version of the triple option.
Senior signal-caller Angel Santiago (814 yards and 10 TD) and senior running back Larry Dixon (1,118 yards and 9 TD) led an attack that yielded 296.5 yards per game—a total that ranked fifth nationally.
With that duo gone, there are certainly some voids to fill in the Black Knights’ backfield.
Senior A.J. Schurr will battle with sophomores Ahmad Bradshaw and Seth Gonzales to become Army’s starting quarterback. Schurr ran for 320 yards and three touchdowns in a reserve role last year.
Senior captain Matt Ginchinta, junior Aaron Kemper and sophomore Nick Shiver will be among the options at running back. Ginchinta (6’1”, 224) had 27 carries for 112 yards and two scores in 2014. Meanwhile, Kemper (5’6”, 212) ran for 142 yards on 24 attempts with 74 of those coming on one play. In the spring game, he tallied 122 yards on 20 carries. Shiver rushed 14 times for 88 yards.
While triple option attacks don’t put it in the air much, when they do, they expect to capitalize on some big play opportunities via play-action passes.
Army’s attack was lacking that aerial threat last year as it only threw three touchdown passes all season.
Junior Edgar Poe (6’4”, 222), who led the team with 10 receptions for 199 yards in 2014, will provide the Black Knights a nice target.
Also, pass protection must improve because despite minimal pass attempts, 16 sacks were surrendered a year ago.
Defensively, Army struggled last season as it allowed nearly 33 points and 430 yards per game. Opponents ran for nearly 200 yards per game.
The Black Knights incurred three significant departures on the defensive line, but a pair of excellent linebackers in juniors Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King.
Timpf (6’1”, 225), who led Army with 117 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in 2014, was among the nation’s leaders in solo tackles after recording 79. He also picked off three passes—which was tied for second on the team.
King (6’0”, 235), who was tied for second on the team with 63 tackles, led the Black Knights with five sacks.
The defensive backfield also returns a couple of experienced veterans in junior Josh Jenkins and senior Chris Carnegie.
Jenkins, who was tied with King for second on the team in tackles in ’14, had a team-best four interceptions.
Carnegie has started the majority of the games he has played in the last three years. Last year, he was fourth on the Black Knights’ in tackles with 54 and was tied for second with three interceptions.
Will Army match or surpass its total of four wins from last season? That will largely depend on how quickly the new offensive backfield can produce and how much improvement the Black Knights can show on defense.
The schedule—which features six home games (Fordham, Wake Forest, Duke, Bucknell, Tulane and Rutgers), five road games (UCONN, Eastern Michigan, Penn State, Rice, Air Force) and the Navy game in Philadelphia—is manageable and doesn’t feature many games that Army shouldn’t have an opportunity to be competitive in.
It’s very possible that Monken and his Black Knights might match or surpass last season’s win total.
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