September 14, 2010

Monday Notebook: Army looks to rebound against North Texas

"Upon the fields of friendly strife,
Are sown the seeds
That, upon other fields, on other days,
Will bear the fruits of victory.''

- General Douglas MacArthur

Losing a football game in the final seven seconds can be debilitating, sometimes paralyzing. And that is why last Saturday's 31-28 defeat to Hawaii could be a concern going into this Saturday's game against North Texas.

Could be. Won't be. Rarely is.

"That's the something we do very well here,'' coach Rich Ellerson said during his weekly teleconference this afternoon. "When I mean here I mean West Point. I'm not talking Army football I'm talking about West Point. We're able to clear and get ourselves in the moment.

"We don't have time for any of that garbage. When we look at tape Sunday afternoon,'' he said of the previous game, "we look at it with an eye for the next opponent. We're not beating ourselves up or patting ourselves on the back. We're focused on, "How does this carry over? How does this set us up for success for the following week?' And we are very much in that mode now. We're focused. We're past Hawaii.''

The lessons remain, however.

What the Black Knights took from the Hawaii game, what they took from the Eastern Michigan, much of that will be implemented into the North Texas game.

There were lessons learned from going up against Eastern Michigan's run game. There were lessons learned from going up against Hawaii's passing game. "We have to try our best to stay in the moment on the next snap. If we do that we'll have a chance,'' Ellerson said. "You can't do that for all 60 minutes; there's going to be some ups and downs.

"We had some good pressure, but not consistent,'' he said about Hawaii's passing attack. "We made some plays. We had some good coverage. We forced some bad throws. But it's another thing to put those in a string and get them off the field. We need to be more aggressive.''

North Texas will come at them in the air and on the ground, and have one of the country's top producing running backs in Lance Dunbar. He's run for 221 yards in losses to Clemson and Rice, and in nine of his career starts has rushed for at least 100 yards.

To balance that the Mean Green have the country's 23rd-ranked pass offense, although their starting quarterback, Nathan Tune, is now out with a hip injury.

In last year's game at Michie Stadium Dunbar ran for 132 yards, including a 68-yard TD run. Army won the game 17-13 on a two-yard run by Trent Steelman, who, by the way, will start despite being knocked out of last week's game with a sore shoulder.

While Army is coming off its tough loss, North Texas is as well, having lost to Rice 32-31.

The Mean Green put up 420 yards in total offense, though, which will obviously again test Army's defense. Defensively, Ellerson pointed out, North Texas is quite familiar with Army's option attack.

"Their defensive staff has a lot of wishbone and option backgrounds, and they had success against us last year,'' he said.

(But) our goal is to win the next game, and that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna win the next game.

- Army HC, Rich Ellerson

In last year's game North Texas put up 447 yards to Army's 287. It threw the ball 41 times and ran it 30. "Offensively they're a nightmare,'' Ellerson said. "They're out-gaining people all over the place. They're more like Eastern Michigan than Hawaii in terms of approach, but they're prolific. They go up and down the field. It's not like it's a shot in the dark.''

Ellerson did not offer any changes in personnel, despite the defense allowing Hawaii's passing game to get out of control in the opening half. As for freshman running back Raymond Maples, Ellerson called his ankle injury, "day to day.''

Whoever's in there, Ellerson anticipates another down-to-the wire experience, saying, "We're going to be in a lot of games like that, (some) coming down to a single play. We don't expect it to be any other way.

"We hope it's that way. If it's not that way,'' he added, "It's probably because we got clobbered. (But) our goal is to win the next game, and that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna win the next game.''

On a field of friendly strife, where this team will continue to sow the seeds.

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