October 2, 2009

Inside the Huddle: Friday Night Tidbits

INSIDE THE HUDDLE

If you were to ask Offensive coordinator Ian Shields what he wants to see out of the offense against Tulane tomorrow, one word might come to mind and that is "conversion", which as one definition describes it, "a substitution of one component for another so as to effect a change."

"We need to finish some of these drives," shared the animated OC. "We had some long drives … Three really good drives, where one was 16 plays for 74 yards and a touchdown, but then another great drive and did not finish the drive off and got stalled in the green zone.

The Black Knights are still trying to find the exact formula offensively and it is imperative to keep quarterback Trent Steelman healthy, although junior signal caller Chip Bowden proved that he is more than capable of steeping in.

However, having Steelman out has less to do with Bowden's competency, as it has to do with developing an offensive continuity and rhythm.

"We need to execute more precisely in the option game," said Shields. "Although Chip did a nice filling in for Trent at quarterback, but it did hurt losing Steelman who was playing well. And there were a bunch of guys that were playing together for the first time and some guys that were inexperienced."

CLOCK CONTROL

"We don't have a tone of homerun hitters or the big play guys offensively," notes the Black Knights' OC. "So what we need to do is use the baseball analogy … we need to play with the small ball mentally, which is bunt the guys over, take pitches … because we don't have the big boppers in the lineup. Play efficient and eat the clock up which is what we are doing and doing well … our average time of possession is 34 minutes a game.

We need to finish those drives and score another or two a game."

On-Deck Homerun Hitters?

There are two youngsters that have been waiting in the wings and look for them to make some noise this weekend. Freshmen Malcolm Brown and Lonnie Liggins bring unique styles, but both have the potential to that much needed big play ball carrier. However, only time will tell and tomorrow's contest will serve as an opportunity for both.

"Malcolm has the most upside of from that perspective and probably the fastest of any of those slot backs when you take McDaniel out of the equation because he's injured," declared Shields. "Malcolm… he's a talent … he's still new to it all and missed a lot of time due to injuries. He can do some things, but can't do everything right now. Will it be this Saturday? Boy, I'm not sure so sure because he needs to be a little bit more sound with his fundamentals. Down the road he will be a weapon for us.

Lonnie is probably more similar in his skill sets to Pat (Mealy) although Lonnie is a little quicker than Pat. It was good for Lonnie to get out and play last week … he has a bright future here as well and we are encouraged with those two young guys."

Backfield Starters vs. Tulane

Look for Mealy, who is Army's best offensive football player right now, to return to his slot role now that Kinsley Ehie has recovered from being nicked up.

Also look for Brad Gallick to get some time at the B-Back behind Kingsley, and a natural fullback type with good feet and of course a tough player. He also has some time spent with Steelman from their time at the prep school.

Jamison Carter, who is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, along with solid speed will start at the other slot.

Look for Liggins and Brown to step in and get reps at the slot positions, along with George Fletcher and Ian Smith who will be ready to jump in there when their number is called.

Wide Receivers

Ali Villanueva and Damion Hunter remain as the starters, with Austin Barr rounding out the trio that have been the primary receiving corp throughout the first quarter of the season.

However, [db]Davyd Brooks has made some noise in practice and continues to improve as a player, which may allow for him to receive some playing time in tomorrow's contest. "Brooks is going to get some more time and is practicing well," says Shields. "He is one of our more physical receivers, does a nice job blocking … understanding leverage and plays the fad and deep ball well. He has earned some playing time."

Changing of the Guard?

Not only the changing of the guard, but also so concerns and changes at left tackle.

The good news is that Fritz Bentler is back this week from his injury that has kept him out of the first four games of the season. Remember, Bentler was a starter before he got hurt and although he may not be will be ready to go a full game, he should play this Saturday at left guard.

Joe Bailey will still start and continues to do a nice job there, along with Anees Merzi who is still there behind Bailey, but the staff has him working some at left tackle.

Center, Zach Peterson has been great all season and Seth Reed has been great at right guard, as well as Jason Johnson doing a nice job at right tackle.

"Between Mike McDermott, Brad Kelly and now Anees at left tackle, we need to get a more production out of that position," states a somewhat concerned Shields.

"From the center over the right, we are in good shape … the left side has be more problematic, but they are coming along."

We had a really good week of practice and I think we will be more precise. We need to execute well … that needs to be our calling card … that should be who we are here at Army.

Offensively, one of the positives from last week for Army is that they did not lose the football compared to their 6 fumble turnover performance against Duke two weeks ago.



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