2013 Army Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Army Black Knight Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: You know what's coming. After leading the nation with 346.5 rushing yards per game in 2011, the ground game was even better last season averaging 370 yards per outing thanks to quarterback Trent Steelman and a veteran line. Steelman is gone, but A.J. Schurr and Angel Santiago are speedy options who'll keep the production going under center, while Raymond Maples and a veteran group of backs should be fantastic once again. Unfortunately, the passing attack was more than just the least productive in college football; it was also one of the most inefficient, but Chevaughn Lawrence is a good receiver who can do more if targeted. The line will come around with a little bit of time, but it's small, quick and relatively inexperienced.
Star of the offense: Senior RB Raymond Maples
Passing: A.J. Schurr
8-18, 130 yds, 2 TD, INT
Rushing: Raymond Maples
223 carries, 1,215 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Chevaughn Lawrence
21 catches, 357 yds, 0 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore QB A.J. Schurr
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Matt Hugenberg
Best pro prospect: Junior FB Larry Dixon
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Maples, 2) Dixon, 3) OG Stephen Shumaker
Strength of the offense: Running, Running Backs
Weakness of the offense: Passing, Line Size
Gone is heart-and-soul leader and top rusher Trent Steelman, who ran the ground game for four years and had it down cold by the end of his career – up until a final heart-crushing fumble against Navy. Getting the first look at the job is sophomore A.J. Schurr, who's more of a passer than junior Angel Santiago, one of the team's quickest players. The 6-0, 185-pound Schurr got in a little bit of work last season completing 8-of-18 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns – Steelman only threw one scoring pass – and ran for 47 yards and a touchdown. Schurr is a solid runner and fits the mold, but he can also drive the ball down the field a little bit. The 5-11, 188-pound Santiago is lightning fast and can turn the corner on a dime, but he's not an accurate passer and has a limited arm. However, he's a faster and better athlete than Steelman and could be more of a home run hitter depending on how he's used.
Watch Out For … Santiago. Schurr was on top of the depth chart going into the summer, but Santiago was trying to get through a hamstring problem and wasn't 100% throughout spring ball. Schurr will probably get the starting job for the opener, but Santiago is way too fast to not get a long look as a runner if he's not under center.
Strength: Incredible quickness. It's Army – you know what you're getting. The quarterbacks are going to run well and be the main focus of the offense with big run after big run, but they're also going to take a beating. Fortunately, Schurr and Santiago can both play.
Weakness: Passing. This is always going to be an issue, even though the coaches always try to change things up and get more through the air in the offseason. Not having a passing game isn't an issue, but the few throws have to count. Georgia Tech and Navy hit on big plays after lulling defenses to sleep with the ground game. Army can't do that.
Outlook: Steelman might have been fantastic with 1,248 yards and 17 touchdowns, but it's always a case of Next Man Up in these offenses. Schurr and Santiago will be more than fine, and considering Army went 2-10 last year, the loss of the team's top offensive weapon won't hurt that much.
Unit Rating: 6
While the quarterbacks are the most dangerous runners in the offense, there's a good back returning to work around in senior Raymond Maples, a 6-1, 218-pound veteran who finished second on the team with 1,215 yards and two touchdowns averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and he finished third with six catches for 108 yards and a score. A tough pounder of a runner with good speed when he gets to the outside, he tore up Navy for 156 yards on 27 carries and killed Boston College with 184 yards on 34 attempts. With 2,489 career yards, he knows what he's doing for the offense in the C position, while 5-10, 187-pound junior Stephen Fraser is a quick backup who got in a little bit of work finishing with 40 yards on ten carries.
6-1, 200-pound junior Terry Baggett got the starting not over the first two games of the season, running for 138 yards on just 16 carries, averaging a whopping 8.6 yards per pop with 100 yards and a score on 13 carries in the opener against San Diego State, but he was lost for the season with a knee injury in the second game of the year against Northern Illinois. 5-9, 206-pound junior Trenton Turrentine stepped in over the second half of the year and was good for a few carries per game running for 177 yards and a score on 29 carries. It took a little while to get back from a knee injury suffered in 2011, but he's very quick and very promising with great upside now that he's a year removed from being banged up.
With Jared Hassin only seeing a little bit of time last season, junior Larry Dixon filled in at fullback and got the job done with pounding 6-0, 238-pound size and good quickness running for 839 yards and six touchdowns averaging six yards per carry. He cranked out five 100-yard games with 136 yards and three scores against Northern Illinois and 128 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries against Boston College. With his size and workhorse ability, he's a perfect fit for the attack. He'll be backed up by 5-11, 225-pound senior Hayden Tippett, a shifty inside runner who filled in well running for 100 yards and a score on 20 carries against Ball State and finished the season with 234 yards and a touchdown averaging five yards per carry.
Watch Out For … Tippett. While he'll be used as a fullback, there's always room for several different types of backs depending on the team and the situation. Dixon is a horse and can carry the load, but he can't be worn down. The more Tippett can produce, the better.
Strength: The offense. As always, the Army offense will center around the quarterbacks running, but Maples and Dixon form a deadly tandem that should combine for over 2,000 yards. Seven of the top ten rushers are back, and Army won't have any problems finding options.
Weakness: The passing game. It would be nice if the coaching staff could figure out how to get the backs into the passing attack to give them the ball on the move, but that's just not how the offense works. Getting five yards a crack running the ball obviously works, but this group can do so much more.
Outlook: The backfield was loaded last year, and now everyone is back but Hassin – who wasn't a factor last season – and Malcolm Brown, who was fourth on the team with 441 yards. There are plenty of options with a few key parts healing up, and with Maples and Dixon, the ground game should continue to put up big numbers. The rating is based on production, not talent.
Unit Rating: 8
As always, the Army passing game is along for the ride, but the offense has a good receiver to utilize more. Junior Chevaughn Lawrence has the speed and skill to be the deep ball playmaker the offense desperately needs, and he did what he could considering he only got the ball a few times a game – at best. He led the team by far with 21 catches for 357 yards averaging 17 yards per play, and that's what he's going to be good for. At 6-3 and 195 pounds he has excellent size and can catch defenses napping once in a while, but he needs to be targeted more.
Lawrence will work at the Z spot, while seniors Patrick Laird and Ejay Tucker will combine at the X. The 6-3, 219-pound Laird is a terrific blocker and turned into a decent receiver on occasion finishing second on the team with 11 catches for 125 yards with a score. The 5-11, 204-pound Tucker is a good hitter, but he only caught one pass for 18 yards in the loss to Temple.
Watch Out For … Tucker. The coaching staff has to figure out how to use him. One of the team's fastest players, he has yet to do anything with just one career catch and no carries. He'll figure into the passing game a bit more, but his speed could be deadly in space.
Strength: Size. You can't play receiver at Army if you can't block, and there's some good size to pound away for the ground game. This is a tough, physical group, but there's a little bit of speed, too.
Weakness: The offense. Army completed 37 passes in 2011 and just 51 last season. There might be a little more of a passing attack this season with Schurr getting more time, but it's not exactly going to be an air show.
Outlook: The team has some real receivers to play around with, but will they ever get the ball? Lawrence is good, Laird is a veteran and Tucker is a speedster. There's more size waiting in the wings, but they're not going to get a slew of plays their way.
Unit Rating: 4
It's going to take a little bit of work up front with three regular starters gone and needing center Ryan Powis to get back and healthy after playing banged up throughout the year and missing the first few games. Woefully undersized for the position at 6-0 and 248 pounds, he's great on the move and he's a good leader, but he takes a beating. He'll work in a rotation with 5-11, 239-pound junior Todd McDonald, who doesn't have any real experience with just one career appearance, but he'll be needed more to keep Powis in one piece.
Needing to step in for the team's top blocker, Frank Allen, at left guard is junior Stephen Shumaker, who started every game at right guard but will move over. At 6-0 and 26 pounds he's not huge, but he's quick and effective. If he has to move back over, 6-3, 280-pound senior John Szott, who saw time in every game, could add more size to the position. With Shumaker moving over, 6-3, 285-pound sophomore Matt Hugenberg will bring some desperately needed bulk after getting his feet wet in his first year. He's a banger, while 6-5, 266-pound senior Richard Rainey is a veteran backup who'll see time in the rotation.
The combination of promising 6-3, 265-pound sophomore Justin Gilbert and 6-2, 243-pound senior veteran Michael Kime will work at right tackle. Kime is a good blocker, but he doesn't have the size and can't flatten anyone. Trying to come back from a knee injury, he'll have to fight to push out the larger Gilbert. 6-1, 238-pound junior Nick Bennett and 6-2, 250-pound senior Zach Riechert will combine forces on the left side. Bennett has strictly been a reserve so far while Reichert started against Navy and appears ready to handle the full-time job once he's healthy.
Watch Out For … Hugenberg. The line desperately needs bulk, and Hugenberg provides it. He's going to need a little while before he becomes a top blocker, but he could become the anchor sooner than later.
Strength: Quickness. Partly be design and partly necessity, the Army line is full of smallish, quick linemen who do a good job on the move. The parts are interchangeable with everyone able to kick out and spring the backs.
Weakness: Raw bulk. There isn't any, meaning the linebacker-sized linemen have to work in a rotation to try staying in one piece.
Outlook: The Knights have had the No. 1 running game in college football over the last two seasons, so the system works, but it's not a physical line in any way. Even with all the turnover this will be an effective group for what the offense does, but there should be a bit of a drop off. Last year's line was the strongest and most experienced in the Rich Ellerson era, and this one might need a little bit to get the timing down.
Unit Rating: 5
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