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2008 Army Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 11, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Army Black Knight Defense


Army Black Knights

Preview 2008 - Defense


- 2008 CFN Army Preview | 2008 Army Offense
- 2008 Army Defense |
2008 Army Depth Chart
-
2007 CFN Army Preview | 2006 CFN Army Preview 

What you need to know:
The Black Knight defense hasn't done much of anything for two straight seasons, but the potential is there for a little bit of improvement if the secondary can surprise. The corners will be fine with a little bit of time, but there's a big drop-off at safety after losing the 200 tackles of Caleb Campbell and Jordan Murray. The secondary will get picked on early, while teams that can run the ball, will. The tackles should be decent if Ted Bentler and Mike Gann are as good as expected, and Frank Scappaticci will be excellent moving from outside linebacker to the middle. Now there needs to be more of a pass rush, actually, any pass rush, to save the secondary.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Frank Scappaticci, 89
Sacks: Ted Bentler, 3
Interceptions: Josh Mitchell, Frank Scappaticci, 2

Star of the defense: Senior LB Frank Scappaticci
Player who has to step up and become a star: All the safeties
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore CB Jordan Trimble
Best pro prospect: Junior DT Ted Bentler
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Scappaticcil, 2) Bentley, 3) DT Mike Gann
Strength of the defense: Tackles, linebackers
Weakness of the defense: Pass rush, secondary experience

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: 6-2, 280-pound junior Ted Bentler took over the starting job three games into the season and turned into one of the team's productive linemen. The tackle made 42 tackles and led the team with three sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss and five broken up passes. The Iowa transfer killed the first-team when he was a scout teamer two years ago, and now he'll be turned loose as the star of the front four.

Next to Bentler is 6-2, 270-pound Mike Gann, a decent reserve who made 22 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss playing behind John Wright. He's an active inside presence who can get into the backfield, but he has to turn into a rock against the run.

Back to his starting role on the outside is 6-3, 253-pound junior Victor Ugenyi after making 33 tackles, a sack, and a team-leading 7.5 tackles for loss. He started the first eight games before getting bumped over the final month, but he has the motor, the size, and the quickness to become more of a force in the backfield. Now he has to start coming up with more sacks.

On the other side will be 6-4, 250-pound junior Nicholas Emmons, who booted Ugenyi out of a starting spot late last year and finished with 21 tackles, a sack and four tackles for loss. An excellent athlete, he should shine with the bigger role if the rest of the line can keep some of the heat off him.

Projected Top Reserves: The Black Knights have a promising prospect to rotate into the fold with junior Fritz Bentler working behind Victor Ugenyi. The 6-3, 235-pounder is a pure end who needs to use his quickness to get into the backfield on a regular basis.

There's toughness in the middle, but no experience and not a lot of size. 6-3, 262-pound senior Mark Faldowski will look to make an impact behind Mike Gann, while 5-10, 224-pound senior David Kava will rotate in behind Ted Bentler to try to use his quickness to get to the quarterback.

Watch Out For ... Improvement. Ted Bentler is a great one to work around, while Gann, Ugenyi and Emmons can play. This might not be a brick wall of a line, but it should be better than it was last season.
Strength
:
Interior pressure. Bentler is a Tasmanian devil when it comes to getting into the backfield, while Gann is a quick veteran who should do more now that he has a bigger role.
Weakness
:
Overall pass rush. This has been non-existent for years with a mere 39 over the last three seasons. There might be good quickness in the middle and decent promise on the outside, but the group has to start hitting a quarterback now and then.
Outlook: The line has been miserable over the last two seasons getting shoved all over the place against the run and generating no pass rush whatsoever. As long as there aren't any major injuries, things should be better with a good starting foursome to hope for a bit of improvement. The big problem is the developed depth; there isn't any. The team might as well cancel the season if Bentler and Gann go down on the inside.
Rating: 4.5


Linebackers

Projected Starters: The the linebacking corps, and the defense, will work around senior Frank Scappaticci, the leading returning tackler who made 89 stops with a sack, six tackles for loss, and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. The 6-1, 224-pounder started every game on the weakside and will move move to the middle to replace Brian Chmura. He's a natural on the inside and should be able to use his excellent athleticism to make more plays from sideline to sideline.

Taking over Scappaticci's role on the weakside will be 6-1, 231-pound sophomore Josh McNary, a big option who saw work last season in a reserve role making 15 stops with a sack. After starting out at defensive end, he moved back to linebacker where he was more natural and added more bulk to the corps. Now he has to prove he can stay with running backs on pass patterns.

5-10, 222-pound senior John Plumstead got a little bit of starting work on the strongside, and spent the rest of the time as a key reserve and special teams star, making 43 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. A very active, very experienced defender, he has the quickness to play on the weakside but is tough enough to handle himself at any of the three positions.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 231-pound Stephen Anderson came up with a nice plebe season making 15 tackles and two tackles for loss on the weakside. A strong special teamer as well as a promising linebacker, he'll be a future fixture on the outside. He'll push McNary hard for time.

Working behind Scappaticci in the middle will be 5-10, 220-pound senior veteran Arlance Jenkins, who made seven tackles in a limited role. And undersized high school defensive end, he's mostly been a special teamer so far. If he can emerge as more of a regular in the linebacking rotation, Scappaticci can spend a little bit of time on the outside.

Watch Out For ... the linebackers to quickly grow into the strength of the defense. Scappaticci is a good one to start with, and Plumstead and McNary will be able hold their on on the outside. This won't be a dangerous group of playmakers, but it'll be more than just serviceable.
Strength
:
Scappaticci. The defense needed him to become established in the middle this off-season, and he did. Now the coaching staff knows it has its guy to work around.
Weakness
:
Overall athleticism. Everyone works hard and there's no shortage of toughness, but the athletes aren't there to keep up with an offense with any sort of speed. Making plays against the run on a consistent basis is a must, and the skill might not be there to do it.
Outlook: For the second straight season the Black Knight have to make some major replacements in the linebacking corps, but it's more prepared going into this season. There's some decent depth to provide a few options and some young players waiting in the wings, but it's the trio of Scappaticci, McNary and Plumstead has to be steady so the line can spend more time trying to get to the quarterback.
Rating: 4.5

Defensive Backs


Projected Starters: The biggest hole to fill on the entire team is at strong safety where do-it-all playmaker Caleb Campbell must be replaced. It'll be a battle for the starting job with seniors Lowell Garthwaite and David Black dead even in the race. The 6-1, 207-pound Garthwaite is slightly bigger than the 6-1, 195-pound Black, but Black has more experienced after Garthwaite missed all of last season. Garthwaite made ten tackles playing mostly at free safety in 2006, while Black made two tackles in six games as a junior.

The other huge hole to fill is at free safety where leading tackler Jordan Murray is gone. Sophomore Dononvan Travis is the best option, but he'll have to fight for the starting job with Markenson Pierre. At 6-1 and 187 pounds, Travis has good size and excellent upside, but his inexperience could prove costly early on. If allowed to work his way through the mistakes, he'll be a fixture and a top stat producer for the next three years.

The defense desperately needs a shut-down corner, and that could be Josh Mitchell. The 5-9, 160-pound senior doesn't have the size, but he took over the starting role last season after Josh Laird suffered a knee injury and finished with 30 tackles and two interceptions, taking one pick for a score against Rutgers. He's a quick corner, but he'll be pushed around by the bigger receivers.

Sophomore Jordan Trimble has a world of upside and could quickly grow into one of the team's top defenders. At 5-10 and 183 pounds, he has decent size to go along with a little bit of experience making 14 tackles as a plebe. A nickel back and special teamer last season, he's ready to take over a much bigger role starting on the boundary side.

Projected Top Reserves: Neck and neck with Donovan Travis for the starting free safety job is 5-11, 197-pound senior Markenson Pierre, a little used reserve who made a tackle in seven games. Mostly a special teamer, he's a good athlete with enough practice time to get the nod from day one. However, he doesn't have Travis's upside or talent.

Sophomore T.J. Walker is a jitterbug quick option on the field side behind Mitchell, while 6-0, 182-pound junior Mario Hill is the team's biggest corner and possible nickel back when he's not playing behind Trimble. Hill, who made 14 tackles, has shown flashes that he's ready to be a major factor, and is one of the team's faster players, but he hasn't been able to stand out enough to take a starting job.

Watch Out For ... the secondary to be picked on early and often. Army was 16th in the nation in pass defense last season because everyone spent so much time running the ball. Offense won't be afraid to pound it, but until the secondary proves itself, it'll be bombs away.
Strength
:
The corners ... potentially. Mitchell is a decent veteran and Trimble will soon become one of the stars of the defense. Hill is a nice reserve and Walker can play. The corners aren't going to get enough safety help to shut everyone down, but they'll be fine as the season goes on.
Weakness
:
The safeties. Campbell might have been a bit of a charity draft pick, but he he was still an NFL seventh round selection. It'll be tough to replace the 200 tackles from Campbell and Murray, and even tougher to replace their leadership.
Outlook: The formula's been the same for the last few years, and Army will try to get the same results. Don't give up the big play, allow receivers to catch the ball, come up with the tackle, repeat. Accurate quarterbacks can connect on the midrange passes at will, and the new secondary, with three new starters, and four if you don't count Mitchell, will see plenty of passes come their way. This group would be helped immeasurably by a better pass rush.
Rating: 4

Special Teams

Projected Starters: Senior Adam DeMarco hit one of his first two field goal attempts before suffering a leg injury that limited him to just kicking extra points. He's back and should be steadier with more range than Owen Tolson, the punter, was able to be hitting eight of 15 shots.

Tolson was a solid punting weapon putting 26 inside the 20 while averaging a whopping 45 yards per kick. Senior Andrew Rinehart will try to pick up the slack after mainly seeing time as a holder over the course of his career. He won't be Tolson, but he has to keep the average to around 40 yards a shot.

There's no replacing Jeremy Trimble and his 14.7-yard punt return average, but senior Carlo Sandiego will give it a try. He's only 5-6 and 176 pounds, but he can move. He'll also handle the kickoff return duties after getting one attempt last year for 24 yards.

Watch Out For ... DeMarco to improve the kicking game. Tolson wasn't awful, but he was a punter trying to kick field goals. DeMarco is a kicker.
Strength
:
The return game. Yeah, both return men have to be replaced, but they got room to move. The Black Knight know how to open up space to let the returners move, but ...
Weakness
:
Coverage teams.  ... they can't cover a kick. Army allowed a whopping 26.4 yards per kickoff return and 11.3 yards per punt return.
Outlook: There's a lot of major question marks in an area that can't handle a lot of question marks. There are too many problem areas on the Black Knight to spend enough time on the special teams. The coverage units have to be better, far better, while the kicking game needs to be more consistent.
Rating: 5

  

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 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 11, 2008
2008 Army Preview – Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 11, 2008
2008 CFN Army Preview
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