Army Black Knights
Preview 2008 - Defense
2008 CFN Army
2008 Army Offense
2008 Army Defense |
2008 Army Depth
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.