September 1, 2011

Army vs. Northern Illinois: The Crystal Ball

The Black Knights of Army will open up the2011 season on Saturday evening Northern Illinois. So we figure now is the best time for writers A.M. Allan and Bobby Caldwell to look into the future and make some predictions surrounding Saturday's contest.

Who will score the first touchdown?
A.M.: I'm going with Jared Hassin on this one. I think Mr. Hassin will pick right up where he left off in 2010.

Bobby: I have to go with one of our home run hitters. I can see the NIU defense packed in based on their theory of Army's offense jump starting from quarterback (Trent Steelman) to fullback (Hassin). But I can see slotback Raymond Maples launching a run from at least 35-40 yards out and hitting pay-dirt.

Who will have the biggest hit of the game?
A.M.: I was looking at the Armed Forces Bowl tape the other day, and I saw cornerback Josh Jackson have one of his better games as a Black Knight. But it wasn't his INT that caught my attention, but his hit on the SMU receiver during SMU's final attempt to win the game. I go with Jackson on this one.

Bobby: This is easy. If this game was being played at Michie Stadium, after the big hit of the game, the capacity crowd would hear, "The hit by linebacker Steve Errrrrrrrrzinger."

Which true freshman will have the biggest impact?
A.M.: This is a tough one, but I am going to go with Sam/Strong,
Hayden Pierce, who has a very bright future for the Black Knights.

Bobby: Pierce is a good choice, but Saturday's game will be an opportunity for the offense to be Army's best defense and with that, I look for slotback Trenton Turrentine to have a productive ball game.

Which under-the-radar guy will make an impact?
A.M.: Probably the biggest surprise of the starting line-up on both sides of the ball is center Michael Kime. He jumped over veteran Frank Allen and high touted freshman
Ryan Powis to get the starting nod against NIU.

Bobby: Hands down, it's Michael Kime at center. Not only because he beat out Frank Allen and Ryan Powis, but also the responsibility he will have making the calls up front for the offensive line.

Who will get the first quarterback sack?
A.M.: Yes, Josh McNary is gone, but Jarrett Mackey returns and he will get it going early and will have plenty of opportunity to terrorize the NIU passing game and put pressure on QB Chandler Harnish.

Bobby: Look for Army to run a variety of blitz package and for Erzinger to be mobile relative to where he lines up. The Black Knights' captain will register sack #1.

Who will get the first INT?
A.M.: Look for NIU to come out early and often in the air. But I have a repeat winner and that is cornerback Josh Jackson, who will also make his presence felt on punt returns.

Bobby: Sophomore Tyler Dickson is as athletic as anyone on the squad and will have plenty of opportunity to show just how gifted he is when facing NIU QB Chandler Harnish. He will find himself in the right spot for an overthrown ball and his first INT at free safety.

Will the Army triple option offense come out flat?
A.M.: Not at all. From beginning to the end, they will keep pressure on the NIU defense who only have one experienced linebacker returning in MLB, Pat Schiller.

Bobby: No ... this group is to focused, hungry and seasoned to not have things running on all cylinders right out of the gate.

Which offensive player will have the biggest game for Army? A.M.: I'm going with Trent Steelman as my pick. As is his calling card, he will make solid decisions at quarterback when it comes to ball distribution, as well as being more effective through the air with an array of talented receivers.

Bobby: Jared Hassin. Look for the talented junior FB to a headache for the NIU defense and flash some of his big play ability and show Black Knights' fans he is in for another 1,000 plus season.

Which defensive player will have the biggest game for the Black Knights? A.M.: Steve Erzinger. And won't simply be about his final game numbers, although that will show his on field productivity. It will be his leadership skills that calm the nerves of the youth on the defense.

Bobby: Agree with A.M., Erzinger brings a level of leadership that is needed as much as his tackles.

Who will have the biggest impact on special teams?
A.M.: I will have to say Alex Carlton. He will be a weapon on Saturday and throughout the season.

Bobby: This is the Trifecta for Josh Jackson. I can see this talented return actually do what he says he has missed doing since playing at the USMAPS and that is return one to the house.

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