September 16, 2011
Army's controlled-chaos D is vital for Saturday
As the Black Knights prepare for the visit of the Wildcat of Northwestern, most Army observers will tell you that minus the turnovers, the young men in the Black & Gold left it all on the field against SDSU.
So as the staff spent the early part of this week reviewing the play versus SDSU and preparing for Northwestern, it will take another dig deep effort from the Army defense to make this a ball game.
"From the overall defensive standpoint you appreciated the fight a lot more out of the players versus their effort against Northern Illinois," shared Co-defensive coordinator, Payam Saadat on Thursday.
However, if you listen to Saadat, some of that fight scarified the execution of the defense ... at least to a certain degree.
"I think there were times that we are battling really really hard, but we are also losing the integrity of the defense by having the lack of responsibility to try to make the play through your responsibility," he adds. "A lot of guys were abandoning the defense a little bit. They were playing hard and eventually it will catch up to you .... and it did eventually at the end of the game (vs. SDSU)."
Clearly Coach Saadat does not want his players to lose their edge, but in this catch-22 scenario, he knows that it important that the playing on the edge should not supersede positioning and the players don't compromise playing within the framework of the defensive schemes.
"That's why last year's defense was able to have some of the successes they had and the year before that as well. We got to the point where we played fast, extremely hard, we got the ball from turnovers, but we stayed within the perimeters of our responsibilities. And that's what really can make this defense pretty suffocating."
The Wildcat Attack
The Black Knights' double-eagle-flex defense will have another potentially high powered offense to face on Saturday. This crew pushes the tempo of the game with their no-huddle offense. For Army's defense, this will a challenge relative to substitution, game management, the team's physical conditioning while the Wildcats are in their no-huddle mode.
"They are methodical in the execution of their system," says Saadat. "You can stop the play they are trying to run once or twice, where most teams will say let's try another play, but this team will keep coming at you. And you have to continue to stop it over and over again."
And that happens to be Northwestern Big Ten football. They are going to stick to their guns, they will attempt to do what they do well, and at the pace that they are accustomed to.
Obviously the Sadaat's concern will be sophomore quarterback Kain Colter, who is a quality athlete, as noted when he pulls the ball down and takes off out of the pocket. If you look at Northwestern's offensive success in their first two games, most point Colter's contribution.
However, he is not the Wildcats only weapon and the Black Knights must try and contain running backs and classmates, Adonis Smith and Mike Trumpy. Smith is more of an elusive runner, while Trumpy is a hard nose 210 pound running back.
The Double-Eagle-Flex 11
The starters from last week's lineup remain the same going into Saturday's contest versus Northwestern.
The Black Knights will line-up with a front four of the Watts brothers, Zach and Corey, along with Holt Zalneraitis and A.J. Mackey rounding out the foursome.
Backing them up at the linebacker positions will be captains Steve Erzinger and Andrew Rodriguez (A-Rod) at the Rover and Whip, respectively. Along with Justin Trimble manning the Mike spot.
The secondary will remain intact with freshman Hayden Pierce at strong safety and Tyler Dickson partnering with Pierce from his free safety spot.
At the cornerbacks, you have young, but seasoned , Josh Jackson at the boundary who will be joined by frosh L.J. Harris, who is looking to recover from his poor outing against the Aztecs last Saturday.
Northwestern will be another test for the freshman from Milwaukee (WIS) and surely the staff is not ready to throw the rookie under the bus for having one bad outing. If that were the case, the 95% would have been a casualty after their outing versus Northern Illinois.
"We are going to give him a chance, like everyone else who had a second start against San Diego State, when they didn't do so well against Northern Illinois. L.J. can go a long way in proving that he belongs on the field by his play this Saturday.
However, if Harris doesn't cut it early, don't be surprise to see upperclassman, Waverly Washington step in. Other converted offensive players like Justin Allen and Brian Cobbs appear to be at least one more week away from being called upon for serious playing time at corner.
Allen, is further ahead in his progress than Cobbs at this stage of the game.
The only real significant position shift is coming from the 2 deep, where this week freshman Geoffrey Bacon will backup Trimble at the Mike linebacker spot, while sophomore Reggie Nesbit has moved over to the Rover, as the backup to Erzinger.
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