July 9, 2012

Q&A with Army Head Coach, Rich Ellerson - Part II

GBK: Hey Coach, there's an accounting term, FIFO (First In First Out) which in this case may be applicable to the seasoned players on the roster. As such, there is tremendous offensive firepower returning this season, lead by Trent Steelman, Raymond Maples, Larry Dixon and a host of others. What are your expectations from this unit going into summer camp and the season itself.

Obviously like you said Charles, we have an awful lot of veteran guys that have played a lot of football. We still have a little bit of an unsettled situation at receiver. I'm excited about Chevaughn Lawrence, Patrick Laird, EJ Tucker and Anthony Stephens. I'm also interested in exploring Billy Fisher Malcolm Brown in that capacity. Because as you mentioned our running back situation if we're healthy there and if certainly go into this healthy with Raymond Maples, Stephan Fraser, Jon Crucitti, Terry Baggett, Jared Hassin and Trenton Turrentine... holy cow, that's an awful lot of guys to stack up at a couple of running back positions and that doesn't include Malcolm. There will be some things that we will be exploring that way. Obviously we have a lot of guys that will be ask to do things that they have done before.

They've been around the block so it's going to be a tough road to hold for those young guys because they are going to come in and witness some guys that not only know what to do but they look really good doing it.

The thing obviously that we have to be better at offensively is that we are just going to have to be that much more precise and detailed with the football. But as I mentioned, a lot of those guys that I just rattled off their names were freshmen last year and the facts are they played too much as freshman. And some of those guys got banged up during the course of the season. The good news is that we have an awful lot of guys who've played ... the bad news for us last year is that they were playing too early. That group that I just mentioned, especially that back end group needs to be especially good with the football (fumbles). We need to be unconsciously competent with some of those things that are fundamental to our offense. Then of course we are going to find a way to tweak it, adjust some things to take advantage of our personnel and take advantage of our early schedule.

GBK: I like to target 3 offensive players if you don't mind. And ask if you could give just one or two words that you feel best describe each ball player.

Malcolm Brown
Frank Allen
Jared Hassin

Malcolm Brown: Malcolm is a guy that has played an awful lot of football for us and some of his best stuff is when he's touching the ball. He's had a hard time ... as you know last year we had to manage him through the year because he's had chronic injuries. Not debilitating injuries, but chronic injuries. And I've had a guy in the past in the system where dog-gone-it, they're exactly the right guy to be in there and pitching the ball to. But the physical nature of that job description their body just couldn't handle it and that guy transitioned to receiver and was an All-American. The nice thing would be to get some guys like Malcolm and Chevaughn Lawrence .... dog-gone-it, if we got Malcolm Brown at wide receiver, we are going to be looking for ways to get the ball in his hands. If Malcolm is out there with some of those other players I mentioned at A & C (slotbacks) those are some real weapons that you want to make sure that the ball is being distributed to. Chevaughn's a little bit like that. Chevaughn looks like he has that kind of upside.

I'm intrigued by that, but I'm not sure if that will happen ... because you know how training camp can be {laughing}. Two guys sprain their ankles and Malcolm's back in that "A" back slot in a blink of an eye. But that's something that we are just going to watch. We have to manage him physically and we can't let him get beat down and exacerbate some of those pre-conditions that he carries with him.

Frank Allen: Frank is a three year starter on the offensive line and that's what it looks like. When we find ourselves putting training tape together ... this is what it looks like especially in the interior offensive line, Frank is the star of that video. He can be more consistent and he has over time become more consistent. We expect in his senior year not only to be a 4th starter on the offensive line, but be consistent on the offensive line, but be a leader for that young group. Because, I mentioned some of those young names that are going to be in the middle of it soon and they need to really benefit from his tutelage as we go forward.

Jared Hassin: Jared's having that new adventure. Jared had just a ton of physical challenges between his back and maybe the payback from the beating he took as a sophomore and he's transitioned to halfback ... he's playing that A/C slot position. He's certainly athletic enough to do that, his body's changed a little bit, he's dropped some weight and as you know, he's tremendously explosive and athletic. Our hope is that he will be able to stay healthy. Some of the best things that he has done is catching the football. So he certainly has the ball skills to play that position and he's certainly has the physical statured to be an effective blocker. He runs well, he does all the things you want from a big physical halfback.

The thing that he's going to have to do is .... and he's one of those guys we we talk about we must be better with the football, you can put an asterisk next to his name. He has to better with that, he has to be a guy that we absolutely trust to be great with the football. If he is, then he's potentially a weapon at that position, along with Ray Maples and Terry Baggett ... that's an imposing group physically. You talk about those three guys trying to hold down two positions. That's a really gifted ... guys who are gifted, guys that can run and if they hit you you better bring your lunch because they can deliver a blow.

GBK: My final question surrounding the offense. There is a need for players like Chevaughn Lawrence and others to step up and in at receiver. Coming into summer practice, which guys should we be keeping an eye on and what expectations do you have for this crew this summer?

We still have a little bit of an unsettled situation at receiver. I'm excited about Chevaughn Lawrence, Patrick Laird, EJ Tucker and Anthony Stephens. I'm also interested in exploring Malcolm Brown in that capacity.

Laird and Tucker are as tough of a football players as we have on our team. And Anthony Stephens has played a lot of football for us. So we've got a chance to really to transition to that part and make that part of the field more productive than it's been.

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