Disconcerting Signals

It’s one of the rarest penalties called in college football.

Disconcerting Signals or when a defense is charged with simulating the offense’s snap.

Army was whistled for the infraction with 12:02 left in the third quarter at Penn State Saturday.

Coach Jeff Monken said he’s heard of the penalty but have never had it called against one of his team.

Here’s how the penalty and the conversation between the officiating crew and Army went down, as per Monken:

“They (the officials) asked me at halftime, ‘What are your defensive calls?,’” Monken said.
I said, ‘Here’s some of the calls.’
They said, ‘They (Army’s defense) are saying set go.’
I said, ‘We don’t have anything set go.’
They said, ‘If they say that, we are going to have to throw a penalty.’
I said, ‘I understand but ask our guys. I don’t think our guys are saying that.’

“They made a bunch of different calls, which we are permitted to do,” Monken said. “It was a line movement and we make a call for a guy to shift and move to a different spot. They had jumped offside earlier in the game. They flinched (in the third quarter) and they threw a flag. Their left tackle had moved. The umpire came in and said, ‘No, they were simulating the count.’”
“I said, ‘Hey, Jay (Bateman, Army’s defensive coordinator), what was the call?’ He told me what the call was and I said, “Here’s what they are saying.”

“Like I’ve said, the officials are trying to do their job,” Monken said. “They are trying to do the best that they can. They are not always right and neither am I.”

The penalty gave Penn State 1st-and-5 at Army’s 12. Army’s defense held and forced Penn State to kick a 27-yard field goal, putting the Nittany Lions up 13-0.

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Brinson National Scholar Athlete

Army freshman linebacker Kenneth Brinson earned a trip in December to New York City.

Brinson was named one of five National High School scholar athletes by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Wednesday.

“I’m really grateful and really honored,” Brinson said. “It sets the tone for how hard I need to keep working here and in the future.”

Brinson’s grade-point average at The Marist School in Atlanta was 4.1. He scored a 2,170 on his SAT.

“There are people here (at West Point) that have 2,400,” Brinson said. “(His score is) maybe a little below average for here.”

Brinson, who starred in football, wrestling and track and field at Marist, chose Army over Stanford among others. He’s seen action in all five games, starting against Wake Forest. Brinson has six tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.

“I’m very thankful,” Brinson said of the recognition. “It’s really been my parents and the people surrounding me and the schools they sent me to and all of the teachers that have had so much influence on me.”

The National Football Foundation will host a luncheon for Brinson, Boston College’s Zachary Allen, Tulsa’s William Hefley, Northwestern’s Jelani Roberts and UCLA’s Josh Roshen on Dec. 8 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

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Updates on Bradshaw, England, Smith

Starting quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw’s status for Saturday’s game against Duke may be largely determined by the way the sophomore practices Thursday, coach Jeff Monken said.

Bradshaw’s snaps increased from Tuesday at Wednesday’s practice. Bradshaw received more snaps than senior A.J. Schurr to try to catch him up, Monken said. An ankle injury caused Bradshaw to miss his first game of the season at Penn State last week.

“I think Bradshaw will be ready,” Monken said. “He got to practice today and he looked much better than he did even yesterday. We’ll really hitting him with a lot of treatments, early in the morning, before practice and after practice. We will do that all the way up and even before the game. I think he’s going to be ready. I’m very optimistic about that.”

Both sophomore safety Rhyan England and junior defensive end Jordan Smith, both starters, continue to go through concussion protocol.

The protocol restricts England and Smith from contact until Saturday. If they continue to pass concussion test through the week, England and Smith could dress for the Duke game.

Monken didn’t rule out England playing if he’s cleared on Saturday morning.

“He’s (England) probably a smart enough player that even sitting in the meetings, he could figure it out and do it,” Monken said. “Whether he will be available or not, we’ll see as we evaluate him through the week.”

If Smith can’t play, junior defensive end Eddy Ruzga would make his first start. Ruzga, a tight end last season, had two tackles for loss against Penn State.

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Defense film breakdown: Penn State

Sophomore defensive end John Voit, junior linebacker Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf, senior cornerback Chris Carnegie and freshman cornerback Brandon Jackson played all 53 snaps at Penn State.

Safeties Rhyan England and Xavier Moss missed their first snaps of the season. No Army player has seen action on every snap this season.

Junior defensive end Eddy Ruzga played a career-high 19 snaps and recorded his first sack.

Freshman cornerback Brandon Jackson also had his first career sack.

Army has 11 sacks this season. The Black Knights sacked quarterbacks just 10 times last year.

King now has 10 tackles for loss, tied for 2nd in the FBS.

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps (as charted off DVR):

*CB Chris Carnegie (53 snaps): 3 tackles
*CB Brandon Jackson (53 snaps): 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss
*LB Andrew King (53 snaps): 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack
*LB Jeremy Timpf (53 snaps): 8 tackles, 1 pass breakup
*DE John Voit (53 snaps): 2 tackles
*S Xavier Moss (49 snaps): 3 tackles, pass breakup
*NT T.J. Atimalala (47 snaps):
*S Rhyan England (46 snaps): 3 tackles
*LB Alex Aukerman (39 snaps): 5 tackles
*DE Jordan Smith (37 snaps): 3 tackles
S Tevin Long (32 snaps):
*LB Bayle Wolf (31 snaps): 4 tackles
DE Eddy Ruzga (19 snaps): 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack
LB Kenneth Brinson (14 snaps): 1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss
DE Evan Finnane (2 snaps):
S Gibby Gibson (1 snap):
* – starter
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Offense film breakdown: Penn State

Senior quarterback A.J. Schurr played all 56 snaps and his first complete game of his career.’

Schurr scored his 10th and 11th career rushing touchdowns.

Army’s starting offensive line of  freshman left tackle Rick Kurz, freshman left guard Victor Nieves, senior center Matt Hugenberg, sophomore right guard Mike Houghton and senior right tackle Ryan Alexander played all 56 snaps.

Army was called for two offensive penalties – a questionable dead-ball clip by tight end Kelvin White in the first quarter and a chop block in the third quarter.

The Black Knights took one snap from the shotgun.

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps (as charted off DVR):

*RT Ryan Alexander (56 snaps)
*RG Mike Houghton (56 snaps)
*C Matt Hugenberg (56 snaps)
*LT Rick Kurz (56 snaps)
*LG Victor Nieves (56 snaps)
*QB A.J. Schurr (56 snaps): 24 carries, 79 yards, 2 TDs (3 and 56 yards), 1-for-1 passing, 32 yards, 4 fumbles, 2 lost.
*TE Kelvin White (44 snaps):
*WR Edgar Poe (38 snaps): 1 catch, 32 yards
*SB John Trainor (43 snaps): 8 carries, 69 yards
*SB Joe Walker (43 snaps): 1 carry, 7 yards
WR DeAndre Bell (30 snaps):
*FB Matt Giachinta (23 snaps): 7 carries, 54 yards
FB Aaron Kemper (17 snaps): 4 carries, 25 yards
FB Drue Harris (16 snaps): 7 carries, 35 yards
SB Nick Black (12 snaps): 1 carry, 2 yards
SB Tyler Campbell (10 snaps):
SB Jordan Asberry (3 snaps): 2 carries, 5 yards, 1 fumble lost
SB Christian Drake (1 snaps): 1 carry, -10 yards, 1 fumble lost
* – started

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Oct. 6 practice blog

Sophomore starting quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was active in practice, throwing passes during 7-on-7 and some scout-team work.

Bradshaw, who missed last week’s against Penn State due to injury, did not participate in contact drills.

Coach Jeff Monken said at his weekly press conference if Bradshaw is healthy he will start against Duke.

Senior A.J. Schurr took first-team reps and would make his second straight start if Bradshaw can’t go.

Sophomore tackle Brett Toth is back taking first-team snaps after missing the last three games due to injury.

Safety Rhyan England and offensive linemen Justin Gilbert, Rick Kurz and Jaryn Villegas did not practice.

England was carted off the field after suffering a head injury in the fourth quarter at Penn State. Monken said there’s hope that England can play but he must pass tests Wednesday.

If England can’t play, junior Tevin Long, Army’s nickelback, would likely start at safety.

The following players were wearing Ranger jerseys for perfect effort against Penn State: LB Alex Aukerman; FB Matt Giachinta; C Matt Hugenberg; LB Andrew King; WR Edgar Poe; DE Eddy Ruzga; DE John Voit.

Sights and sounds: Superintendent Bob Caslen attended practice…Junior quarterback Matt Kaufmann dropped in a pass to freshman slotback Tyler Campbell…Kaufmann connected with freshman slotback Jordan Asberry. Freshman wide receiver Jamal Tookes elevated over a cornerback to make a nice catch on a pass from freshman quarterback Chris Carter. Carter showed some speed getting to the outside on a run…Monken took notice of the catch, saying, “Hell of a play, Tookes.”…Senior Daniel Grochowski’s 47-yard field goal finished practice with the entire team circling the kicker and screaming as loud as possible.

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Quick thoughts: Penn State

Army could have and probably should have upset Penn State in Happy Valley Saturday.

Can argue Army, especially on the defensive side of ball, outplayed Penn State for a good part of the game.

The Black Knights left State College with another hard lessons in figuring out how to win games late.

Army continues to play collectively as hard as I’ve seen a West Point team play. The offensive and defensive line did more than hold their own against a bigger Penn State.

But, Army played one of its sloppiest games on offense. Hard to believe that Army still had a chance to win with less than two minutes left, considering its seven fumbles.

Only two of those fumbles were forced by Penn State. The remaining five were self-inflected.

Army’s three lost fumbles were at Army’s 42, Penn State’s 43 and Army’s 41, wasting field position.

The Black Knights could have easily rushed for more than 300 yards against Penn State, who entered the game 14th against the run, with better ball security.

It took Army a half but it picked up chunks of yards up the middle, running at Penn State’s stud defensive tackles Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson.

Thought Army would have called a timeout before its final play – the 4th-and-5 from Penn State 43. Army had all three of its timeouts left. The play would have worked, coach Jeff Monken said, if quarterback A.J. Schurr would have hung in the pocket instead of taking the sack.

Schurr, who was officially credited with four fumbles (two lost), had to take the loss the hardest among Army players. He showed a lot of toughness and fight overcoming the fumbles and putting Army in position for the upset. Wasn’t certain that Schurr would return after hurting his shoulder late in the first half.

Thought Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman called a good game. He dialed up a cornerback blitz by Brandon Jackson that completely caught Penn State off guard.

Penn State had 11 runs of two yards or less. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg resorted to throwing short passes most of the game.

Junior defensive end Eddy Ruzga provided a spark with his first sack and another tackle for a loss.

In all, defense played good enough to win and the offense couldn’t overcome its mistakes.

Army’s quest for a program-changing win continues.

How different would this week be if Army was coming off a win heading into a game against a better Duke team Saturday?

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KnightCap: Penn State

Quick video recep of Army falling just short at Penn State.

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VIDEO: Schurr, King, Timpf postgame Penn State

Army quarterback A.J. Schurr, linebacker Andrew King and linebacker Jeremy Timpf met the media after a 20-14 loss at Penn State.

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VIDEO: Jeff Monken Penn State postgame

Army coach Jeff Monken talks about 20-14 loss at Penn State.

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    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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