Inside the numbers: Baggett, Maples carries

Army senior running back Terry Baggett’s touches are way down to start the season.

Baggett has carried the ball just 16 times in the first three games. He’s projected to have 64 carries this season. Last season, Baggett rushed the ball 141 times for 1,113 yards.

Senior running back Raymond Maples has 15 carries this season.

Are there more opportunities for Baggett and Maples on the pitch? How is quarterback Angel Santiago grading out on reading the option?

“He’s missing some reads and those guys out there on the perimeter aren’t helping themselves either blocking the wrong guy out there sometimes,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “So, there’s a lot of things happening. Teams that plays us a little bit can dictate who carries the ball. Then, we have plays that counter that, that we can dictate who cares the ball. The guy that is going to carry it the most for us is going to be the B-back (fullback). That’s just always the way we have been. ”

Fullback Larry Dixon leads Army with 55 carries. Santiago is second with41. Baggett ranks third.

“You look at Paul Johnson’s teams and everybody that comes out of his coaching tree, it’s the same,” Monken said. “The B-back or the fullback is the guy that carries the ball the most and then the quarterback and then the slots. We have plenty of plays to try and get those guys (Baggett and Maples) the ball but you have to be good up the middle in this offense. It’s always been the philosophy. People are fans and they want to see us win. When you don’t they are frustrated because they are emotionally invested. They say, “Why can’t you pass more? or (why) can’t you get this guy the ball?’ I understand. We are doing everything we can to put our guys in a position to win the game and get the right guys the ball. This offense has stood the test of time. It’s been run for a long time. Coach Johnson has been doing it every year the same way since 1985 and it hadn’t changed and it’s still successful.”

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Wake Forest review: The flop

Army linebacker Steve Ricciardi and LeBron James were mentioned in the sentence.

A video of Ricciardi’s flop, trying to draw a 15-yard penalty late in Army’s 24-21 loss to Wake Forest, made it rounds on social media. Ricciardi took a dive after Wake Forest center Cory Helms barely touched him with his right arm.

ESPN released the video on its SportsCenter Twitter account. The tweet read, “This Army LB has a flop SO BAD it would even make LeBron James proud.” The dive was nominated for a SportsCenter Not-so Top 10 play.

Army’s football program was getting national press for the wrong reason.

Army coach Jeff Monken said he spoke to Ricciardi about the play.

“He apologized to me about it,” Monken said. “He’s trying to make a play at the end. There’s42 seconds to go.  And he’s trying to make something happen – a penalty, stop the clock, get them 15 yards, give us a better chance. He’s trying to win the game. It wasn’t malicious in intent. But, it’s not the way we are going to play the game here. I talked to him about that. That’s not being a good sportsman.”

Ricciardi politely declined comment about practice Monday.

“He’s trying everything he can think of and he doesn’t need to do that,” Monken said. “That’s not his job. His job is just do his job and that’s the case with everybody. Just play the fundamentals and technique you are taught, play your assignments and win the game. We didn’t do that and credit goes to Wake Forest. They did a good job and got it done.”

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Quick Sept. 22 practice blog

Usual Monday practice – no pads, fundamentals and conditioning.

The following players were in red (no-contact) jerseys: DE Mike Ugenyi (starter); RB Tony Giovannelli (starter); LB Addison Holstein; DE Andrew McLean; T Brett Toth; RB Lawrence Scott.

The feel-good moment of practice was when CB Chris Carnegie and LB Seth Combs were encouraging and running with Joe Tustin to finish the freshman’s conditioning run.

Senior running backs Terry Baggett and Raymond Maples stayed after practice for extra conditioning.

The offense did 35 up-downs for its efforts (mistakes) in a 24-21 loss at Wake Forest Saturday.

Punter Alex Tardieu was the only player wearing a Ranger jersey at practice. Ranger jerseys are given out for play in the previous game. Tardieu averaged 45.3 yards on four punts. Three of the punts were inside Wake Forest’s 20.

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Fun facts: Joe Walker TD pass

Sophomore running back Joe Walker threw Army’s first touchdown pass of the season, a 4-yard toss to Xavier Moss in the second quarter against Wake Forest.

Walker is the first Army running back to throw a touchdown since Marcellus Chapman hit Aris Comeaux with a 15-yard score against East Carolina on Oct. 5, 2002. Comeaux, a major in the Army, teaches calculus at West Point.

Walker’s pass was the first completed by an Army running backs since Carlton Jones connected with wide receiver Jeremy Trimble for 55 yards against UAB on Nov. 20, 2004. Trimble, Army’s all-time leading receiver, is in his first year as the admission liaison to the football team.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Quick thoughts: Wake Forest

I’ll get to the penalties, fumbles and onside kick.

But, first, a stone-cold fact. Army has not scored a point in the second half the past two games.

Army’s second half against Wake Forest started with the Black Knights using a timeout before they ran a play. Army fans have seen that before. That timeout could have come in handy at the end of the game when Army got the ball back with two seconds left and 69 yards to go.

No matter who is coaching and who lines up for Army, the Black Knights haven’t been a good road team. This is my eighth year covering the team. Army has won nine games away from Michie Stadium in those eight years. Four of those wins came in 2010, the Black Knights’ bowl year. Teams with bowl aspirations figure out a way the win game like Saturday’s at Wake Forest.

At the beginning of season, fans probably would have signed up for a 2-2 September. Army plays at Yale this Saturday. A game, it should win even if Yale scored 54 points against Lehigh in its opener Saturday. But, Army should be playing to equal its 2013 win total against Yale. The Wake Forest loss could be a game that costs Army a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl. The Black Knights need to win at least four of its next six games to stay on pace for bowl eligibility (six wins).

Now for the big penalty, center Matt Hugenberg and guard Stefan Moreau appeared to double team Wake Forest nose tackle Tylor Harris. The block was away from the play and is a 50-50 call that some crew will call immediately and others let go. The 15-yard penalty erased a scramble to the right by quarterback Angel Santiago on 3rd-and-5 and backed the ball to Army’s 41, where Santiago fumbled on the next snap. Wake Forest took over with 21-17 lead and 2:47 left.

Santiago was trying to make something happen on the 3rd-and-20 but he’s got to protect the football. Army had two timeouts left and punter Alex Tardieu had done a good job of pinning Wake Forest inside its 20-yard line.

Army’s first lost fumble looked like a good pitch from Santiago to running back Joe Walker. Don’t know if Walker took his eyes off the ball or not. But the ball just didn’t seem to find Walker’s hands on the pitch or the recovery. If Walker falls on the ball, at the least, Army sets up for about a 42-yard field goal by Dan Grochowski.

Speaking of field goals, Army attempted its first of the season at the end of the first half. A low snap seemed threw off Grochowski’s rhythm and the 40-yard kick went wide left. Another lost opportunity for points.

Some Army fans were probably puzzled by the Black Knights’ onside kick following their first touchdown. Coach Jeff Monken is always looking for an edge in the kicking game and he had scouted Wake Forest for that play. At the postseason press conference, Monken expressed disappointment in Army’s failure to recover the kick. From my view, Joey Giovannelli sled and tried his best to bring the ball in.

In Army’s first three games, I’m not sure I’ve seen the Black Knights boot the ball the same way on consecutive kickoffs. There’s been some shorter kicks and squibs. I expect coach Monken that pattern.

Joe Walker’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Moss off a sweep play surprised Wake Fores and was a wrinkle that I can see Army go back to in the future. When’s the last time an Army RB threw a touchdown pass? Click here.

Army’s defense had its good moments for the second straight game. But just fell a play or two short.

It looked like defensive coordinator Jay Bateman called the right blitzes in the second quarter to pressure Wake Forest freshman John Wilford. In the second half, the blitzer was less than a second off from hitting Wilford on a few occasions.

Sophomore linebacker Jeremy Timpf continued his strong play. He’s led Army in tackles in each of the first three games. Timpf was in the right place at the right time on his first career interception on a tipped ball.

Thought senior defensive end Mike Ugenyi could have been done for the game after being injured in second quarter. Ugenyi played hard in the second half. He tipped a third-down pass, which forced Wake Forest to punt on its opening drive of the second half. Ugenyi has three tackles in the second half. Wake Forest has 0 net yards on those plays.

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

 

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Looking ahead: How 2014 opponents fared in week 4

Army’s remaining opponents went 2-4 this week.

Kent State, Air Force and Western Kentucky had a bye.

The nine teams are a combined 11-18.

Yale (1-0, away, Sept. 27) W 54-43 Lehigh: Yale rolled up 683 yards of offense.

Ball State (1-3, home, Oct. 4) L 34-23 Toledo: Ball State has lost three games in a row. Ozzie Mann threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns and Jahwan Edwards rushed for 125 yards in loss to Toledo. The Cardinals have a bye this week before traveling to West Point on Oct. 4.

Rice (0-3, home, Oct. 11) L 45-42 Old Dominion: Rice almost rallied from a 28-14 halftime defecit. Darik Dillard rushed for three second-half touchdowns.

Kent State (0-3, away, Oct. 18) Idle: Play at Virginia Saturday.

Air Force (2-1, home, Nov. 1) Idle: Host Boise State Saturday.

UConn (1-3, at Yankee Stadium, Nov. 8) L 17-14 South Florida. Game was played in heavy rain. UConn’s Chandler Whitmer completed 6-of-9 passes for 88 yards in the loss. The Huskies netted just 132 total yards.

Western Kentucky (1-2, away, Nov. 15) Idle: Plays at Navy Saturday.

Fordham (3-1, home, Nov. 22) W 49-7 Columbia: Mike Nebrich threw for 435 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Tebucky Jones, Jr. had seven catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Fordham is averaging 51 points in its three victories.

Navy (2-2, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Dec. 14) L 31-24 Rutgers: Quarterback Keenan Reynolds threw for 231 yards and a touchdown and added two rushing scores but it was not enough for the Midshipmen, who trailed 24-14 at halftime. Navy’s defense allowed 281 rushing yards. Navy has lost five fumbles in its first three games. It lost six total last season.

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Halftime stats: Wake Forest

Army has rushed for 232 yards on 32 carries.

Quarterback Angel Santiago has 12 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown. Santiago’s career high is 120 yards in the 2013 season opener against Morgan State.

Fullback Larry Dixon has 62 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.

Senior Ray Maples has two carries for 37 yards. Terry Baggett three carries for 34 yards.

Army’s first touchdown pass of the season was thrown by a running back. Sophomore Joe Walker tossed a 4-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Xavier Moss. Moss has both of Army’s catches for 9 yards.

On defense, linebacker Jeremy Timpf has four tackles and an interception. Linebacker Steve Ricciardi has Army’s only sack.

Wake Forest freshman quarterback John Wolford is 13-fo-18 for 128 yards and a touchdown. He started the game completing eight of his first 10 passes.The Demon Deacons has rushed 10 times for 48 yards.

 

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Pregame blog: Wake Forest

Army will dress three quarterbacks -starter Angel Santiago, junior A.J. Schurr and freshman Ahmad Bradshaw.

Senior linebacker Julian Holloway ran onto the field with the Airborne flag in hand. Holloway hasn’t appeared in a game since suffering a leg injury against Air Force last November.

Freshman tackle Brett Toth, senior Lawrence Scott, freshman linebacker John Voit, freshman defensive end Andrew McLean and junior linebacker Dalton Mendenhall are among the players, who are not listed on the dress list.

Toth, Scott, Voit and McLean are injured and didn’t practice fully this week. Mendenhall, who started four games last season, hasn’t played in Army’s first two games. He practiced this week.

The following freshmen made the trip: Bradshaw, LB Alex Aukerman, LB Scott Washle; LB Tyler L’Hommedieu, RB Egbezien Obiomon, WR John Trainor, C Bryce Holland, G Jaryn Villegas, T Trey Ratliff.

For more on the Wake Forest game, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Pregame leftovers: Wake Forest

Army coach Jeff Monken said he and his defensive coaches have talked about moving senior safety and co-captain Geoff Bacon closer the the line of scrimmage.

Bacon played linebacker in his first two seasons at West Point and made 136 tackles his sophomore year.

“We can’t do that until we are sure that’s going to be the best move for our team,” Monken said. “If we feel like that’s going to be best for our team, then that’s what we will do.”

The move likely will not happened right away. The development of sophomore safety Steven Johnson, who made eight tackles in his first career start last week against Stanford, would be one of the factors.

“He’s getting better,” Monken said. “I think I’ve said before he’s maybe our most athletic guy back there. He’s played the least. He hasn’t been in games so he’s learning. As he learns, he’s going to improve. He’s going to get more comfortable. He’s going to play more physical and that will help him become a better player.”

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson’s thoughts on Army’s triple-option offense: “It is an absolute pain in the neck to defend. It’s not just triple option, he gets in so many different formations. There are so many different ways they probe you and find out how do you handle motion, how do you handle unbalanced. They’ll just run it, run it, run it, lull you to sleep and then the play action game is really effective. Again, he knows what he’s doing with that offense. So it’s a great challenge on defense to just get a line, much less play assignment football against all of the option that we’re going to see.”

Army senior nose guard Richard Glover talks about the Wake Forest game.

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Prediction time: Wake Forest

Army is a 2.5-point favorite at Wake Forest Saturday.

The Black Knights has lost seven straight games to Wake Forest and are 0-6 at BB&T Stadium.

Army was a 3-point home underdog when Wake Forest led by nose guard Nikita Whitlock’s 15 tackles defeated the Black Knights 25-11 last September at Michie Stadium.

Army is coming off a 35-0 loss at No. 16 Stanford. The Black Knights were last shutout in back-to-back game on Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, 2003 against South Florida and TCU.

Wake Forest’s defense and special teams have scored more touchdowns (1) than its running game.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 24, Wake Forest 20. Flip-a-coin game. A big game in Army’s season. If the Black Knights want to be a bowl team this season, they must find a way to win this game. A victory should guarantee the Black Knights a three-win September with a game at Yale next week. If Army’s offense comes out strong against the Demon Deacons, the defense should be able to contain a Wake Forest offense, which is still searching for answers scoring.

Predictions around the college football universe
Andrea Adelson (ESPN.com ACC blogger): Wake Forest 21, Army 20. Adelson says on ESPN.com, “The Deacs showed some signs of life on offense in the second half against Utah State a week ago. Now the trick is to limit the turnovers and get the run game going. The bet is that will happen this week against Army, which has a run defense that ranks 84th in the nation, allowing 176 yards per game. The Wake Forest defense has played well for the most part, ranking 17th in the nation in total D, and will do enough to slow down the Black Knights.
Jared Shanker (ESPN.com): Army 13, Wake Forest 10. 
Shanker says on ESPN.com. “It is not the sexiest matchup in Week 4, as both Army and Wake Forest have struggled in recent seasons. Army has not had a winning season since 2010, and Wake Forest is considered by many to be the worst Power 5 team in 2014. It isn’t as much a case of having confidence in Army as it is questioning what Wake Forest will bring to the table. Stanford shut out Army last weekend, but the Black Knights were able to score 47 points against Buffalo, a team much more comparable to Wake Forest than the Cardinal. Wake Forest is playing a true freshman at quarterback and Army has a more experienced player leading the offense, and I think that will be the deciding factor. This will be a game decided in the final four minutes.
Patrick Stevens (Syracuse.com): Wake Forest 21, Army 20. Stevens said on Syracuse.com, “Army doesn’t throw (12 pass attempts in two games) and Wake Forest cannot run (68 yards in three games). Which one-dimensional offense will survive? Good question.”
David Fox (Athlon Sports): Army 28, Wake Forest 10
Braden Gall (Athlon Sports): Wake Forest 21, Army 20
Steve Lassan (Athlon Sports): Wake Forest 24, Army 20
Mitch Light (Athlon Sports): Wake Forest 20, Army 13
Keith Jarrett (Citizen-Times, Asheville, N.C.): Wake Forest by 2

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato 

 

 

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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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