KnightCap: Miami (Ohio)

“Shoot, you think your heart was hurting,” Army coach Jeff Monken said to the media after his team’s breathtaking, 31-30 double-overtime win over Miami (Ohio).

Here’s a quick recap of the Black Knights’ 10th straight victory at Michie Stadium.

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Pregame blog: Miami Ohio

Starting quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, starting safety James Gibson and starting wide receiver Kjetil Cline will miss today’s game against Miami (Ohio) with injuries.

Earlier in the week, coach Jeff Monken said Hopkins, who has started Army’s first six games of the season, has been fighting a hip injury sustained early in the season.

Sophomore quarterback Cam Thomas will make his first start.

Gibson, who has an upper-body injury,  left Army’s 52-3 win over San Jose State last week.

Army is thin at slotback as sophomore Artice Hobbs is out. Sophomore slotback Fred Cooper was recently suspended from the team. Junior Malik Hancock and sophomore Zach Boobas are backups behind Kell Walker and Jordan Asberry.

Junior linebacker Amadeo West is dressed and could see action for the first time since the 2016 season. Monken said earlier in the week that he hoped West could be ready for Air Force on Nov. 3 or maybe Eastern Michigan next week.

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Prediction time: Miami Ohio

Army is a 7.5-point home favorite against Miami Ohio Saturday at Michie Stadium.

The Black Knights look to extend their home winning streak to 10 games.

Army has won five straight home games against Mid-American Conference teams.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer):Army 31, Miami 17. The Black Knights are a little banged up but still should have enough on both sides of the ball to end Miami’s two-game winning streak. The game pits Army’s No. 2 rushing game vs. Miami’s run defense. ranked 32nd in the country (123.7 yards/game). The Redhawks have allowed two 100-yard rushers in seven games this season. Army’s defense has not allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 165 yards in the last three games. Miami Ohio quarterback Gus Ragland has seven touchdowns and one interception in his last four games.

Predictions from across the college football universe
Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): Army -7.5. Palm says on CBS Sports, “Army is one of the best teams against the spread at 5-1 so far this season. A big part of that is competing against teams that are not used to playing against their style of offense. Another factor is that, for most of the season, the Black Knights are an interruption in the conference schedule for teams. The Redhawks have a game against Buffalo next for first place in the division
Mitch Light (Athlon Sports): Army 31, Miami 18. Light says on Athlon Sports, “Army has won its last two games, at Buffalo and vs. San Jose State in Santa Clara, by a combined score of 94–20. Jeff Monken has not gotten enough credit for the job he is doing at Army.”
Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Army 35, Miami 24
The Power Rank: Army has an 81 percent chance of winning

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Notebook: Amadeo West inching toward season debut

One of nation’s rising defenses could be getting a boost soon.

Linebacker Amadeo West is working toward a return to the field after missing the 2017 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. West was upgraded from no-contact to limited during practice this week. The junior suffered an achilles injury while rehabbing in the spring and his status for this season was uncertain. West was a projected 2017 starter before his ACL injury.

“Probably another couple of weeks,” Army coach Jeff Monken said of West’s return. “We are hoping for Air Force (Nov. 3). It could be Eastern Michigan (next week). But, we are hoping for Air Force. He’s been practicing and kind of working up to this point. We really are shooting for Air Force. We didn’t know if he would be ready at all. I didn’t know if he would be ready to play this season at all. He’s worked really, really hard.”

West would play SAM linebacker, a hybrid position which is also used as a defensive lineman in certain schemes. Senior Chandler Ramirez and sophomore Edriece Patterson have split snaps at SAM in Army’s five-defensive-back base defense.

Sophomore Nick Stokes and sophomore Ted Wages have switched sides of the ball. Stokes has moved from offensive tackle to the defensive line. Wages, a scout-team defensive lineman, is now playing tight end.

“Both of them were kind of buried on the depth (chart),” Monken said. “They are both hard-working kids that really care. We want to try to give them a place where they can contribute to the team. I think it will be a good move for both of them. Jay (Bateman, Army’s defensive coordinator) had asked about Stokes a few weeks back and we thought, ‘He’s coming along. We’ll see if he could do something.’ He just couldn’t climb out of that third spot. It gives him a little fresh life. They start to feel like, ‘Gosh, I just can’t back out of this rut that I’m in.’

“Ted was on the scout team. We needed another tight end with (Jake) Lauer hurt. I don’t think Nick was a good fit at tight end but he can play inside on defense and Wages is athletic enough and has the body type to play tight end.”

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Tuesday Takeaways: Miami Ohio week

Army hit the midway point of the season with a 4-2 record for the third straight season.

When Jeff Monken was asked if Army is where he wants his team to be, he said, “No. I’d like to be 6-0 and I’d like to playing absolutely perfect football and not making any mistakes and not missing any tackles and not missing any blocks. We’re still doing those things.

“We still have a lot of things that we can improve on. Hopefully, that’s something that we will continue to chip away at. It’s gotten better over the course of the season from the Duke game until now, the fundamental things. But, we are still not perfect. We will keep working on it.”

Monken said sophomore slotback Fred Cooper has been suspended from the team indefinitely. Cooper, who had started three straight games, did not travel with the team to San Jose State Saturday. For more on Cooper’s suspension, click here.

Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins’ running, throwing and leadership were lauded by Monken during his weekly press conference. Hopkins’ toughness can’t be undervalued. After getting banged up on Army’s fourth play at San Jose State Saturday, Hopkins returned on the next series. Hopkins rushed for three touchdowns and threw a 41-yard score in the Black Knights’ win.

“He’s a tough kid and a tough kid,” Monken said. “I really believe that this environment here at West Point breeds toughness in people. They’ve got a lot that is asked of them every day and all year long and their entire experience here and we are very demanding about toughness in our program. You either got it or you don’t last probably. He has it. He’s a tough kid at that position and what we are asking him to do. You watch Ahmad (Bradshaw) do it all last year. They take a pounding and he’s done a good job.”

Monken said he hopes Hopkins can make his seventh straight start of the season Saturday against Miami (Ohio).

“He had that hip (injury) early in the year maybe the Duke game or Liberty game it was really bothering him,” Monken said. “I’m not sure that he’s really been 100 percent since then.”

The Malicious Offensive Brotherhood, also known as Army’s offensive line, received national acclaim Tuesday. Bryce Holland, Austin Schuffert, Jaxson Deaton, Peyton Reeder and JB Hunter were one of 14 offensive lines named to the Joe Moore Award mid-season honor roll. The award is given to the nation’s best offensive line. Army is ranked second in the nation in rushing behind a line with Holland as the only returning starter.

“I definitely think it’s well-deserved,” Reeder said of the recognition. “The hours and hours of work that we’ve put in, it was definitely something we were happy to see.”


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Prediction time: San Jose State

Army is a 15-point road favorite against winless San Jose State Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.

Army is favored for the third time in six games this season. The Black Knights are coming off a bye. Army has won its last five games when it has more than a week to prepare.

Army and San Jose State have one common opponent. The Black Knights defeated Hawaii 28-21 on Sept. 15 at Michie Stadium. San Jose State fell 44-41 in five overtimes to Hawaii two weeks later.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 41, San Jose State 20. Don’t expect the cross-country trip to slow down Army’s third-ranked rushing attack. San Jose State allows 39.2 points per game, tied for 120th in the country.

Predictions from across college football universe
Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): Army -14.5. Palm writes on CBS Sports, “San Jose State has trouble playing defense, and while it is worse against the pass than the run, Army is tough to defend. There will be a lot of pressure on the Spartans offense to keep up, especially since they will not have as many possessions with it as they are used to. The Black Knights are one of the more reliable teams against the spread because people underestimate how tough they are to play against.”
Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Army 34, San Jose State 20
Mitch Light (Athlon Sports): Army 38, San Jose State 14

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Defense Breakdown: Buffalo

Junior safety Jaylon McClinton and senior cornerback Mike Reynolds played all 55 snaps in 42-13 win over Buffalo on Sept. 29.

Here’s a breakdown: (55 defensive snaps as charted off replay):

*S Jaylon McClinton (55 snaps): 5 tackles, 18th career start
*CB Mike Reynolds (55 snaps): 3 tackles, 2 pass breakups, .5 tackle for loss,
*LB James Nachtigal (53 snaps): 5 tackles, 15th career start
*LB Cole Christiansen (50 plays): 7 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 QB hurry, 18th career start
*S James Gibson (50 snaps): 1 tackle, 22nd career start
*S Max Regan (50 snaps): 3 tackles, 9th career start
*CB Elijah Riley (50 snaps): 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, 21st career start
*NT Ray Wright (44 snaps): 4 tackles, 14th career start
*DE Wunmi Oyetuga (36 snaps): 1 blocked field goal, 16th career start
*LB Kenneth Brinson (31 snaps): 1 pass breakup, 37th career start
*LB Chandler Ramirez (27 snaps): 4 tackles, 5th career start
DE Edriece Patterson (29 snaps): 1 tackle
LB Jeremiah Lowery (23 snaps): 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
DL Jacob Covington (21 snaps)
S Cameron Jones (6 snaps)
#DL Kwabena Bonsu (5 snaps)
CB Javhari Bourdeau (5 snaps)
#S Cedrik Cunningham (5 snaps): 4 tackles, .5 tackle for loss.
LB Ryan Parker (5 snaps): 2 tackles (special teams)
LB Joe Stephenson (3 snaps)
#LB Arik Smith (2 snaps): 1 tackle, .5. tackle for loss.
* – starter
# – freshman

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Offense Breakdown: Buffalo

Thirty-one offensive players took snaps in Army’s 42-13 win over Buffalo on Sept. 29.

Army did not fumble for the four straight game, extending its streak to 288 straight carries without losing the ball.

Right guard Dean Powell and wide receiver Mike Roberts were the only freshmen to play on offense.

Army took just two of its 69 plays from the shotgun.

Milestones: Darnell Woolfolk moved into 18th place (1,729 yards) on Army’s all-time rushing list. The senior fullback’s 27 career rushing touchdowns are tied for sixth with Ahmad Bradshaw.

Rushing yards by quarter: First quarter – 65 yards; Second quarter – 54; Third quarter – 32; Fourth quarter – 116.

Possessions - 9. Touchdowns – 5. Turnovers – 1. Punts – 1. Three-and-outs – 1. Drives of seven of more plays – 4. Longest drive – 13 plays, 81 yards, 7 minutes, 44 seconds, third/fourth quarter, touchdown (Darnell Woolfolk 2-yard run).

Third-down conversions: 9-of-14. Fourth-down conversions: 3-for-3. Army is 16-for-18 on fourth down this season.

Time of possession: Army 40 minutes, 14 seconds; Buffalo 19 minutes, 46 seconds.

Average starting field position: Army 27

Calen Holt, 5 yards, first quarter (2nd of season, 3rd career)
Connor Slomka, 3 yards, second quarter (4th of season, 8th career)
Darnell Woolfolk, 2 yards, fourth quarter (4th of season, 27th career)
Luke Langdon, 27 yards, fourth quarter (1st of season, 2nd career)
Jordan Asberry, 25 yards, third quarter (1st receiving TD of season, 3rd career receiving TD)
Special teams
Elijah Riley, 80-yard blocked field goal return, second quarter (1st season, 2nd career)

20+ yard plays: 4. Cam Harrison (37 yards, catch); Luke Langdon (27 yards, run); Jordan Asberry (25 yards, catch); Calen Holt (22 yards, catch)

Negative-yardage plays: 3. (Kelvin Hopkins sack, Jordan Asberry run, Kell Walker run)

Triple-option distribution:  Quarterbacks (Kelvin Hopkins, Luke Langdon, Cam Thomas) 23 carries, 133 yards, TD; Fullbacks (Darnell Woolfolk, Calen Holt, Connor Slomka, Sandon McCoy) 32 carries, 128 yards, 3 TDs; Slotbacks (Kell Walker, Jordan Asberry, Fred Cooper) 9 carries, 20 yards

Penalties: 2. Intentional grounding (Kelvin Hopkins); Cut Block (Peyton Reeder)

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps (69 plays as charted off DVR):

*LG Jaxson Deaton (61 snaps): 10th career start
*C Bryce Holland (61 snaps): 31th career start, 31st straight start
*QB Kelvin Hopkins (61 snaps): 19 carries, 89 yards, 4-for-5 passing, 91 yards, TD, INT, 5th career start
*RT JB Hunter (61 snaps): 5th career start
*RG Peyton Reeder (61 snaps): 4th career start
*LT Austin Schuffert (61 snaps): 6th career start
*SB Kell Walker (43 snaps): 4 carries, 12 yards, 21th career start
TE Quinten Parker (41 snaps)
*SB Fred Cooper (31 snaps): 1 carry, 0 yards, 3rd career start
SB Jordan Asberry (30 snaps): 4 carries, 8 yards, 1 catch, 25 yards, TD, 1 target
*FB Darnell Woolfolk (28 snaps): 14 carries, 58 yards, TD, 16th career start
SB Artice Hobbs (25 snaps):
*WR Cam Harrison (24 snaps): 1 catch, 37 yards, 1 target, 7th career start
*Kjetil Cline (21 snaps): 1 catch, 7 yards, 1 target, 2nd career start
WR Glen Coates (21 snaps):
FB Calen Holt (18 snaps): 2 carries, 6 yards, 1 catch, 22 yards, 1 target
WR Christian Hayes (17 snaps):
FB Connor Slomka (15 snaps): 13 carries, 52 yards, TD
TE Zach Saum (11 snaps)
C Alex Herndon (8 snaps)
RT Luke McCleery (8 snaps)
LT Jeff Panara (8 snaps)
#RG Dean Powell (8 snaps)
FB Sandon McCoy (7 snaps): 3 carries, 12 yards
SB Malik Hancock (5 snaps)
LG Mike Johnson (5 snaps)
QB Cam Thomas (5 snaps): 2 carries, 13 yards
FB Andy Davidson (3 snaps):
QB Luke Langdon (3 snaps): 2 carries, 31 yards, TD
LG Noah Utley (3 snaps)
#WR Mike Roberts (2 snaps):
* – starter
# – freshman

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Bye Week Blog

How many Division I head coaches jump into a special teams rep during a bye week?

Jeff Monken.

When players weren’t performing a footwork drill like Army’s coach wanted them, Monken demonstrated the proper technique.

“I wanted to at least try my best and I’m not a great athlete,” Monken said. “I’m a D3 guy so they didn’t get a great look but just what we wanted in terms of angles, action and effort.”

Senior safety Max Regan says Monken wants the team to prepare as if they have a game Saturday.

“These practices count toward the season and us getting better,” Regan said. “We are still really practicing hard and trying to get better for the rest of the season.”

Monken said Army is using the bye week to concentrate on a game plan for the team’s next game at San Jose State on Oct. 13 and review some concepts and schemes from preseason camp that have not been worked on in detail. The offense is reviewing the different defensive schemes that it hasn’t seen this season including the Bear 46 defense. Monken said the defense has started working on a plan to defend the option again. Army had cut back on its CIC (Commander in Chief’s) practice periods with live cut-blocking and tackling to the ground. “It was so physical and so competitive that guys were getting nicked up.” Monken said.

Army has scheduled a bye week in late October before the Air Force game in four of the last five seasons. The Black Knights play at Eastern Michigan the week before it hosts Air Force on Nov. 3

“We don’t have two weeks to prepare for Air Force like we normally do,” Monken said of returning to defending-the-option reps.

Contrary to popular belief, Jordan Asberry said his 25-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of Army’s 42-13 win at Buffalo Saturday was intended for him. Wide receiver Glen Coates was running stride for stride with Asberry on the play.

“If I would have bobbled it a little or anything, I know that my man Glen would have been right there to catch it next to me,” Asberry said.

Asberry said coming off a win during the bye week gives Army, “a lot of momentum.”

“We know that propels us forward,” Asberry said. “We look forward to each week and with this week being a bye, we aren’t going to take our foot off the gas. We come out here with a tenacious effort and intensity. We know we don’t have a game this week but we can’t take any days off, any plays off.

“We know that will translate into our next game. One of our goals is to be 1-0 every week. I think that starts with essentially being 1-0 at every practice and every play. You have to take it one play, one rep, one practice, one day, one week at a time. We are trying to focus on this week alone and getting better this week. We go back and look at what we can correct from today and we’ll have to improve on that tomorrow.”


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Postgame Buffalo: Kelvin Hopkins, Wunmi Oyetuga, Elijah Riley, Darnell Woolfolk

Army junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, senior defensive lineman Wunmi Oyetuga, junior cornerback Elijah Riley and senior fullback Darnell Woolfolk comment after Black Knights’ 42-13 win at Buffalo

Kelvin Hopkins
On getting fullbacks going
“That’s where our option starts. Just getting that fullback going and getting the line of scrimmage moved. The MOB (Malicious Offensive Brotherhood, offensive line), they were really big on getting the fullback going all  week. That was something that they really talked about wanting to do. Just to get that fullback going and get some confidence with Darnell and them knowing they could get four or five yards a pop any time that they wanted to. That was big moving the line of scrimmage and getting on schedule early in drives.”

On key to keeping drives alive
“Just to go at them. We had to attack. We know they have an explosive offense. We just wanted to stay on the field as long as possible.”

On touchdown pass to Jordan Asberry in the third quarter
“It’s just something we practice. It’s a base play for us as far as passing goes. It was just execution. Jordan ran a great route to get open. The offensive line gave me time to make it happen. It was just something we do every day in practice, a play that we practice all of the time. It was just execution.

On bouncing back from first-drive interception
“Coach (Monken) always talks about not flinching. When things don’t go your way, you can’t get down on yourself. You got to go back out there and play for your teammates. You got to understand you can’t get upset over the mistakes you made because there’s a bunch of guys that count on you. Especially at quarterback, you have to be able to bounce ball, face adversity and recover. My biggest thing was letting it go and getting back out there and playing for the team.”

Wunmu Oyetuga
On field goal block returned for touchdown in second quarter
“That play was primarily a team effort. We had Ray Wright with a great push up front that opened up a gap. It allowed me to step up and tip the ball. Elijah Riley came off the edge and the ball went right to him. Immediately, he took off down the field. It was a great team play all around.”

On the defense holding Buffalo without points on Bulls’ second drive
“I think on that drive we were really settled into the game atmosphere. We knew what to expect. We have a great plan coming in. The coaches did a great job. It really showed in that drive.

On bouncing back from overtime loss at Oklahoma
“It’s a great feeling. It just shows all of the work that we’ve been putting in over the summer and over the first few games. It shows throughout the entire time that we are ready to go each week and we are ready to show the teams that we are playing against that we are ready to go.”

Elijah Riley
On defense responding after Buffalo’s first drive
“Obviously, we made a mistake on the drive but we recuperated. Coach (Jay) Bateman got us together and said to get our heads straight and we kept on pushing.”

On returning blocked field goal for touchdown
“I just landed right in my hands. Tuga (Wunmi Oyetuga) did a great job of getting to the ball. The line made a great push. It landed in my hands and I just had to run. That’s all.”

On bouncing back from overtime loss at Oklahoma
“The Oklahoma game was in the past as soon as we got on the bus. It was Buffalo from then on out and we couldn’t anything from that game linger going forward. We couldn’t let it beat us twice.”

Darnell Woolfolk
On fullbacks success
“(Brent Davis, Army’s offensive coordinator) is always saying that we want to start with the fullback because it opens up the rest of our playbook. The offensive line took good control. We were able to establish the fullback, Connor (Slomka), Calen (Holt) and myself. That’s due to the offensive line getting a great push.”

On offensive line’s play
“I love our o-line. I think they are getting better and better every week. They are really stepping up their game no matter what the situation is.”

On Kelvin Hopkins’ development
“He’s gained a lot of confidence since the start of the season. I think it helps our offense a lot. He’s not scared to go in there and run the ball. He can also pull up and throw. He’s very versatile and it helps our offense a lot.”

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    Sal Interdonato

    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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