Slotback debate continues

It’s become a weekly question.

Why aren’t senior slotbacks Terry Baggett and Raymond Maples, both 1,000-yard rushers in their Army careers, more involved in the offense?

Baggett has gone from 142 carries in former coach Rich Ellerson’s triple-option offense to 44 carries in first-year coach Jeff Monken’s triple-option system.

Maples, currently the sixth-leading rusher in academy history, has 38 carries as a fifth-year senior. He started the season with 439 career attempts.

Baggett and Maples combined for five carries in a 52-24 loss at Western Kentucky last week.

“It’s not because we’re not trying to get them involved,” Monken said during his Tuesday press conference. “We are doing the best we can within our system to get the guys the ball that give us the best chance to win. I think the things that we are doing are much more option based which makes the quarterback make decisions on every play. Certainly, people can align their defense to say we can take away two of those phases and try to make one guy carry the ball. Our fullback and quarterback have probably carried it more than our slot backs.

“That is typical over the years of us running this offense. The slots have been the guys who have carried it the least, but they have been the guys who have had the largest yards per carry average. I think every program I have been a part of over the years, by the time I left, we had a slot back set a school record for yards per carry for the season and career. We are not getting those numbers right now but I am confident that as we go and we get better at doing it, we will get the numbers that we want.”

Slotbacks in Monken’s offense, which is based on current Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s triple option, typically are smaller, faster runners. Baggett (6-foot, 217 pounds) and Maples (6-1, 220) are much bigger, physical backs.

The conversation/debate could go on and on. Are getting the most out of the talent of Baggett and Maples? Should the new coaching staff have adjusted its offense to get more production from its two seniors?

Monken was more in-depth after his press conference.

“They ran a lot of plays where the quarterback would turn around and hand off the ball (last year),” Monken said. “That’s not us. We’re an option-based football team now. They won three games last year turning around and handing off the them. We won three games this year running our offense. So, there’s not much difference. It’s just what we do and what we believe is going to be important for us to have success as we build the program. It’s the same as we did at Georgia Southern and it’s the same as we did at Georgia Tech, Navy and Hawaii and every place that we’ve run this.”

Sure, Army fans, were hoping to see Baggett and Maples featured more in the team’s final two games. They have to hope the seniors make the most of the touches that they do get. Baggett is averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Maples is at 6.4.

I must admit from watching preseason practices, I thought Baggett would have a larger role in the offense. I predicted Baggett to have a bigger season than his junior year, where he rushed for 1,113 yards and eight touchdowns. Boy, I was wrong.

While we are on the topic of slotbacks, watching senior Trenton Turrentine knock down multiple defenders on a 16-yard run, his only carry against Western Kentucky, brings up another question. Why has Turrentine carried the ball just nine times this season?

Guess, you can revert to the top. Coach Monken has also said earlier this season Turrentine was having some difficulty grabbing the offense.

Here’s some numbers to take in: Army slotbacks Baggett, Maples, Turrentine, Tony Giovannelli and Joe Walker have combined for 134 carries. Fullbacks Larry Dixon, Matt Giachinta and Aaron Kemper have 218 combined carries and quarterbacks Angel Santiago and A.J. Schurr have 197 total carries.

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




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