March 24 practice blog

Army returned to the practice field after a 11-day layoff.

Sophomore running back Joe Walker didn’t sense any of his teammates were going through the motions or were lethargic Tuesday.

“As a group, I feel like we got right back to where we needed to be,” Walker said… “Overall, I thought we came back solid. Some of the guys worked on stuff over the break. You could tell some of the guys ran, worked out and stayed in shape over the break. We came back and hit the ground running just like we did (on March 12, Army’s first spring practice).”

Walker said he lifted twice last week while on spring break. He and about eight of his teammates worked out together while enjoying some fun in the sun.

“We went out together and ran a couple of miles each day and tried to stay active,” Walker said. “We knew how important it was to stay active and work out over the break especially after last year because we didn’t necessarily do that and we felt it on the first day that we came back. So this year, we definitely had to do that…On the beach, we were horsing around playing with a football. It was a little workout in itself. I guess that counts.”

Army coach Jeff Monken said he’s anxious to see his team’s next two practices – Thursday (in shoulder pads) and Saturday (in full pads). Saturday’s practice will consist of 10-15 minutes of a “live” hitting and full contact.

“The other times, we will go the entire practice where we are tackling and blocking below the waist would be the last three Saturdays and one being the spring game,” Monken said. “The rest (of the practices) will have modified scrimmages. We need all the drill work and we need the teaching time. But, the competition and just lining up to block somebody and play a block, that’s good and we have to do that too.”

Former wide receiver Xavier Moss lined up with the first-team defense at safety. Saturday is a big day for Moss in his transition on defense.

“When we start hitting, that will be big,” Moss said. “I’m ready for that. That’s what I’m waiting for.”

Moss said he checked out video on his iPad from his first practice at safety while on spring break.

“I was just looking at the stuff I needed to work on,” Moss said. “I figured out what I was doing work on the first day and I was a lot more comfortable with my backpedal, making my reads quicker and shuffling faster. It was a lot better.”

Practice observations: Sophomore quarterback Matt Kaufmann, who is working with the first team, connected with Edgar Poe over the middle…Freshman linebacker Scott Washle picked off a short pass by Seth Gonzales intended for Jeff Ejekam…Sophomore safety Tevin Long practicing full…Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr, junior cornerback Chris Carnegie and freshman guard Jaryn Villegas among the players not participating in practice…Newburgh Free Academy graduate Steven Johnson working as a first-team cornerback along with sophomore Josh Jenkins. Jenkins was quick to a short pass completed to Poe and forced an incompletion to tight end Kelvin White.

A couple of position changes I may have missed from the first practice: sophomore Sean McBryde has moved from linebacker to tight end. Freshmen defensive linemen Dan Carlone and Jake Vaughn are now on offense.

Some of the position changes are being made with the incoming freshmen in mind. Monken told me after Army’s first spring practice on March 12 that the coaching staff has a board where the future Army players are slotted at their position for the 2015 team.

Sophomore Chasen Brown, a linebacker his first two seasons, continues to get his share of snaps at fullback. With the loss of Larry Dixon, the academy’s fourth all-time leading rusher, to graduation, Monken is looking for some depth behind junior Matt Giachinta and sophomore Aaron Kemper.

“We just didn’t think at linebacker that he (Brown) was going to beat some of those guys out in front of him,” Monken said. “Just trying to find a place where guy can contribute and best benefit the team and have a chance to play…Chasen runs well. When he runs straight ahead, he runs really well. It’s just going to be a matter if he can figure out and if he can handle the ball-carrying skills. Just taking care of the ball and catching the ball. We’ll see.”

Monken on Army’s quarterbacks through two non-contact practices: A.J (Schurr) is not in there and he’s the one with game experience and he can’t practice. Matt (Kaufmann, sophomore) played on the scout team all last year and he’s finding out that it’s probably a little tougher of a transition back to running our offense without a card. On the scout team if he threw a pick or did something wrong, there was nobody to belly ache at him. We got (Ahmad) Bradshaw and (Seth) Gonzales and it’s almost like they are learning again for the first time.”

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

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