August 4 practice blog

Temperatures remained in the 90s during Army’s fourth practice of preseason camp.

Coach Jeff Monken called for water breaks and additionally set a five-minute period for the team to hydrate.

The hot weather could be prelude to Army’s first four games at Duke, home against Hawaii and Liberty and at Oklahoma.

“It’s going to be warm when we go to Durham (on August 31),” Monken said. “It’s going to be warm here on Sept. 8 and 15 at noon. It will likely be warm at Oklahoma. We got some early games where we need to be prepared for the heat.”

Had an engaging chat with defensive line coach Chad Wilt after practice for an upcoming feature on sophomore defensive end Edriece Patterson and life without three-year starter John Voit. Wilt said Patterson has the ability to play multiple positions like Voit did. Voit never came off the field for the Black Knights.

The depth on Army’s defensive line is improving. Monken mentioned Patterson and sophomore defensive ends Jack Hough and Ted Wages as players who have taken the next step physically.  As the unit broke practice Sunday, Wilt said he told his players, “I really see how we are going to play defensive line this year. I think it’s going to be by committee and getting multiple guys in there. Go play three, four or five plays really, really hard and then get some new guys in there and go play three, four or five plays really, really hard and after that, three more guys go out there and play really, really hard.”

One of the questions heading into camp was who was going to take over four-year starting safety Rhyan England’s role of lining up the defense. Senior safety James Gibson watched and learned under England.

“All safeties, that’s our job,” Gibson said. “We’ve been here studying that since we got here. We are not worrying about signal calling. We know what to do. Rhyan did a great job. He showed us how to do it and now we are showing the freshman how to do it.”

Sunday was the last day that Army held freshman and veterans practices. The team will start working together fully Monday.

Two freshmen – cornerback Akyah Miranda and wide receiver Mike Roberts – were bumped up to veterans practice. Monken said Miranda and freshman cornerback Caleb John practiced with the veterans Saturday. Freshman cornerback Julian McDuffie impressed during drills with the veterans on the first day of preseason camp. Coaches like what they’ve seen physically from Roberts, who is 6-3 and close to 220 pounds.

“Some guys that we saw that were standing out a little bit,” Monken said. “All those guys are prep school guys. They’ve had a year in the program. …I think it’s worth putting them in with some of the older guys just to see how they will respond and from a competitive standpoint how they are natured, if they are going to play like a veteran does and and they should because they were at the prep school.”

Practice observations: Army’s first-team offensive line seems to be settling in with center Bryce Holland, Alex Herndon and Austin Schuffert at tackle and Jaxson Deaton, Mike Johnson and Jack Sides getting snaps at guard. The second-team offensive line was Will Huff at center, JB Hunter and Nick Stokes at tackle and Noah Utley and Jake Baumert at guard. …Safeties Luke Cameron and Mike Williams picked off passes during freshman practice.

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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