Pregame blog: Rice

Senior running back Raymond Maples is out with an injury today.

Army is dressing two quarterbacks – senior Angel Santiago and junior A.J. Schurr – today.

Santiago took first-team snaps with center Matt Hugenberg during warmups.

Junior tight end Kelvin White will be the third string/emergency quarterback.

Senior guard Steve Shumaker is listed among the starters. Shumaker came off the bench and played 67 of 74 snaps against Ball State last week. Shumaker had started 28 straight games.

Senior safety Geoff Bacon will miss his second straight game with a leg injury.

Victor Ugenyi, a 2009 Army captain, is attending the game to watch his brother, Mike, a senior defensive end. Mike McElrath, Army’s all-time leading tackler, and Joel Davis, a Army 1995 captain, are also in attendance.

Grace Cashman, the daughter of Yankees general manager, and senior cadet Danny Trainor, the son of West Point dean Tom Trainor, will sing the National Anthem today.

For game updates, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Pregame leftovers: Rice

Here are some notes and quotes haven’t made it to print or digital this week prior to Army’s home game against Rice Saturday.

Jeff Monken put in a call to his cousin Todd Monken, Southern Mississippi’s head coach, for a scouting report on Rice.

Southern Mississippi played Rice on Sept. 27. Rice won 41-23.

“He said they have a good football team and they play really hard,” Jeff Monken said. “He’s got a lot of respect for Rice and so do we. They have a great season last year, won 10 games and are well-coached. He’s (David Bailiff) done a great job of turning that program around, turning them into a conference champion and a well-respected football team.”

Monken said Rice’s 2-3 record, “is not indicative of the type of football team they are.”

Rice opened the season 0-3. The Owls lost 48-17 loss at then-No. 17 Notre Dame. Rice was defeated by then-No. 7 Texas A&M 48-10 in College Station and fell to Old Dominion 45-42.

“They lost to Old Dominion by three and those guys light up the scoreboard,” Monken said. “They score a lot of points. We played Old Dominion in the playoffs twice at Georgia Southern in 2011 and 2012. That quarterback (Taylor Heinicke) is a dynamite player.”

Sophomore fullback Aaron Kemper has emerged as an out of Army’s backfield the past two games. Kemper had a 74-yard run at Yale and scored his second career touchdown on a 9-yard burst against Ball State last week.

“He’s (Kemper) doing a good job,” Monken said. “He’s got really good feet. He’s not a burner speed-wise. He just has really good vision. He’s done some good things out in practice and he’s earned the opportunity to get out there. We’ve given him a chance to do that he’s done a nice job.”

Army offensive coordinator Brent Davis said on coach Monken’ s weekly radio show that said the team is running more designed handoffs plays to slotbacks Terry Baggett and Raymond Maples than he has in the past.

“We are trying to make sure the right guys have the ball and that’s something that we have to continue to work on every week,” Davis said. “We made add a wrinkle here and there to try and get those guys the ball because they both have had 1,000-yard seasons. They have both done great things here so we have to find a way to involve them.”

VIDEO: Junior center Matt Hugenberg on Army’s offensive line play.

For game updates, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato

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Prediction time: Rice

At last check, Army was a 1.5-point home favorite against Rice Saturday.

Both teams enter the game at 2-3. Army can leave the game at .500 with its postseason aspirations alive. or take a major hit on its bowl chances.

The Black Knights are looking to open the season 3-0 at home for the first time since 2007. Army’s looking to post back-to-back wins for the first time in 50 games, dating back to 2010.

Rice coach David Bailiff looks to defeat a member of the Monken family for the second time in three weeks. Rice defeated Southern Mississippi and Todd Monken, Army coach Jeff Monken’s cousin, 41-23 on Sept. 27.

Monken hasn’t named a starting quarterback for this game. My educated guess is senior Angel Santiago will get the start over A.J. Schurr after his play last week.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 38, Rice 34. Another game that could be determined by the home field. Army players and coaches rallied around each other and its fans for a 33-24 win over Ball State last week.Both of these teams should move the ball against each other’s defense. Could come down to another time-consuming fourth-quarter drive for the Black Knights.

Predictions from around the college football universe
Brian Pedersen (Bleacher Report): Army 30, Rice 28
Whatifsports: Rice 26, Army 20

For game updates, follow me on Twitter @salinterdonato


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Who played on defense: Ball State

Six Black Knights – linebackers James Kelly, Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf, cornerbacks Chris Carnegie and Josh Jenkins and safety Steven Johnson, plays all 51 downs in Army’s 33-24 win over Ball State.

Only five reserves including freshman defensive end John Voit and freshman safety Alex Aukerman saw action.

Army blitzed on eight of 24 pass-rushing opportunity. The Black Knights sent three additional pass rushers once and sent two five times.

Here’s a breakdown of the defensive snaps:

*CB Chris Carnegie (51 snaps)
*CB Josh Jenkins (51 snaps)
*S Steven Johnson (51 snaps)
*James Kelly (51 snaps)
*LB Andrew King (51 snaps)
*Jeremy Timpf (51 snaps)
*LB Steve Ricciardi (50 snaps)
*S Hayden Pierce (49 snaps)
*NT Richard Glover (43 snaps)
*DE Mike Ugenyi (41 snaps)
*DE Joe Drummond (34 snaps)
DE John Voit (17 snaps)
NT T.J. Atimalala (8 snaps)
DE Jordan Smith (6 snaps)
DE Ryan Alexander (3 snaps)
S Alex Aukerman (2 snaps)

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Who played on offense: Ball State

Army ran 74 plays in a 33-24 win over Ball State.

Senior quarterback Angel Santiago, who entered the game in the second quarter, played 52 snaps. Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr, who started the game, played 22 snaps, all in the first quarter.

Senior left tackle Corey Hobbs, junior center Matt Hugenberg and sophomore right guard Colby Enegren were the only offensive players to play all 74 snaps. Enegren was starting his first game. Senior right tackle Todd McDonald missed one play because he had his helmet knocked off. Right tackle Mike Houghton was the only freshman, who played on offense. Houghton played the one snap that McDonald missed.

Army took 67 of its snaps under center and seven from the shotgun.

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps on offense:

RG Colby Enegren (74 snaps)
LT Corey Hobbs (74 snaps)
C Matt Hugenberg (74 snaps)
LT Todd McDonald (73 snaps)
LG Steve Shumaker (67 snaps)
WR Xavier Moss (62 snaps, 0 catches)
FB Larry Dixon (61 snaps, 28 carries, career-high 188 yards)
RB Terry Baggett (56 snaps, 5 carries 64 yards)
QB Angel Santiago (52 snaps, 13 carries 89 yards, 1 touchdown, 2-of-3 passing, 48 yards)
RB Tony Giovannelli (44 snaps, 6 carries, 35 yards)
WR Edgar Poe (43 snaps, 1 catch, 37 yards)
RB Raymond Maples (40 snaps, 4 carries, 16 yards, 1 catch, 11 yards)
QB A.J. Schurr (22 snaps, 5 carries, 15 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0-of-2 passing)
TE Kelvin White (22 snaps, 0 catches)
WR Chevaughn Lawrence (12 snaps, 0 catches)
FB Matt Giachinta (7 snaps, 4 carries, 8 yards)
LG Stefan Moreau (7 snaps)
FB Aaron Kemper (6 snaps, 2 carries, 10 yards, touchdown)
RB Joe Walker (5 snaps, 1 carry, 2 yards, lost fumble)
WR DeAndre Bell (3 snaps, 0 catches)
RT Mike Hougton (1 snap)
TE Eddy Ruzga (1 snap, 0 catches)

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


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Inside the numbers: Kickoff returns

Josh Jenkins vowed this season to break Army’s seven-year drought of returning a kickoff for a touchdown.

Jenkins, a sophomore cornerback, didn’t come through on his promise against Ball State Saturday but he had Army’s longest kickoff return since 2010.

Jenkins’s 39-yard return in the first quarter was three yards shy of a 42-yarder by Josh Jackson against Tulane on Oct. 9, 2010.

Army hasn’t had a kick or punt returned for a touchdown since Sept. 29, 2007. Corey Anderson (kickoff) and Jeremy Trimble (punt) has touchdown returns in the same game against Temple.

The Black Knights have been held without a score in their last 474 kickoffs and 345 punts.

Jenkins, who also returns punts, gets another shot at ending the streaks against Rice Saturday.

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

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Geoff Bacon update

Army will be without senior safety and co-captain Geoff Bacon for at least, “a couple of weeks to a few weeks,” coach Jeff Monken said.

Monken said Bacon has a small break in the lower part of his right leg. Bacon sustained the injury during a tackle in the third quarter against Yale on Sept. 27. Bacon, a four-year starter who ranks 17th on Army’s all-time tackle list with 279, did not play in the team’s 33-24 win over Ball State on Saturday.

“They are going to let that heal up,” Monken said. “Fortunately, I think it’s one (injury) where we will get him back before the season is out.  We love to have him but right now he’s going to be out. Our trainers have given us great hope that he’s going to be back in a couple to a few weeks.”

Army hosts Rice this Saturday and travels to Kent State on next Saturday before a bye week.

Could Bacon make his return for a Commander in Chief’s trophy game against Air Force on Nov. 1 at Michie Stadium?

“If it will be that soon, then great, but I don’t know if it will be that soon or not,” Monken said. “We’ll see.”

Monken said senior defensive end Joe Drummond will be honorary captain until Bacon returns to the field. Drummond joined captain Larry Dixon for the coin toss against Ball State.

“He (Drummond) was the senior that would have been next in line in terms of votes to be captain,” Monken said.

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

Could Bacon return for Army’s Commander in

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Quick thoughts: Ball State

Thought Army was heading toward another late-game collapse when Ball State cut the lead to 27-24 with eight minutes and change left in the game.

Give quarterback Angel Santiago, fullback Larry Dixon, running back Terry Baggett and Army’s offense credit for stringing together a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which ate up 5 minutes and one second. Dixon kept the chains moving on two 3rd-and-2s. Baggett broke off a big 39-yard run. Santiago scored on an 11-yard touchdown run. One of the drive’s key plays was the first snap when Raymond Maples gained 7 yards up the middle, setting up a 2nd-and-short.

Dixon tied a career-high with 28 carries and rushed for a career-high 188 yards. Eleven of Dixon’s carries went for first downs.

My colleague Will Montgomery asked me during KnightCap if Army has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Santiago came off the bench for the second straight game after starting the first three games of the season and operated the offense well. Junior A.J. Schurr started his second straight game and was pulled after the first quarter by coach Jeff Monken. Monken said Schurr was having issues with ball security and missed wide-open receiver on a deep route off play action. I think Monken is going to go with his gut feeling. Whoever practices the best during the week will probably start. If the starter isn’t getting the job done in the game, Monken showed on Saturday he won’t hesitate to make a change. Santiago has played smart and hasn’t hurt the team with a turnover. After Saturday’s win, I would think Santiago will return as Army’s starter.

Some fans were getting on Monken for going for it on 4th-and-goal from Ball State’s 2 leading 20-10 on Army’s opening drive of the second half. Santiago was originally awarded a touchdown run that was overturned when replay showed his knee hit the turf at the 1-yard line. Monken said Santiago should have walked in but a blocking assignment was missed. Opting to not kick a field goal “takes point off the board.” But, Army’s defense forced Ball State to punt on its next possession and the Black Knights punched one into the end zone in its next drive on a 9-yard run by Aaron Kemper.

Guard Steve Shumaker saw his 28-game starting streak snapped but the senior came off the bench and played a good portion of the game. Shumaker was able to block to the second level on some big Army runs.

Another bend but don’t break effort by the defense. Junior cornerback Chris Carnegie’s strip and recovery of a Jahwan Edwards fumble was a huge play that the Black Knights needed early. Jeremy Timpf’s interception on what would be Ball State’s final play was clutch. But, the defense still gives up too many big plays and still has difficulty playing and tackling in space. Edwards gained 117 of his 142 yards on three carries.

Army’s special teams averted two disasters.

Junior Jared Rogers should be recognized for alertly falling on a muffed punt return by Josh Jenkins early in the second quarter.

Army received a break when it appeared a Ball State punt glanced off the shoulder of freshman Alex Aukerman, who was on the return team.

Army is a +2 in turnover margin through its first five games.

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


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Postgame Ball State

Some video clips from Army coach Jeff Monken, linebacker Jeremy Timpf, quarterback Angel Santiago and fullback Larry Dixon after the Black Knights’ 33-24 win over Ball State.



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KnightCap: Ball State

Will Montgomery and I break down Army’s 33-24 win over Ball State.

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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