This preseason feels much different than last August.
Jeff Monken, a tough but fair coach, and his staff have picked their spots to lighten up practices.
Friday’s practice was no different.
After the team finished its stretching, Monken called his players to the entrance of Howze Field.
Monken told the team that West Point superintendent Robert Caslen was test-riding his motorcycle down below at Michie Stadium. The coach led the entire team in a rush to greet Caslen, the academy’s commanding officer.
Caslen stayed to watch practice. At one point, wide receiver Edgar Poe split out wide and asked Caslen if he was lined up to the football. Caslen nodded his head, “Yes.”
Army finished practice with players lining up between the 10-15-yard line trying to hit the goal post with passes.
Sitting out practice (shells, helmets and shoulder pads): NT T.J. Atimalala; DE Eddy Ruzga; G Jaryn Villegas; LB Blake Goddard; RB Christian Drake; LB Will Dunavant.
Quarterback talk: Monken said sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw has earned “the opportunity” to run the first-team offense in Saturday’s scrimmage. Senior A.J. Schurr will work with the second team at least to start. Bradshaw continues to flash his speed running the football. Schurr looked pretty comfortable running Army’s hurry-up offense. He completed his first three passes in the simulated session. “We are still two weeks away from the first game and it’s shaking itself out,” Monken said. “The good thing is I think both of those guys can play. I think Ahmad and A.J. can play for us.”
Depth chart: Not much changing on the two-deep. Freshmen slotbacks Jordan Asberry and Tyler Campbell alternated in with the first team in Joe Walker’s spot. Looked like Walker, who has been battling injury, participated in individual drills but not much if any team work.
Catch of the day: Freshman safety Gibby Gibson closed practice with an interception of Ahmad Bradshaw in traffic.
Practice observations: Sophomore John Trainor, freshman Jordan Asberry and junior Tevin Long took turns returning kicks…Freshman Nick Schrage was providing the kickoffs. Almost every one was fielded near the 5-yard line…A.J. Schurr connected with Trainor on a short route…Bradshaw found Deandre Bell near the sideline…Freshman slotback Nick Black went up and twisted in mid air to make a catchIt was Trivia Time at “Muscle Beach,” where injured players work with Army’s strength and conditioning coaches. The category was movies. The questions from Tim Caron, Will Greenberg and Darren Mustin varied from what Christina Applegate’s first movie, name three movies directed by Clint Eastwood and what state “Field of Dreams” was based in.
VIDEOS: Nose tackle Ray Wright, one of the team’s emerging freshman. Defense hitting the bags.