Quick Thoughts: Armed Forces Bowl

Ten days after Army’s record-scoring Armed Forces Bowl pasting of Houston, the Black Knights are one of 14 teams to win 11 or more games this season.

Army should finish inside the top 20 in the final Associated Press and Coaches polls after its academy-record 11th win. The Black Knights’ 9-game winning streak will be the nation’s second-longest when the 2019 season starts behind the winner of the Alabama-Clemson national championship game.

Make not mistake about it, the 70-14 victory over Houston was a statement game. The performance for the ages put college football and all of doubters on notice. James Nachtigal told me he and the Black Knights had no doubt that they were leaving Amon G. Carter Stadium with a win long before kickoff.

Houston fired head coach Major Applewhite Sunday more than a week after Army’s destruction.

Houston’s defense provided little resistance early and I remember saying Army could score 70 points in this game in the second quarter.

Also remember saying James Nachtigal would break Josh McNary’s sack record of four. Nachtigal came up a half-sack short of tying McNary’s mark. Houston’s offensive line had no answer for the relentless blitzing by interim defensive coordinator John Loose. Freshman quarterback Clayton Tune was running for his life most of the game.

No word on if Loose has been promoted to defensive coordinator but he certainly made a strong case.

Eight different players had a hand in Army’s school-record 10 sacks.

Kelvin Hopkins’ 77-yard touchdown run, which could have and should have been stopped at the line of scrimmage, was one of the plays of the year. Hopkins (170 yards) may have hit 200 rushing yards if he didn’t leave the game with a shoulder injury in the third quarter. Hopkins punctuated a superb season becoming the first Army quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season. I’ll have more on Hopkins’ place in the record books in a future blog.

Up 56 points, Monken and his staff coached to the last play, calling a timeout with 10 seconds left. Jake Ellington and Joe Stephenson combined to sack Clayton Tune for the 10th time, a fitting ending.

Army’s 70 points tied a record for all bowl set by West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl. It was the most points scored by Army against a team that is currently Division I-A ever.

 

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Pregame blog: Armed Forces Bowl

Junior slotback Kell Walker will not dress for the Armed Forces Bowl due to a violation of team rules, per Army football radio.

Sophomore Artice Hobbs is expected to start in Walker’s place. Army was already thin at slotback. Senior Calen Holt, who had shifted from fullback to slotback when sophomore Fred Cooper was suspended, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in practice before the Army-Navy game.

Walker is Army’s third-leading rusher with 320 yards on just 67 carries.

Walker’s absence means more snaps for Hobbs and junior Malik Hancock.

Kelvin Hopkins needs 44 yards to become the first Army quarterback to throw for 1,000 yards in a season since Carson Williams in 2007.

Senior cornerback Mike Reynolds is questionable. Sophomore Javhari Bourdeau could start in Reynolds’ place. Senior Jalen Sharp, a 2017 starter, could also see playing time.

Safeties coach John Loose takes over calling plays as Army’s interim defensive coordinator.

Senior slotback Jordan Asberry, senior linebacker Kenneth Brinson and senior punter Nick Schrage joined Cole Christiansen, Bryce Holland and Darnell Woolfolk as game captains.

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Prediction Time (Armed Forces Bowl): Houston

Army is up to a 6-point favorite against Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl Saturday.

When asked about playing the role of favorite on his radio show Friday night, Jeff Monken said, ‘If people think we are a 5.5-point favorite over a talented team like Houston, they are delusional. This is a great football team, a very talented team, a top 25 team earlier in the year. They had some injuries that caused them to have not as much success later in the year as they likely would had. I think they are a great football team.

“I promise you the guys on our team understand who we are. We are probably a favorite because we won a few games here down the stretch but if you look at our games a lot of them have been close where we just have to slug it out, hang on and try to win. That’s exactly what it’s going to take for us tomorrow for us to do that. We don’t look at the lines. That doesn’t make any difference for us when we go play a game.

“If somebody said, ‘What’s the point spread tomorrow,’ I wouldn’t have the first idea. I know who they have on the other side and it’s going to take our best effort to beat them.”

Army (10-2), ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll and 25th in the Coaches poll, is riding an eight-game winning streak entering its third straight bowl game. The Black Knights have not lost a game in three months (28-21 overtime loss at Oklahoma, Sept. 22). A win would be Army’s school-record 11th

Houston (8-4) was ranked as high as 17th before dropping three of its last four games. True freshman quarterback Clayton Tune will make his second career start in place of D’Eriq King. Houston will be without all-American defensive lineman Ed Oliver and cornerback Isaiah Johnson, who both elected not to protect their NFL draft stock.

Army enters with the nation’s No. 2 rushing attack at 296.3 yards per game. While, Houston ranks 98th in stopping the run (197.1 yards). The Cougars have allowed 219 points in their four losses.

Houston averages 46.4 points per game but will the Cougars be that prolific without King and against an Army defense, which has allowed three touchdowns over its last three games?

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 31, Houston 17. Originally thought this could be a tight game but after losing count of how many times Army coach Jeff Monken complimented Houston as a talented team during his Friday press conference, get the feeling that this is a confident Army team focused on winning its 11th game and securing its first final Top 25 ranking since 1996. Army’s recipe for victory is no secret – possess the football, keep its defense fresh and create a turnover or two.

Predictions from around the college football universe
Ben Kercheval (CBS Sports): Army -3.5. Kercheval writes on CBS Sports, “The Black Knights run the triple option and do it well. They lead college football with 766 rushing attempts (nearly 64 rushes per game), and while time of possession isn’t normally a pertinent stat, they’re also No. 1 in that category as well at 38:50 per game — nearly four minutes more than the next team. Playing Army is a grind and even with time to prepare, can Houston’s defense stop this immovable object?”
Nicholas Ian Allen (Athlon Sports): Houston 28, Army 27.
Nick Bromberg (Yahoo Sports): Army 28, Houston 27
Sam Cooper (Yahoo Sports): Army 35, Houston 30
Pat Forde (Yahoo Sports): Army 34, Houston 28
Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Army 38, Houston 31

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Army Football Podcast: Armed Forces Bowl edition

Eight years ago, Steve Anderson helped Army to a 16-13 win over SMU in 2010 Armed Forces Bowl and was named the game’s most valuable player.

The MVP trophy remains one of Anderson’s prized possessions.

Anderson reflects on his Armed Forces Bowl memories, breaks down Army’s quest for 3-0 record in the Fort Worth bowl against Houston Saturday, discusses former Army teammate Ali Villanueva voted as Pro Bowl starter and connects current center Bryce Holland with past linebacker Adisa King on the latest edition of the Army Football Podcast.

 

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Holland, Woolfolk, Brinson, Christiansen, Reynolds, Riley named to Phil Steele All-Independent first-team

Tis’ the season for my annual rant on Phil Steele’s all-Independent team.

Army, looking to put the finishing touches on its best season in 60 years, landed just six players – senior center Bryce Holland, senior fullback Darnell Woolfolk, senior linebacker Kenneth Brinson, junior linebacker Cole Christiansen, senior cornerback Mike Reynolds and junior cornerback Mike Reynolds – on Steele’s all-Independent first team. Brinson was listed as a defensive lineman.

There are six independent teams: No. 22 Army, No. 3 Notre Dame, Liberty, BYU, UMass and New Mexico State. Only Army (10-2) and Notre Dame (12-0) have winning records. BYU (6-6) plays in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (I always wanted to type that) Friday. Notre Dame had 11 first-teamers including four out of five specialists.

Senior linebacker James Nachtigal, who leads Army’s defense, ranked ninth nationally in total yards, with 81 tackles and five sacks, is a second-team selection.

Junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins was a second-team pick behind Notre Dame’s Ian Book. Can certainly make an argument that Hopkins was equally important to Army as Book was to Notre Dame’s success. Hopkins has rushed for a team-high 847 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hopkins’ 956 passing yards are the most by an Army quarterback since Trent Steelman’s 995 in 2010. Book has thrown for 2,468 yards and 19 touchdowns and added 250 yards and four touchdowns.

Army’s offensive line was named among the nation’s 15 best by the Joe Moore Award voters. The Black Knights were only deserving a one first-team offensive lineman from a unit, which has helped Army rank No. 2 nationally in rushing. Junior guard Jaxson Deaton and senior tackle Austin Schuffert were named to the second team.

Nachtigal was the lone second-team selection from Army’s defense. Junior safety Jaylon McClinton, senior safety James Gibson and senior nose tackle Ray Wright were left off the list. If statistics were taken into consideration, McClinton and Gibson’s tackle numbers are skewed due to Army’s offense dominating time of possession. Opponents have ran an average of 51 plays per game against Army.

Senior kicker John Abercrombie and Reynolds (punt returner) made the second team.

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Signing Day: Deep QB class

No super surprises for Army on early national signing day.

Aledo (Texas) offensive lineman Cameron Callaway announced on social media that he was committed to the Black Knights. Callaway was a Harvard commit.

According to my count, five quarterbacks – Cade Ballard (Tennessee), Maurice Bellan (New Jersey), Aliyah Curtis (Ohio), Alex Meredith (South Carolina) and Dedrick Wilson (Texas) – signed their certificate of commitment. The certificates are non-binding.

Harrisburg (Pa.) safety Kane Everson flipped from Army to William & Mary.

Former Army commit Dillon Gabriel, Hawaii’s all-time passing leader, signed with Central Florida.

The following high school seniors signed with Army:

OL Tino Arcuri, 6-2, 265, Boardman HS, Youngstown, Ohio: Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Bowling Green.
K Andrew Bagley, 5-10, 160, James I. O’Neill HS, Highland Falls, N.Y.
QB Cade Ballard, 5-10, 195, Greeneville (Tenn.) HS: Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Georgia Southern, Tulane, Middle Tennessee State.
OL Dayton Baugh, 6-3, 255, Beechwood HS, Fort Mitchell, Ky.
QB Maurice Bellan, 5-10, 178, Peddie School, Hightstown, N.J.: First offer – Army. Other offers – Navy, Air Force.
OL Connor Bishop, 6-3, 270, Archbishop Wood HS, Warminster, Pa.
OL Cam Callaway, 6-2, 270, Aledo (Texas) HS: Former Harvard commit
S Jimmy Ciarlo, 6-3, 190, St. Joseph Regional HS, Montvale, N.J.: Other offers – Syracuse, Old Dominion.
RB Clayton Cribb, 5-10, 210, North Lincoln HS, Denver, N.C.
QB Alijah Curtis, 5-9, 180, McKinley HS, Canton, Ohio
TE Simon Dellinger, 6-6, 225, Snider HS, Fort Wayne, Ind.: First offer – Army. Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Ohio,
TE Trace Dorminy, 6-4, 220, Camden County HS, Kingsland, Ga.
DL Isaiah Filisi, 6-3, 245, St. Louis HS, Honolulu, Hawaii
LB Peyton Hampton, 6-2, 227, Davie HS, Mocksville, N.C.
T Lachlan Holt, 6-3, 270, Richmond Hill (Ga.) HS
DT Gerald Irons, 6-2, 260, Klein Oak HS, Spring, Texas: Other offers – Air Force, Oklahoma State, Indiana, Boston College, Kansas, North Texas, UTEP, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe.
WR-TE Ryan Jackovic, 6-5, 205, Quaker Valley HS, Leetsdale, Pa.
LB Spencer Jones, 6-1, 215, Vandegrift HS, Austin, Texas: Other offers – Air Force
K Tyler Keltner, 6-foot, 155, Chiles HS, Tallahassee, Fla.
TE Ben Koch, 6-6, 240, Austin (Texas) HS
DE Tyler Komorowski, 6-4, 240, Weir HS, Weirton, W.Va.: Other offers – Michigan (preferred walk-on), Kent State.
OL Boobie Law, 6-4, 275, Pike HS, Indianapolis, Ind.
RB Justin Lescouflair, 5-10, 175, Freeport (N.Y.) HS: First offer – Army.
OL Nate Mahoney, 6-3, 250, Lincoln-Way West HS, New Lenox, Ill.
S Deryan McDonald, 6-foot, 210, Choate Rosemary Hall HS, Wallingford, Conn.: First offer – Army.
FB Nick Mell, 6-foot, 212, Stone Bridge HS, Ashburn, Va.: Other offers – Navy
QB Alex Meredith, 6-foot, 185, A.L. Hanna HS, Anderson, S.C.: Other offers – Navy, Coastal Carolina
DL Etuate Moala, 6-3, 270, JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
TE Paxton Nayman, 6-5, 235, Creekview HS, Canton, Ga.
CB Boris Nicolas-Paul, 5-10, 175, Hillside (N.J.) HS: Other offers – Buffalo.
CB Kolubah Pewee, 5-11, 160, Tottenville HS, Staten Island, N.Y.: Former Fordham commit
WR Ridge Polk, 5-10, 170, Cambridge HS, Milton, Ga.: Other offers – Air Force.
LB Brady Sheehan, 6-1, 210, Redlands East HS, Redlands, Calif.: Other offers – Utah State, Hawaii
FB Cole Truex, 6-2, 226, Marin Catholic HS, Kentfield, Calif.: Other offers -  Navy, Air Force (COMMITTED, June 7)
S Fabrice Voyne, 6-2, 195, Xavier Prep, Palm Desert, Calif.: Other offers – Utah State, BYU
DB Maxwell Williams, 5-10, 180, Millbrook HS. Raleigh, N.C.: Other offers – Appalachian State
RB Shacori Williams, 5-10, 205, Many (La.) HS.
QB Dedrick Wilson, 6-1, 195, Kenedy (Texas) HS
TE Garrett Woodall, 6-5, 210, West Forsyth HS, Cumming, Ga.

For a gallery of Army football signing day click here.

If you would like to have your signing day photos posted on Twitter, please direct message your photos to me @salinterdonato.

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Recruiting: California Committing

St. Louis (Hawaii) defensive lineman Isaiah Filisi announced his commitment to Army on the eve of early signing day.

Filisi recently received an offer from the Black Knights following an unofficial visit to West Point.

Army dipped into California for three of its latest commits following the Army-Navy game.

Offensive lineman David Hayward (Monte Vista), linebacker Brady Sheehan (Redlands East Valley) and safety Fabrice Voyne (Xavier Prep) joined Army’s 2019 recruiting class.

Sheehan visited West Point before attending the Army-Navy game.

“Army has shown me that they are recruiting me as more than a player, but as a person,” Sheehan said. “They want me there because they view me as the quality of character they would like to have around. And playing football for a much bigger purpose reminds me what I still play the sport for. There is no option better for me.”

Voyne said attending the Army-Navy game, “was a once-in-lifetime experience. So excited to play in that soon.”

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound safety, who had offers from BYU and Utah State, said the combination of academics, athletics and the prestige of West Point were the differences in his decision.

“I want to be a part of that tradition and no other school fits it better,” Voyne said.

Army received a commitment from Mount Carmel (Ill.) long snapper Patrick Szczesniak posted his commitment to Army Monday. Szczesniak, who had offered from Purdue and Iowa State, is ranked the 20th-best long snapper of the 2019 class by Rubio Long Snapping.

Belfry (Ky.) offensive lineman Dagen Rash decommitted from Army and committed to in-state Kentucky.

St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Matt Akuchie recently announced his decommitment from Army. Akuchie committed in September.

Here’s an updated commitment list heading in the first signing day on Wednesday (* – have posted online that they will sign their certificate of commitment Wednesday):

2019 Army football commits (54)

LB Tanner Addams, 6-3, 210, Monacan HS, Richmond, Va.: First offer – Army. Attended 2018 Black & Gold Game.
OL Tino Arcuri, 6-2, 265, Boardman HS, Youngstown, Ohio: Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Bowling Green. (COMMITTED, Dec. 9)
K Andrew Bagley, 5-10, 160, James I. O’Neill HS, Highland Falls, N.Y. (COMMITTED, Nov. 15)
QB Cade Ballard, 5-10, 195, Greeneville (Tenn.) HS: Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Georgia Southern, Tulane, Middle Tennessee State.
OL Dayton Baugh, 6-3, 255, Beechwood HS, Fort Mitchell, Ky.: (COMMITTED, August 1)
QB Maurice Bellan, 5-10, 178, Peddie School, Hightstown, N.J.: First offer – Army. Other offers – Navy, Air Force. Hudl profile – 4.46 40-yard dash (COMMITTED, June 28)
OL Connor Bishop, 6-3, 270, Archbishop Wood HS, Warminster, Pa.
LB Jalen Brooks, 6-foot, 220, Cardinal Gibbons HS, Raleigh, N.C.: Other offers – Navy
S Jimmy Ciarlo, 6-3, 190, St. Joseph Regional HS, Montvale, N.J.: Other offers – Syracuse, Old Dominion. (COMMITTED, April 13)
DE Reed Chandler, 6-4, 240, Conley HS, Greenville, N.C.: Other offers – Coastal Carolina (COMMITTED, July 27)
RB Shacori Collier, 5-10, 205, Many (La.) HS.: (COMMITTED, May 9)
*RB Clayton Cribb, 5-10, 210, North Lincoln HS, Denver, N.C.: Other offers – (COMMITTED, May 22)
*QB Alijah Curtis, 5-9, 180, McKinley HS, Canton, Ohio: First offer – Army (COMMITTED, July 29)
*TE Simon Dellinger, 6-6, 225, Snider HS, Fort Wayne, Ind.: First offer – Army. Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Ohio (COMMITTED, July 28)
*TE Trace Dorminy, 6-4, 220, Camden County HS, Kingsland, Ga.: Tight end MVP at Army prospect camp. First offer – Army (COMMITTED, July 28)
S Kane Everson, 5-10, 170, Harrisburg (Pa.) HS: Scored 11 touchdowns, threw for three scores and made 50 tackles as a junior.
DL Isaiah Filisi, 6-3, 245, St. Louis HS, Honolulu, Hawaii: (COMMITTED, Dec. 18)
RB Bruno Forestieri, 5-11, 225, St. Pius X HS, Houston, Texas: Other offers – Air Force (COMMITTED, July 15)
RB Keiran Grant, 5-11, 175, Cuero (Texas) HS: Other offers – Texas State (COMMITTED, July 27)
*LB Peyton Hampton, 6-2, 227, Davie HS, Mocksville, N.C.
T David Hayward, 6-4, 235, Monte Vista HS, Danville, Calif.: Former Montana State commit. (COMMITTED, Dec. 14)
RB Connor Holmes, 5-10, 183, Sayreville (N.J.) HS: (COMMITTED, Oct. 24)
T Lachlan Holt, 6-3, 270, Richmond Hill (Ga.) HS: Attended Knight On The Hudson, July 27 (COMMITTED, July 28)
DT Gerald Irons, 6-2, 260, Klein Oak HS, Spring, Texas: Other offers – Air Force, Oklahoma State, Indiana, Boston College, Kansas, North Texas, UTEP, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe (COMMITTED, June 28)
*LB Spencer Jones, 6-1, 215, Vandegrift HS, Austin, Texas: Other offers – Air Force. (COMMITTED, July 27)
K Tyler Keltner, 6-foot, 155, Chiles HS, Tallahassee, Fla.
*TE Ben Koch, 6-6, 240, Austin (Texas) HS: 2017 stats – 28 catches, 363 yards, 4 TD (COMMITTED, August 1)
DE Tyler Komorowski, 6-4, 240, Weir HS, Weirton, W.Va.: First-team all-state defensive end and pitcher. Also plays quarterback. Other offers – Michigan (preferred walk-on), Kent State. (COMMITTED, July 29)
OL Boobie Law, 6-4, 275, Pike HS, Indianapolis, Ind.:  (COMMITTED, Nov. 2)
RB Justin Lescouflair, 5-10, 175, Freeport (N.Y.) HS: First offer – Army. (COMMITTED, Nov. 25)
LB-S Cole Mabry, 6-2, 190, Iowa City West HS, Iowa City, Iowa: Other offers – Iowa State (COMMITTED, July 29)
DB Michael Mack, 6-2, 180, Bullis HS, Potomac, Md.: Other offers – Air Force, Rice
*OL Nate Mahoney, 6-3, 250, Lincoln-Way West HS, New Lenox, Ill.
S Deryan McDonald, 6-foot, 210, Choate Rosemary Hall HS, Wallingford, Conn.: First offer – Army (COMMITTED, July 29)
QB Alex Meredith, 6-foot, 185, A.L. Hanna HS, Anderson, S.C.: Other offers – Navy, Coastal Carolina (COMMITTED, June 6)
*FB Nick Mell, 6-foot, 212, Stone Bridge HS, Ashburn, Va.: Other offers – Navy (COMMITTED, May 21)
DL Etuate Moala, 6-3, 270, JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.: (COMMITTED, Oct. 20)
TE Paxton Nayman, 6-5, 235, Creekview HS, Canton, Ga.: (COMMITTED, Nov. 15)
CB Boris Nicolas-Paul, 5-10, 175, Hillside (N.J.) HS: Other offers – Buffalo (COMMITTED, June 27)
QB Christian Parrish, 5-10, 200, Prince Avenue Christian HS, Bogart, Ga.: Other offers – Air Force, Georgia Southern (COMMITTED, June 28)
DL Dylan Perez, 6-2, 275, Columbus HS, Miami, Fla.: Other offers – Navy, Air Force, Miami (preferred walk-on), Buffalo, Florida Atlantic. (COMMITTED, Nov. 6)
CB Kolubah Pewee, 5-11, 160, Tottenville HS, Staten Island, N.Y.: Former Fordham commit (COMMITTED, August 7)
WR Ridge Polk, 5-10, 170, Cambridge HS, Milton, Ga.: Other offers – Air Force. (COMMITTED, July 12)
OL Carson Shaffer, 6-3, 280, Prosper (Texas) HS: Other offers – Air Force. (COMMITTED, July 28)
LB Brady Sheehan, 6-1, 210, Redlands East HS, Redlands, Calif.: Other offers – Utah State, Hawaii (COMMITTED, July 12)
DB D’Andre Tobias, 5-10, 170, Benedictine Prep, Richmond, Va.: First offer – Army. Other offers – Navy, Air Force
FB Cole Truex, 6-2, 226, Marin Catholic HS, Kentfield, Calif.: Other offers -  Navy, Air Force (COMMITTED, June 7)
S Fabrice Voyne, 6-2, 195, Xavier Prep, Palm Desert, Calif.: Other offers -
*DB Maxwell Williams, 5-10, 180, Millbrook HS. Raleigh, N.C.: Other offers – Appalachian State
QB Dedrick Wilson, 6-1, 195, Kenedy (Texas) HS: (COMMITTED, March 28)
LB Davis Wofford, 6-foot, 225, Robinson HS, Little Rock, Ark.: (COMMITTED, August 1)
*TE Garrett Woodall, 6-5, 210, West Forsyth HS, Cumming, Ga.: Other offers -  (COMMITTED, July 11)
DL Billy Wooden, 6-2, 280, Calvert Hall HS, Baltimore, Md.: First offer – Army. (COMMITTED, Dec. 5)

Commits by state: Texas (7); Georgia (6);  California (5); North Carolina (5); New Jersey (4); New York (3); Virginia (3); Illinois (2); Indiana (2); Florida (2); Maryland (2); Ohio (2); Pennsylvania (2); Arkansas (1); Connecticut (1); Hawaii (1); Iowa (1); Kentucky (1); Louisiana (1); South Carolina (1); Tennessee (1); West Virginia (1).

Players signing on Wednesday, if you would like to have your signing day photos posted on Twitter, please direct message your photos to me @salinterdonato.

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Monken names John Loose interim defensive coordinator, DC interviews start after Armed Forces Bowl

Safeties coach John Loose will be Army’s defensive coordinator in the Armed Forces Bowl, Jeff Monken said after the team’s first practice for the postseason Saturday morning.

Loose, a veteran assistant who was Lafayette’s defensive coordinator for 14 seasons before rejoining Army’s staff in 2014, will call plays against Houston, which has scored 41 or more points in 10 of its 12 games this season.

“John will do a great job,” Monken said. “We have a bunch of good coaches.”

Monken refuted an ESPN report that he was hiring former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Nate Woody to succeed Jay Bateman as the Black Knights’ defensive signal caller.

Woody was the first candidate that Monken interviewed for Army’s defensive coordinator when he was named head coach in December 2013.

“Somebody sent me congratulations (on hiring Woody) and I said, ‘For what,’” Monken said. “I haven’t talked to anybody about the job. I saw Nate Woody’s name pop up. I interviewed Nate for the job 5 years ago.”

Monken said he will not talk to any defensive coordinator candidates until after the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 22.

“It would just be a distraction for everybody else,” Monken said. “It would be a distraction for me. I have a team to prepare. That’s the most important thing.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. It might be John or it might be somebody from outside.”

Loose helped Rhyan England make a smooth mid-season transition from slotback to safety in 2014. England started for the next three and half years. Loose assisted in the transition of Xavier Moss from wide receiver to safety in 2015 and 2016. He has recently tutored James Gibson, Jaylon McClinton and Max Regan as playmakers in Army’s defense, which is ranked ninth in total defense.

Bateman was announced as North Carolina’s co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Sunday. Earlier in the week, Monken said he wasn’t sure if Bateman would coach in the bowl game. Bateman has started recruiting for North Carolina and has moved on.

“I think coach (Mack) Brown and North Carolina is very fortunate to get him,” Monken said of Bateman. “It’s a great opportunity for him. It’s a lot closer to home for he and his wife and just an opportunity professionally. It’s an outstanding program with a Hall of Fame coach and a chance to start anew and build something.

“That’s really fun in this profession and I suppose in a lot of professions. To take something that maybe is a little bit broken or not as good you think it can be and turn it into something special. That’s what has been so special about this experience here and Jay has been a huge part of that. He was a huge, huge part of this team’s success over the last three years and building this program both as a defensive coordinator and as a recruiter.”

Senior linebacker James Nachtigal said the bowl game will feel, “a little different,” without Bateman on the sidelines but the Black Knights have enough leadership and coaching to overcome the loss.

“He left us with a foundation,” Nachtigal said. “He built a lot of this defense. Now, he put us to a point where we can carry on by ourselves. The other coaches got it handled. They just tell us what to do and we’ll do our jobs.”

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Notebook: Reynolds, Black Knights on mend, bowl practice schedule

Mike Reynolds left it all out on the field in Army’s 17-10 win over Navy.

Coach Jeff Monken said the senior cornerback was in the training room after the game, getting treatment after his interception and three pass breakups in the victory.

“He had about three different things that were bothering him after the game,” Monken said earlier this week. “This week will be good. We are only going to lift and those guys come over on their own in between studying.

“They are preparing right now for finals and really cramming for those exams. We are going to let them have the week to rest and get ready, get in the training room. The lifting will help work out some of the soreness and kinks. That was a physical game on Saturday.”

Army will hold its first practice since the Army-Navy game on Saturday morning. The Black Knights will practice Sunday night and Tuesday morning before departing for Fort Worth, Texas and the Armed Forces Bowl. Monken said Army will likely practice Wednesday (special teams heavy) and possibly Thursday. While, Houston, Army’s Armed Forces Bowl opponent, hasn’t played since Nov. 23.

“We have all of our sights set on Houston,” Monken said. “They are a great team. Very talented. It will be a great challenge. They’ve had essentially four weeks to get ready for the bowl game and we would have had 4 days of practice before we play the game. Four days and four weeks is a big difference. …We essentially could get five practices in.”
Players begins final exams Friday night. Exams continue Saturday at noon, Saturday night, Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon and Monday night, Monken said.

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Bateman’s status for Armed Forces Bowl unclear

Army coach Jeff Monken said he is not sure whether departing defensive coordinator Jay Bateman will coach the Black Knights in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 22 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bateman, who was announced as North Carolina’s co-defensive coordinator Sunday, is out on the road recruiting for the Tar Heels and head coach Mack Brown.

“We’ll have to see how this plays out,” Monken said Tuesday night. “Right now, I don’t anticipate him being a part of it. We certainly would welcome him coming back and being a part of the last game for this season.”

Monken said he’s decided on an interim defensive coordinator if Bateman, one of five finalists for the Broyles Award as the assistant coach of the year, does not coach in the bowl game.

“But, I’m not going to say until I know Jay is not coming back,” Monken said, whose team will return to practice Saturday.

Bateman’s Army defense held Navy to its lowest point total in an Army-Navy game since 1987 with a 17-10 victory Saturday. Army forced four turnovers in the win.

Bateman played an integral role in Army’s rise over the last three winning seasons. Army allowed 14 points or less in 17 of its 28 wins over the three-period stretch. The Black Knights have won five straight service-academy games over Navy and Air Force, allowing an average of 10.8 points per game.

“He (Bateman) made such a difference in our success, the culture of our program, the attitude and the culture of the defense with the way they played and the intensity and the belief,” Monken said. “He’s a great problem solver on game day. He’s really imaginative. He has just really done a great job.

“I think the two coordinators Brent (Davis, offense) and Jay really complimented each other well. I think Jay got better at defending the option because of the different things that Brent was doing. I think the offense got better because of all of the wrinkles that Jay put in to defend it. It really was a great balance there with those two guys. They are both very competitive and they work really hard at their jobs.”

Monken said Army’s next defensive coordinator could come from someone on staff or the outside. He said he like to hire a coach that has the same aggressive philosophy and personality as Bateman.

“We have played so effectively on defense that I think it’s important for us not to have a wholesale change and take on a completely different philosophy on defense,” Monken said. “It’s got to be something that’s similar and somebody that can problem solve and fix the issues when they come up because inevitably they are going to and really inspire and motivate our players to play really, really hard and execute on Saturdays.

“To be really, really good, you got to have this everywhere, but at the academies, you got to be very fundamentally sound. I think we have good teachers on our staff. It’s important that the defensive coordinator to me is somebody that can give input at every position whether it be a drill or a technique and be able to teach and also be able to handle the scheme part of it when you put it all together is going to stop people from moving the football.”

 

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    Sal Interdonato

    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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