Brent Davis on offense

Quarterback Angel Santiago was mobbed by his offensive teammates after he scored his second touchdown of Army’s scrimmage Saturday.

Offensive coordinator Brent Davis was just as excited. Wide receiver Xavier Moss was heading to the sideline after his block on the play. Davis stopped him and sent him into celebration.

Army’s offense had its ups and downs during the scrimmage. Davis talked about his unit as Army wrapped up preseason camp.

“We feel like we are developing,” Davis said. “We are getting better. We made some big plays and got some guys that are starting to play faster. The quarterbacks are executing the offense a lot better. We’re not doing the average things that good offenses do consistently enough like stay onside, line up correctly, get the snap. The things that a lot of people take granted, they are going to happen and sometimes come to bite us. When we got stopped, we stop ourselves. We got to quit stopping Army and at least make the other team stop us.

“I think we are starting to play faster and understand the system. We are trying to be multiple in what we do but simple at the same time in the schemes. Boy now at this point in camp, we really should be starting to click assignment-wise.”

“We don’t have enough depth at some positions. We got to continue developing offensive linemen. It’s the next man up. Somebody has to step up. It’s a good lesson for our guys that they should always work hard and practice like they are the starter whether they sit at that position on the depth chart or not. Todd McDonald stepped up. He works hard. He’s the vocal leader of the group. He’s a guy that we certainly trust. He’s a guy that is excited to be playing football and he’s worked his tail off. He’s going to do well.”

On having only two senior offensive linemen (McDonald and guard Steve Shumaker) on the roster

“Shu has played a lot more than Todd has. We are going to have to rely on those guys to lead the group. We also got two really good juniors in (Drew) Hennessy and (Matt) Hugenberg. The problem is there’s guys that just haven’t played that much football that are now starting. There’s an adjustment period there. They are learning to carry the responsibility of a member of the first team and all the pressure that holds. They are responding. There’s no question they are responding. We’ve gotten better every week. But, we are not consistent enough yet.”

On the development of freshmen quarterbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and Kado Brown

“Coach (Mitch) Ware has done a great job with those guys. They have gotten a lot of reps throughout camp. It’s given them an opportunity to get better each day. That’s a position where the more you play it, the faster you can play. That’s where the disconnect is sometimes it doesn’t clickas fast as it does for Angel (Santiago) and A.J. (Schurr). But, they certainly have ability and they are competitive. That’s what we like about them.”

On how good the offense can be with the returning talent at the skilled positions

“We want to be good enough to help Army win football games. That’s all that matters. Whatever that is, that’s how good we want to be. I know that to help Army win football games we have to cut down on our mistakes and continue to play hard and physical. But, we got to have fewer errors as we move forward.

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Scrimmage blog: August 16

Army coach Jeff Monken described his offense’s play as, “feast or famine” following the team’s scrimmage Saturday at Michie Stadium.

Senior quarterback Angel Santiago led Army to a touchdown-scoring drive on its first possession. Senior running back Tony Giovannelli raced for 35 yards, putting the offense inside the 20. The defense stopped fullback Larry Dixon three consecutive times inside the 5 before Santiago scored a 2-yard run on fourth down.

Freshman quarterback Kado Brown hit a wide-open DeAndre Bell with a 99-yard touchdown pass. Bell separated himself 15 yards from any defender near midfield. Coach Monken said I could have hit Bell on the pass.

Army’s first-team offense fumbled a pitch, which was recovered by senior James Kelly (see video below). Freshman linebacker Bayle Wolf made a big hit on fullback PaulAndrew Rhoden. The ball flew into the air and linebacker Jim Forgrave caught it for another turnover. Junior safety Joey Giovannelli recovered a fumble by fullback Matt Giachinta. Junior safety Michael McFadden picked off sophomore quarterback Matt Kaufmann. Freshman safety Chris Zook wrestled the ball away from freshman wide receiver Jeff Ejekam near the 1-yard for an interception of freshman quarterback Seth Gonzales.

The first-team offensive line also had two consecutive false-start penalties that coach Monken wasn’t happy about.

Offensive coordinator Brent Davis said the offense, “made some big plays” and “the quarterbacks are executing the offense better,” but…

“We’re not doing the average things that good offenses do consistently enough like stay onsides, line up correctly, get the snap,” Davis said. “The things that a lot of people take granted, they are going to happen and sometimes, it’s come to bite us. When we got stopped, we stop ourselves. We got to quit stopping Army and at least make the other team stop us.”

The following players did not participate in the scrimmage: G Stefan Moreau (first team); RB Raymond Maples; S Hayden Pierce (first team); LB Marcus Poling; LB Julian Holloway.

First-team offense: QB Angel Santiago; FB Larry Dixon; RB Terry Baggett; RB Tony Giovannelli; WR Xavier Moss; TE Kelvin White; LT Drew Hennessy; LG Steve Shumaker; C Matt Hugenberg; RG Lofi Tamasese; RT Todd McDonald.

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond NG T.J. Atimalala and Richard Glover both saw action; DE Mike Ugenyi; LB Stephen Ricciardi; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB James Kelly; CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; S Geoff Bacon; S Luke Proulx. Freshman LB John Voit; LB Dalton Mendenhall and DE Ryan Alexander mixed in with the first team for a few snaps.

Playing on the kick-return team were: Josh Jenkins, Xavier Moss, Aaron Kemper, Marques Avery; Addison Holstein; PaulAndrew Rhoden; Joey Giovannelli; Dalton Mendenhall; Edgar Poe; Jim Forgrave and Joe Walker.

Playing on the kickoff coverage team were: Tevin Long; Tony Giovannelli; Justin Fahn; freshman Egbezian Obioman; Chris Carnegie; DeAndre Bell; freshman John Voit; Matt Giachint, Seth Combs, Steven Johnson and Michael McFadden.

Scrimmage sights and sounds: Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr (hamstring) did not take any snaps with the offense but he did throw one pass…After a bad snap, Schurr, a holder for extra points, connected with tight end Kelvin White for two-point conversion…Senior Angel Santiago didn’t attempt a pass until late in the scrimmage. Terry Baggett made a nice diving catch in the flat on Santiago’s first throw…Santiago hit running back Tony Giovannelli with a 25-yard pass on his next attempt…Baggett gained 29 yards on pitch to the right…Junior Justin Fahn blocked a punt by junior Alex Tardieu. Fahn came unblocked through the middle. After the play, Coach Jeff Monken ran to Fahn and gave him a high-five for the block…Tardieu’s 50-yard punt was downed at the 2-yard line. Junior cornerback Jared Rogers delivered a big hit on RB Joe Walker while intercepting a pass. Walker was down and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him. The interception was called due to pass interference on linebacker Dalton Mendenhall against Walker earlier in the route…

Freshman linebacker John Voit made the tackle on the opening kickoff and also tackled quarterback Kado Brown for a loss…Freshman linebacker Scott Washle and defensive end Ryan Alexander combined to sack Brown…Sophomore cornerback Josh Jenkins dropped Tony Giovannelli in the backfield for a loss…Senior wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence gained 25 yards on a reverse. Lawrence was patient waiting for his blockers and picked up additional yards on the right side…Tony Giovannelli had a 37-yard kickoff return…Freshman quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw held onto the ball, faking a pass up until the last second and ran for 26 yards…Junior tight end Kelvin White was the snapper on Army’s last extra point…

Scrimmage attendance was about 250. Saturday morning was Acceptable Day for West Point freshmen. Family and friends of the freshmen, who made plays, were vocal from the stands. Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen and new Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. John (J.T.) Thomson, both former Army football players, watched the scrimmage.

VIDEOS: 1. Senior LB James Kelly recovers fumble. 2. Senior quarterback Angel Santiago scores second touchdown of scrimmage. 3. Freshman QB Ahmad Bradshaw scores on short run. 4. Linebacker drills before scrimmage.

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2015 recruiting update

Quiet on the Army front as far as offers and commitments.

Big news. Highland (Ill.) DE Nick Czar, Army’s first commit of the 2015 class, recently committed to rival Navy.

Czar gave former Army coach Rich Ellerson his verbal commitment back in June 2013. He has changed his Twitter profile to “United States Naval Academy football commit – Class of 2015.”

A few of Army’s defensive line recruits have decided to play football elsewhere this week.

Desert Hills (Utah) 305-pound defensive tackle Lausii “Boogie” Sewell committed to Colorado.

Colorado also has interest in Desert Hills linebacker Gabe Sewell, Boogie’s cousin and an Army recruit.

Stafford (Texas) defensive lineman Josh Uluocha commited to Texas State Friday.

Army’s 2015 recruiting class is down to 14 with the loss of Czar.

Army 2015 verbal commitments
OL Jake Baumert, 6-3, 300, Lovejoy HS, Lucas, Texas
LB Jacob Covington, 6-2, 215, Liberty Hill (Texas) HS
DE T.J. Jackson, 5-11, 245, Trinity Christian HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
S James Gibson, 6-1, 200 Westfield HS, Chantilly, Va.: Three-star recruit by Rivals. Voted top safety at Army’s second prospect camp in June.
CB Richard Hanson, 5-10, 170, Prince George (Va.) HS: Voted top cornerback at Army’s second prospect camp in June.
QB Kelvin Hopkins, 5-10, 194, Independence HS, Charlote, N.C.
CB Jaylon McClinton, 5-10, 185, Charlotte (N.C.) Christian HS
DE Julian Meares, 6-3, 219, John Carroll School, Bel Air, Md. Made unofficial visit to West Point and committed on July 17. Voted top defensive lineman at Army’s first prospect camp in June.
CB Markale Moses, 5-10, 164, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
LB Corey Sanders, 6-4, 215, The Woodlands (Texas): Verbally committed to Army at first prospect camp in June. Earned best linebacker at camp.
DT Tanner Sheffield, 6-3, 245, North Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga.: Verbally committed to Army on July 10.
RB Connor Slomka, 6-foot, 205, Pine-Richland HS, Gibsonia, Pa.
QB Troy Smith, 6-0, 185, Harker Heights (Texas) HS
RB Calen Taylor, 5-7, 160, Christian Brothers Collegiate, St. Louis, Mo.

Here’s a list of the high school players from the class of 2015, who have received an offer to play Army football.

Might be missing a few but a pretty solid list.

Offers
RB Jordan Asberry, 5-9, 165, Colerain HS, Cincinnati, Ohio: Navy and Air Force have also offered Asberry.
S D’Angelo Amos, 6-1, 175, Meadowbrook HS, Richmond, Va.
TE Brion Anduze, 6-4, 225, Central Kitsap HS, Silverdale, Wash.: (COMMITTED to Arizona)
CB Aaquil Annoor, 5-11, 170, Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy
WR Chad Artist, 6-3, 180, Logan (Utah) HS: Artist’s Hudl profile says he runs a 4.39-second, 40-yard dash. (COMMITTED to Utah State)
DT Luc Bequette, 6-2, 290, Little Rock (Ark.) Catholic: Played junior season at Centennial High in Champaign, Ill. Also a center. (COMMITTED to California)
S Rashaad Bolton, 5-11, 205, Veterans HS, Kathleen, Ga.
OL-DL Grant Branch, 6-3, 272, Montini HS, Lombard, Ill.
T Christian Castleberry, 6-4, 270, Mesquite (Texas) HS: (COMMITTED to Arkansas State)
T-DE Nick Carmen, 6-4, 255, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix, Ariz.
T-DT Nick Carnesale, 6-2, 260, Hammonton (N.J.) HS
T Tyler Carr, 6-6, 322, Southside (Ala.) HS: Carr is ranked the fourth-best offensive tackle nationally and the 30th-best player overall by Rivals. Has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Texas, Georgia and Nebraska among others. (COMMITTED to Auburn).
LB Dyson Chmura, 6-3, 212, Waukesha West (Wisc.) HS: The son of former Packers tight end Mark Chmura has potential to play on the offensive side of the ball.
OL Steven Clark, 6-2, 300, Brindlee Mountain HS, Guntersville, Ala.: (COMMITTED to South Alabama).
WR Glen Coates, 5-11, 172, Davidson (N.C.) Day HS: Also offered by Navy.
QB Austin Conway, 5-11, 165, Overland HS, Aurora, Colo.: Conway, a three-star football recruit by Rivals, has offers from Nebraska and Colorado among others. He’s also a highly-recruited basketball player. Indiana has offered Conway for hoops. COMMITTED to Wyoming (basketball).
DE Nick Czar, 6-3, 269, Highland (Ill.) HS: Former Army commit. (COMMITTED to Navy)
LB Trevor Darby 6-3, 210 Davidson (N.C.) Day HS: Navy has also offered Darby.
DL Jack Darnell, 6-3, 260, Champlin Park HS, Champlin, Minn.: (COMMITTED to North Dakota State)
RB Andrew Davidson, 6-2, 210, Emmaus (Pa.) HS
RB Charlie Davidson, 5-10, 200, Blackman HS, Munfreesboro, Tenn.
S Chuck Davis, 5-8, 160, Broad Run HS, Ashburn, Va.: Davis has received a scholarship offer from Wisconsin among others.
RB Taye Davis, 6-2, 225, Lebanon (Tenn.) HS
OG Pat DiCarlo, 6-3, 280, Foothill HS, Santa Ana, Calif.
CB Daivon Ellison, 5-9, 180, Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, N.J.: Second-team, all-state cornerback is the No. 27 prospect in New Jersey, according to NJ.com. Ellison top four schools are Boston College, Penn State, Rutgers and Syracuse.
C Josh Fannin, 6-3, 290, Mill Creek HS, Hoschton, Ga.: Fannin is ranked the nation’s 10th best center and Georgia’s 70th-best player by Rivals. (COMMITTED to Middle Tennessee State)
FB-LB Pena Fitisemanu, 6-foot,255, Kahuku (Hawaii) HS: Navy offered Fitisemanu before Army.
S Kyle Floyd, 6-3, 205, Humble (Texas) HS
DE Marques Ford, 6-4, 217, East Bay HS, Gibsonton, Fla.: Ranked the 14th-best defensive end and 48th-best player in Florida by Rivals.com. Ford has offers from Clemson, Wisconsin, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Duke, N.C. State and among others. (COMMITTED to Tennessee)
RB Jonathan Forrest 5-11, 202, New Rochelle (N.Y.) HS: Forrest is ranked the second-best overall player in New York and the 50th-best running back in the country by Rivals.
S Clay French, 6-2, 200, Northview HS, Duluth, Ga.: French has an unofficial visit to West Point planned for July 21.
LB Eric Gallon, 6-2, 220, Jenkins HS, Lakeland, Fla.: Buffalo, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan are among the schools that have offered Gallon.
TE Jeff Gemmell, 6-3, 215, Heritage HS, Wake Forest, N.C.: (COMMITTED to UNC Charlotte)
C Michael Gomez, 6-foot, 270, Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill.
RB Evan Gray, 5-10, 228, Westfield HS, Chantilly, Va.: Voted best running back at Army’s second prospect camp in June.
P Cory Griffith, 6,-2, 210, St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland, Ohio
T-DE Devin Hannan, 6-4, 270, Belle Vernon (Pa.) HS: (COMMITTED to Towson)
WR Jaylen Harris, 5-7, 150, Steele HS, Cibolo, Texas
G R.J. Harris, 6-3, 260, North Florida Christian HS, Tallahassee, Fla.
CB Montre Hartage, 6-foot, 180, Crisp County HS, Cordele, Ga.
LB Hayden Haupt, 6-2, 210, Clovis North HS, Fresno, Calif.
RB Robert Heyward, 6-foot, 195, Calvary Day School, Savannah, Ga.
WR Tabari Hines, 5-10, 165, South Florence HS, Florence, S.C.: (COMMITTED to Wake Forest)
LB Kendrick Jackson, 6-1, 235, Haynesville (La.) HS: (COMMITTED to Arizona)
QB Issac James, 5-11, 183 Carmel (Ind.) HS
OL Radson Jang, 6-2, 250, Kamehameha HS, Honolulu, Hawaii
WR-CB Brenndan Johnson, 5-11, 170, Midway HS, Waco, Texas: (COMMITTED to Navy)
RB Jalen Johnson, 5-9, 167, Westview HS, Avondale, Ariz.
C Andrew Jones, 6-foot, 280 Unionville HS, Kennett Square, Pa.
LB Cole Jones, 6-foot, 210, St Xavier HS, Cincinnati
DE Milord Juste, 6-1, 242, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) HS: (COMMITTED to Florida International)
TE Christian Kelley, 6-2, 230, Mount Carmel (Pa.) HS: Kelley went on an unofficial visit to Army on June 17.
T Griffin Landrum, 6-3, 285, South Forsyth HS, Cumming, Ga.
DL Simeon Lane, 6-1, 300, St. Xavier’s HS, Cincinnati
LB-RB Noah Lazaro, 6-2, 215, Southwest HS, Lincoln, Neb.
DB Trey Lee, 5-10, 185, Thomas Stone HS, Waldorf, Md.
LB Gus Little 6-3, 224, Massaponax HS, Fredricksburg, Va.: (COMMITTED to Maryland)
DE Kirk Livingstone, 6-4, 235, Stranahan HS, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: (COMMITTED to Alabama-Birmingham)
DE Dante Lonardo, Bethlehem Catholic (Pa.) HS: (COMMITTED to Lafayette)
RB DeAngelo Malone, 5-11, 185, Cathedral HS, Erie, Pa.
DT Thad Mangum, 6-1, 270, Christ Church Episcopal HS, Greenville, S.C.
RB Marcus Marshall, 5-10, 200, Millbrook HS, Raleigh, N.C.
S Andrew Martel, 6-1, 195, Foster HS, Richmond, Texas: (COMMITTED to Texas-San Antonio)
OL Mitch Mathes, 6-3, 280, Troup County HS, LaGrange, Ga.: (COMMITTED to Mercer)
C-NG Jamarion McBride, 6-2, 290, Hillcrest HS, Simpsonville, S.C.
G Kyle-Malik Mitchell, 6-2, 295, Alcoa (Tenn.) HS
G Trenton Mooney, 6-5, 255, Lamar (Mo.) HS
CB Sammy Morrison, 5-11, 160 Gonzaga HS, Washington, D.C. (COMMITTED to Arizona)
NG Army Motuapuaka, 5-11, 285, Salem HS, Virginia Beach, Va.: Army is Motuapuaka’s first FBS offer. Father is first sergeant in Army. Brother is linebacker for Virginia Tech. Made unofficial visit to West Point on July 16.
DT Kevin Murphy, 6-3, 275, West Chester (Pa.) East HS (COMMITTED to UConn)
LB-FB Robert Muschamp, Darlington School, Rome, Ga.: A three-star recruit by Rivals, Muschamp is ranked as the 38th-best outside linebacker in the nation and the 41st-best player in Georgia.
DE Jalen Nash, 6-3, 235, SouthLake Christian HS, Huntersville, N.C.
WR Devin Nixon, 6-foot, 181, Viera (Fla.) HS
OL-DL Michael Owens, 6-4, 270, Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park, Ill.
RB Devine Ozigbo, 5-11, 230, Sachse (Texas) HS: Rivals ranks Ozigbo the 42nd-best running back in the class of 2015. Texas back has 23 FBS offers (COMMITTED to Iowa State)
G Ethan Palelei, 6-foot, 290 Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas: Brother, Evan, was a senior defensive end at Navy last season. Father, Lonnie, played for Steelers, Eagles, Giants and Jets.
LB Charlie Patrick, 6-1, 208, Mays HS, Atlanta: Patrick has named his top three schools. In no particular order, Western Kentucky, Appalachian State and Georgia State.
WR Christian Philpott, 6-4, 203, North Florida Christian HS, Tallahassee, Fla.: Georgia state 1A 200 and 400-meter champion also has offers from Wisconsin, Miami (Fla.), Iowa State, Maryland, Central Florida and Louisville among others. (COMMITTED to Georgia Tech)
QB Elijah Robinson, 6-1, 174, Montclair HS, N.J. (COMMITTED to Boston College)
QB Rashad Robinson, 6-foot, 180, Hermitage HS, Richmond, Va.
OL Nelson Santiago, 6-4, 266, Oakleaf HS, Orange Park, Fla.: Also has offers from Cincinnati, Western Kentucky and Florida International. (COMMITTED to South Alabama)
LB Ben Schrider, 6-4, 225, St. Mary’s College HS, Albany, Calif.
LB Gabriel Sewell, 6-foot, 215, Desert Hills HS, St. George, Utah
DT Lausii “Boogie” Sewell, 6-foot, 305, Desert Hills HS, St. George, Utah: (COMMITTED to Colorado)
QB Jeff Smith, 6-1, 170, Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic HS: (COMMITTED to Boston College)
LB-S Aron Spann, 6-2, 195, Dorman HS, Roebuck, S.C.
WR Brad Stewart, 6-1, 190, Benedictine Military School, Savannah, Ga.
DL Roderick Stoddard, 6-foot, 250, Hillcrest HS, Simpsonville, S.C.
OL Nathan Thacker, 6-2, 250, Lord Botetourt HS, Daleville, Va.
DL Josh Uluocha, 6-3, 267, Stafford (Texas) HS: Uluocha received his first offer from Army. Texas State followed up with an offer on same day. (COMMITTED to Texas State)
RB Quaide Weimerskirch, 6-foot, 200 pounds, Pace HS, Milton, Fla. (COMMITTED to Louisiana-Lafayette)
QB McKinley Whitfield, 6-4, 195, Spiro (Okla.) HS: Army is recruiting Whitfield, who was named the top basketball player in his area, as an quarterback and an athlete. Rivals ranks Whitfield as the 13th-best player in the state of Oklahoma.
WR Kielan Whitner, 6-1, 178, Mountain View HS, Lawrenceville, Ga.
QB Greg Williams, 5-10, 193, Steele HS, Cibolo, Texas: (COMMITTED to Texas State)
QB Arion Worthman, 6-foot, 200 University HS, Normal, Ill.
C Kendel Wright, 6-3, 280, Mountain View HS, Lawrenceville, Ga.
DT Raymond Wright, 6-3, 265, Kell HS, Charlotte, N.C.
DE Will Yancey, 6-4, 240, Landmark Christian HS, Fairburn, Ga.
LB Christian Young, 6-2, 215. Hough HS, Cornelius, N.C.

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

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Media Day quotes

Here’s some excerpts from interviews with coach Jeff Monken and players:

Coach Jeff Monken (More on video below)
On the offense
“I think there’s a lot of things that you will see that are the same. We run the inside veer. We run the outside veer. We run the midline (option). We run the toss play. All of those things are going to look very similar. But there’s things that we do more of. We might run one of those particular plays more than Army has ran in the past just because of our philosophy or the kind of guys that we have on our football right now that we think are the strengths of the team…

“We will also line up in the shotgun which we have done the last three years at Georgia. Southern. That will be a part of our offense. How much? I don’t know. Maybe even more than under center. Maybe a lot less depending on who we got carrying the ball and what they are capable of doing.”

Senior RB Terry Baggett
On a new Army team
“It’s a different world. It’s a different era. Everything is different. The mentality, the mindset, how we do things, how we think about things, how we go about doing things. It is completely different and it’s great.”

On always have a knack for scoring touchdowns
“I remember one time in sixth grade, it was a toss play right. I stopped and ran all the way around the field and scored a touchdown. I’ve been scoring touchdowns for a little bit.”

Senior defensive end Joe Drummond

Drummond said…”It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the culture here and the fact it is the United States Military Academy. What has been awesome is that we believe it and coach Monken said it, we want to be treated like Division I football players. It’s been great the past six months. We’ve been making sure everything that we do, we do it right by the team. Every action we take has consequences.

Junior guard Matt Hugenberg
On putting on weight in the offseason

“I showed up after Christmas at 278 and the new staff said we think you can easily play at 300. Initially, I just couldn’t picture myself at 300 pounds. But once we got in the strength room and really got the ball rolling, the weight came on pretty easily. Once I hung out with coach (Tim) Caron) and coach (Will) Greenberg all summer, it really came on real easy. The first couple steps off the ball, I don’t think I’ve lost any (speed) at all. If I was going to run 10 miles, I might feel it a little bit. I don’t think I’ve lost any explosiveness. If anything, I’ve become more explosive coming off the ball.”

Senior linebacker Stephen Ricciardi

On his climb up the depth chart to be a starter this season

“I started off my freshman and sophomore year playing on the jayvee team. I tried as hard as I could to make varsity. I was fortunate enough to make some special teams (units) my sophomore and junior years with the help of all my teammates and the coaches I had. I’m definitely privileged to be in the opportunity I am now. Just being able to help the upperclassmen so hopefully they can get a quicker jump-start than I got.”

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

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Monken on kicking game

Talked to coach Jeff Monken about one of his favorite topics – special teams.

Monken said, “there’s competition right now all the way through,” the preseason at kicker and punter.

Here’s how the competition has been shaking out:

Kicker: “The kicking job is probably the one where there is some competition between (junior Dan) Grochowski and (sophomore) Mitchell Howard. Mitchell is kicking off really well. He’s a left-footed kicker. Dan obviously has the game experience. I think there’s a good battle there. Cale Brewer and Grochowski are veterans and Cale is also in that top group of guys. They have both had pains and aches for kicking a lot during camp. We tried to back off a little bit on those guys to help them recover.”

Note: Grochowski has kicked field goals and extra points the past two seasons for Army. He is 18-for-27 on field-goal attempts in his career. Grochowski made all 37 of his extra points in 2013.

Punter: “(Junior Alex) Tardieu is clearly the best punter right now. We moved one of our kickers (Ralph Freibert) to punter to do that full time at the end of spring. He’s improving but he’s a kicker by nature so it’s taking some time for him to kind of get in the groove.”

Note: Tardieu ranked 95th in the nation, averaging 37.3 yards per punt in his first season last year.

Long snapper:  “(Connor) Farley is clearly the best long snapper right now. We got a couple of young guys, freshmen, that I think are going to be backups and do a good job for us.”

Note: Andrew Ellerson, Army’s long snapper the past two seasons and son of former head coach Rich Ellerson, left the team and was playing club volleyball at West Point.

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August 13 practice blog

Biggest news of Wednesday’s morning practice came after the session when coach Jeff Monken said starting right tackle Justin Gilbert will miss the season. Gilbert hasn’t practiced since early in training camp. It is believed the 6-foot-7, 271-pound junior suffered a serious knee injury in practice last week. For more, read here.

Army practiced in a steady rain for the first time this preseason. Temperatures were in the low 70s.

“It’s either got to get warmer or we need to find a place to practice where it’s warmer,” Monken said. “These guys don’t know how easy that got it.”

Lost track of the amount of players in red (no-contact) jerseys at practice. The list included: first-team defensive players DE Mike Ugenyi, NG Richard Glover and S Hayden Pierce. RB Raymond Maples, DE Bobby Kough, S Steven Johnson, LB Julian Holloway, LB Marcus Poling, S Tunde Akinniyi and LB Derek Sanchez were also in red.

Good news on the injury front: Senior safety and co-captain Geoff Bacon practiced for the second straight day. Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr threw passes during 1-on-1s (wide receivers and defensive backs). Running back Lawrence Scott was wearing a blue (limited) jersey, but the senior looked pretty quick on a pitch play. Sophomore wide receivers Xavier Moss and Edgar Poe are back practicing at full strength. Sophomore guard Lofi Tamasese is practicing without any restrictions. Sophomore defensive tackle Ammon Tuimaunei was limited.

First-team offense: QB Angel Santiago; FB Larry Dixon; RB Tony Giovannelli, RB Terry Baggett; WR Xavier Moss, WR Edgar Poe, TE Kelvin White; LT Drew Hennessy; LG Steve Shumaker; C Matt Hugenberg; RG Stefan Moreau; RT Todd McDonald.

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond; NG T.J. Atimalala; DE Ryan Alexander; LB Stephen Ricciardi; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB James Kelly; CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; FS Geoff Bacon; SS Luke Proulx.

More practice observations: Former quarterback and Army Hall of Famer Rollie Stichweh attended practice. Coach Jeff Monken had Stichweh address to team after the session…Cornerback Josh Jenkins intercepted a pass by Angel Santiago that was tipped by defensive end Ryan Alexander…Alexander and senior defensive end Joe Drummond combined to sack freshman QB Kado Brown…Sophomore defensive end Malcolm Hudson recovered a fumble by running back Terry Baggett…Freshman John Voit getting second-team reps at outside linebacker…Freshman wide receiver John Trainor making a nice diving catch on a pass from Matt Kaufmann…Freshman safety Brandon Barnes knocking a pass down near the left sideline.

VIDEOS: 1. Cornerback Josh Jenkins interception. 2. Defensive ends Joe Drummond and Ryan Alexander combine for sack.

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

 

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Top offensive lineman Gilbert out for season

Army has lost one of its top offensive lineman for the season before the team breaks preseason camp.

Justin Gilbert, who started all 12 games at right tackle in 2013, suffered a serious knee/leg injury last week in practice and will miss his junior season.

“He’s a starter,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “If he’s not our best offensive linemen, he’s certainly one of the best.”

Glibert, who is 6-foot-7 and 271 pounds, helped Army rank third in the nation in rushing (309.8 yards) last season. He played between 240 and 245 pounds as a sophomore. Gilbert had added the strength and size in the offseason to play in a more physical triple-option offense this fall.

Army was young and lacked experienced depth on the offensive line before Gilbert’s injury.

Todd McDonald, one of Army’s two senior offensive linemen, has shifted from center to right tackle to replace Gilbert.

“It hasn’t been too difficult of a transition,” said McDonald (6-foot, 260). “But definitely not the way I would have wanted to take the job for sure.”

Army has switched junior defensive lineman Wyatt Wilkerson (6-2, 261) to right tackle. Junior Corey Hobbs (6-foot, 240), who has moved back and forth from tight end to offensive line, has also seen snaps at right tackle.

“You move guys around and try to get your best five on the field,” Monken said.

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

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In the trenches: Coach Monken on line play

Army coach Jeff Monken said Monday’s morning practice was the best his offensive line has looked during preseason camp.

But, Monken said he’s still seeing too many missed assignments. Most of the mistakes are coming from freshmen but the coach said, “still some guys that we are going to count on,” are also making miscues.

“We have had some assignments busts,” Monken said after Monday’s practice. “That’s frustrating and we have to get that fixed. They are well-coached. I think coach (Brent) Davis (Army’s offensive coordinator) and the staff on offense do a great job coaching those guys. They are getting better. They are fighting in there. I like the competition.”

An early preseason injury to starting junior tackle Justin Gilbert has forced senior Todd McDonald, a center, to right tackle. The rest of the first-team offensive line has remained intact with senior guard and two-year starter Steve Shumaker the veteran of the group. There’s still some snap issues with junior Matt Hugenberg, who has never played a game in his life at center.

Army is very young on the offensive line and freshmen could push for some playing time or at least a spot on the two-deep. Freshman center Bryce Holland is already playing with the second team. Freshman guard Joe Tustin, listed at 6-foot-1 and 285 pounds, has also looked good.

As for the defensive line, Monken said, “I really, really like (senior nose guard Richard) Glover. He’s such a powerful kid. He’s quick. Joe Drummond (Army’s senior defensive end) has gained 20-25 pounds and he just looks different. We moved (sophomore) Malcolm Hudson from the outside backer to defensive end. Though, he is slightly built, he’s really quick.”

Monken said both lines stay have improvements to make before Army kicks off its season against Buffalo on Sept. 6 at Michie Stadium.

“If I was feeling great about the defensive line, they would completely dominate the offensive line every play and vice versa,” Monken said. “If I was feeling great about the offensive line, they would completely dominate the defensive line every play. I know that our defensive line is going to face offensive lines that are bigger than our and I know our offensive line is going to have to block defensive linemen that are a lot bigger than ours. So unless there’s complete domination by one side or the other, we are certainly not where we need to be yet.”

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August 11 practice blog

Let’s start with the quarterbacks.

Senior Angel Santiago was back practicing with the first team as Army began its second week of preseason practice Monday morning. Coach Jeff Monken said Santiago was held out of practice Saturday after, “taking a shot to the outside of his thigh the other day (Friday) and it was sore and pretty swollen and bruised.” Santiago was wearing a red (no-contact) jersey. Monken said he’s holding Santiago out of contact drills.

But, the senior, who started 11 games last season, was under center during two 15-minutes periods of offense vs. defense. Santiago’s legs looked fine as he broke off a long touchdown run down the right side.

Freshmen Kado Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw shared second-team reps. By my count, Brown might have took a few more snaps than Bradshaw. Brown continues to show big-play running ability. He darted down the right sideline for 38 yards. He was caught at the 1-yard line by senior linebacker Steve Ricciardi.

“I’m just trying to give my best effort,” Brown said. “Coach Monken always talks about giving your best effort when you are out there and that’s one thing that I’ve tried to internalize since I’ve been here. Any time I get the chance, I try to make the best out of my opportunity and give it all I’ve got. I’m still in the process. I’m not going to say I’m confident but I am comfortable. Once I grasp it better, I think I will gain more confidence.”

Junior A.J. Schurr, the team’s top quarterback in the spring, remains out with a hamstring injury. Monken said, ” I wish we could get A.J. in there…It’s pretty significant (injury) obviously. He’s been out for the last week and half or workouts and all this week of camp. He’s getting better. He wants to go. I’m just concerned if he really accelerates off of that or has to have a quick deceleration that he pulls it again and we are back to square one and another three weeks away. We are going to try and let him get healthy and when our training staff feels comfortable we’ll get him back him in there.”

Monken said he didn’t know if Schurr would practice fully before the team’s scrimmage Saturday.

“He’ll probably throw the ball some this afternoon where he doesn’t have to run down the line or sprint out,” Monken said. “A lot of shotgun which will be good for him to get in there and do that.”

First-team offense: QB Angel Santiago; FB Larry Dixon; RB Tony Giovannelli; RB Terry Baggett; LT Drew Hennessy; LG Steve Shumaker; C Matt Hugenberg; RG Stefan Moreau; RT Todd McDonald; TE Kelvin White; WR Justin Newman/Chevaughn Lawrence.

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond; NG T.J. Atimalala; DE Mike Ugenyi; LB Steve Ricciardi; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; LB James Kelly; CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; SS Hayden Pierce; FS Joey Giovannelli.

The following players were among a group, wearing red (no-contact) jerseys: QB A.J. Schurr; WR Xavier Moss; WR Edgar Poe; NG Richard Glover; LB Derek Sanchez’ FB Aaron Kemper.

Freshmen depth chart: C Bryce Holland has moved up to second string. LBs John Voit and Bayle Wolf took second-team snaps.

Discipline: Monken blew his whistle and shouted, “Find A Teammate.” The signal for the Army team to gather at the center of field to hear Monken’s post-practice comments. Monken wasn’t happy with the urgency of some of the players and sent the team back to the sideline. The team ran to center of the field again.

More practice observations: The offense won its first 15-minute period versus the defense to end practice. The defense finished the morning sessions with 25 pushups. Coach Jeff Monken stopped the defense midway through the pushups, saying he wanted everyone to count up as they completed a rep…The offense won the passing period at Michie Stadium. Freshman Ahmad Bradshaw completed a pass in traffic to freshman receiver Jermaine Adams…Linebacker Steve Ricciardi stuffs fullback Larry Dixon at the line of scrimmage to lead the defense to victory in the first 15-minute period of competition…Cornerback Josh Jenkins laid a big hit on running back Joe Walker, who received a late pitch from quarterback Angel Santiago…Sophomore linebacker Chasen Brown sacked Santiago…Senior RB Terry Baggett took a pitch right for 20 yards…Santiago hit junior tight end Kelvin White with a 15-yard pass over the middle…Junior wide receiver DeAndre Bell made a nice adjustment on pass from Santiago near the right sideline…Junior Dan Grochowski made the only field goal (37 yards) in six attempts by Army kickers during the two 15-minute sessions. Sophomore Mitchell Howard and freshman Blake Wilson each went 0-for-2. Grochowski missed his second off the right upright…Sophomore linebacker Jeremy Timpf had good downfield coverage, knocking away a pass intended for freshman running back Nehemiah Brown.

VIDEOS: 1. Pushups by defense at end of practice. 2. Senior guard and two-year starter Steve Shumaker talks offensive line. 3. Safety Joey Giovannelli’s big hit on tight end Kelvin White. 4. Junior fullback Matt Giachinta’s long touchdown run on next play after Giovannelli’s hit.

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

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August 9 morning practice blog

Freshman quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was running Army’s first-team offense during the team’s morning practice Saturday.

Senior Angel Santiago, Army’s most experienced quarterback, was in a red (no-contact) jersey and pads and didn’t participate in practice. Santiago was likely banged up during the team’s first contact practice Friday. He was gingerly walking from practice period to practice period.

Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr, who was limited in his first practice Thursday, was wearing shorts and no-contact jersey. Schurr was observing practice.

That left two freshman Bradshaw and Kado Brown taking the bulk of the team’s reps.

Bradshaw and Brown both had their good and not-so good moments.

Bradshaw is improving his passing every practice. He connected with running back Joe Walker in a 35-40-yard pass down the left sideline. He said quarterbacks coach Mitch Ware has helped him with his throwing.

“Things like pointing my shoulder, getting my feet set and not throwing off my back foot,” Bradshaw said. “It has improved a lot since high school.”

At times,  Bradshaw looked smooth running the triple option and pitching the ball at the right time. Bradshaw ran an option out of the shotgun at Brooks Prep in Chicago.

Brown flashed his big-play ability on two long runs. On one run, Brown outran the middle linebacker and got to the outside for extra 20-25 yards. Sophomore running back Elijah St. Hilaire threw a great block on the edge for Brown. Brown also lower his shoulder and delivered a hit on senior Tunde Akinniyi as he advanced to the secondary on a keeper run. He shows a lot of moxie with or without. Brown and sophomore middle linebacker Jeremy Timpf got in each other’s face after the whistle. And, Brown didn’t back down.

Both freshmen had their problems with ball security. Bradshaw was stripped by middle linebacker Andrew King on a short run. King recovered the fumble. Freshman defensive end Brennan Richmond knocked the ball away from Brown. Brown recovered his fumble.

Sophomore Matt Kaufmann, who finished the spring No. 3 on the depth chart behind Schurr and Santiago, only received turns during passing drills. Kaufmann was picked off twice by sophomore cornerback Tevin Long during one period. He completed a quick slant to freshman wide receiver John Trainor.

The following players, wore red jerseys and didn’t participate fully in practice: S Geoff Bacon; QB Angel Santiago; WR Xavier Moss; WR Edgar Poe; S Steven Johnson; T Justin Gilbert; OL Lofi Tamasese; LB Sean McBryde; LB Dalton Mendenhall; OL Parker Bates; DL Ammon Tuimaunei.

First-team offense: QB Ahmad Bradshaw’ FB Larry Dixon; RB Tony Giovannelli; RB Raymond Maples; WR Justin Newman; WR Chevaughn Lawrence; TE Kelvin White; LT Drew Hennessy; LG Steve Shumaker; C Matt Hugenberg; RG Stefan Moreau; RT Todd McDonald.

First-team defense: DE Joe Drummond; NG Richard Glover; DE Mike Ugenyi; LB Steve Ricciardi; LB James Kelly; LB Andrew King; LB Jeremy Timpf; CB Josh Jenkins; CB Chris Carnegie; FS Joey Giovannelli; SS Hayden Pierce. Glover was banged up later in practice.

Depth chart: Freshman C Bryce Holland is running with the second team. Freshman linebacker Justin Byers saw some second-team snaps.

Position change: Senior Addison Holstein and freshman Nick Schleber have moved from linebacker to tight end.

Special teams: Freshman John Trainor fielded the majority of the kickoffs. Trainor, Josh Jenkins, Chris Carnegie and Alex Turner were back returning punts. Raymond Maples, Trenton Turrentine, Chevaughn Lawrence and Joe Walker were among the players covering kickoffs. Junior Dan Grochowski made a 37-yard field goal.

More practice observations: Senior running back Terry Baggett looks like he’s returning to 2013 form. Baggett, who missed spring practice due to injury, broke off a 59-yard touchdown run right through the middle of Army’s defense. He also took a pitch from Ahmad Bradshaw 15 yards down the right sideline…Army is counting on sophomore middle linebacker Andrew King to make big plays this season. King caused and recovered a fumble and dropped fullbacks Larry Dixon and Matt Giachinta for no gain during practice…Another encouraging sign from Army’s backfield was senior Trenton Turrentine’s 25-yard run. Turrentine was back to his physical self on the run, knocking back Army defenders…Freshman defensive end Andrew McLean dropped fullback Aaron Kemper near the line of scrimmage…Freshman safety Alex Aukerman darts into the backfield and tackled quarterback Seth Gonzales for a loss…Sophomore linebacker Seth Combs recovered a Gonzales fumble…Army was practicing in shells for its afternoon practice.

VIDEOS: 1. Coach Jeff Monken on the morning practice of the session. 2. Terry Baggett’s 59-yard TD run.

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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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