I promise I will get through this entire preview without using this beaten to death cliche “the Army fights the more important battles away from the field.” or the equally shop-worn “what the Army does out there everyday in the world makes the games we love possible; they protect out freedom so we can enjoy college football.”
We get it. There’s no reason to keep making every national television appearance by Army a military recruiting infomercial. They won the “Armed Forces Bowl” isn’t that enough promotion already?
And get ready for that aircraft carrier Michigan State Spartans-North Carolina Tar Heels college basketball game. It’s going to be on Veterans Day, and it’ll take place aboard the same carrier that buried Osama bin Laden’s body at sea. Which means you’ll hear all those military cliches and more a million times over during the media broadcast of that game.
That said, this is a rather exciting time for the gridiron program at West Point.
By Paul M. Banks
2010 was: Productive and “great success” as Borat would say, as the team won a bowl game for the first time since 1985, and had their first winning season since 1996. But it was also BORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRING as they ran an offense that fits right in with the Army glory days of the 1940s. The Cadets finished dead last in the nation in passing offense. Running their triple-option, the need to pass didn’t come up very much.
BMOCs: QB Trent Steelman. How can you not be a stud with a name like that? Seriously Trent Steelman is not the name of a character on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim.” He’s the junior signal caller who runs the offense like a smooth operator. When he’s not rushing it himself, he can hand it off to fullback Jared Hassin, a 1,000 rusher in 2010. They also rotate a cadre of talented slotbacks.
2011 will be fruitful if: They actually pass more than 14 times the entire season. Rich Ellerson is a smart guy and he runs a system that works well for his talent, but this year the schedule gets tougher. They’ll need to pass more in order to keep opponents off balance. And if the Army defenses hold the line, a bowl bid is a possibility.
2011 will be awful if: Opponents stack the line, put nine men in the box and their d doesn’t improve much from last season. It would also behoove them to win one of their rivalry games -Notre Dame, Navy, Air Force- as they lost all three last season.
Bottom Line: There’s enough returning talent to make this a productive season in upstate New York as long as Steelman recovers from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. But to get back to a bowl game, the Black Knights will need to upset at least two-three of the higher ranked opponents on their schedule. And maybe I need to be more grateful and learn to “SUPPORT THE TROOPS!”
I am such an ungracious bastard.