Tag:Rich Ellerson
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Army opens spring practice, moves spring game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not easy for our nation's men and women in uniform to make the trip to West Point for the Army football team's spring game. So the Black Knights are bringing the game to some of them.

Army announced recently that the annual Black/Gold Game will be held at Doughboy Stadium on the campus of Fort Benning, Ga. The game will be held March 9 at the conclusion of Army's spring practice, which officially begins Monday after some weekend walkthroughs.

"It's something we're anxious to do," Army head coach Rich Ellerson said in a statement. "It makes too much sense. As spring football games have become a little bit more of a media event, it's a chance for us to showcase the program and articulate that connection with the U.S. Army ... It will be a great experience for us and hopefully for the folks at Fort Benning. It's a first-time thing. We had to get an exception from the NCAA, but it makes sense given the institutional relationships. We'll see where it leads us."

Maj. Gen. Bob Brown, Fort Benning's commanding general, said the "theme of the event and the focus of the day" surrounding the game would be "Duty."

The game at Fort Benning will wrap up what shapes up as a key spring practice for the Black Knights, one Ellerson hopes will help turn around the momentum from a disappointing 3-9 season. Ellerson said after Saturday's workout that more team veterans will have more work to do in spring drills than in 2011--particularly in the area of ball security, where the Black Knights ranked 120th out of 120 in fumbles lost.

“Frankly, those guys need it very badly,” head coach Rich Ellerson said. “We had the ball on the ground a lot last year. When we talk about the fundamentals, in some cases, I’m talking about our older guys. We need to either get them right or beat them out.”

For a CBSSports.com ULive video interview with Army senior quarterback Trent Steelman, click here. 

HT: EDSBS

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Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:16 am
 

Teams to watch for turnover trouble

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We're certainly not breaking any news when we tell you that turnover margin is, yes, the kind of statistic that can make or break a team's season or -- for regular readers of Phil Steele and the numbers-minded like -- one that fluctuates from season-to-season nearly at random. While elite teams like Pete Carroll's mid-decade USC squads can end up consistently on the positive side of turnover margin, this correlation study at College Football News concludes that for most teams, it's more about the bounce of the ball:
[I]t's clear that for most teams, the turnover margin they enjoy one year has virtually zero predictive value for the turnover margin they will enjoy the next year. That means that on average, teams with substantially positive margins will see major decline in margin the next year, and teams with substantially negative margins will see major improvement the next year. A team with a -10 turnover margin in 2009, for example, would have an expected turnover margin of -1.2 in 2010, an improvement of nearly a full turnover per game!
Again, it's not a surprising conclusion (though that "nearly a full turnover per game" number deserves the exclamation point). But it's worth emphasizing that as we start to look towards the 2011 season, we pay a particularly skeptical eye towards teams with gaudy -- and likely unsustainable -- 2010 turnover margins. Here's a few:

Tulsa (+17). The Golden Hurricane are likely to be among the Conference USA favorites thanks to the 1-2 punch of quarterback G.J. Kinne and receiver/returner Damaris Johnson, but their no-huddle attack has always been something of a turnover slot machine and the overhaul  on the coaching staff won't help limit mistakes.

Connecticut (+12). No one's expecting a repeat trip to the Fiesta Bowl, but Paul Pasqualoni might have an even more difficult job ahead of him than expected. With quarterback Zach Fraser gone and the defense unlikely to come up with 31 takeaways again, just staying on the positive side will be an accomplishment.

Army (+16). The Black Knights are in better shape under Rich Ellerson, program-wise, than they've been in ages. But as the study points out, it's tough to expect a team that's averaged a -5 finish over the past eight years to turn in overwhelmingly positive margins two years running.

Maryland (+15). The Terps finished tied for fifth in the nation in fewest giveaways, and while some of that was steady quarterbacking by Danny O'Brien, some of it was also an amazing four fumbles lost all season. (Only Ohio State and Wisconsin lost fewer.) A repeat performance in that department is highly, highly unlikely.

Oregon (+13), Oklahoma State (+12). Many national title contenders are able to rely on year-in, year-out success in the turnover department -- Alabama has been +36 over the past three seasons, Ohio State an incredible +48 in that span -- but in the cases of the Ducks and Cowboys, their 2010 margins reperesented a quantum leap forward; they finished at +2 and 0 the year before, respectively, with neither better than +5 the year before that.

If either is going to make their expected BCS push in 2011 (or another one, in Oregon's case), they'll have to show that 2010 was the start of a Buckeye- or Tide-like trend rather than a fortunate one-off.

Posted on: December 30, 2010 10:06 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Armed Forces Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Army jumped out to a big first half lead and held on to stun the heavily favored SMU by the score of 16-14.

Army

Offense: There usually isn't much pride to be taken in scoring 16 points in an entire game, and it usually adds up to a loss to boot. But even that would be an overestimation of Army's production today; one of the Black Knights' scores came on a fumble return, so the offense really only managed nine points. Further, QB Trent Steelman struggled with the SMU defense: in the second half, Army never even managed to get into field goal range until the last clinching drive. Things really could have gone south for Army today. Grade: D

Defense: Those things did not, in fact, go south for Army today because the defense was so effective in the first half. In addition to the fumble returned for a touchdown, Army also came up with two interceptions in the first half (neither of which it was able to turn into points, mind you, but that's not the defense's fault). In the second half, Army's defense seemed to be running out of gas, allowing two long touchdown drives and another drive to field goal range. That field goal was missed, but again, not necessarily on the defense. Still, three first-half takeaways put Army in charge, and that's nothing to take lightly. Grade: B-

Coaching: Here, Rich Ellerson deserves a great deal of credit; the Black Knights were much more prepared for today's game and took the fight to SMU early. Then late in the game, with the Army offense floundering and SMU desperately needing a stop, Ellerson made two brilliant third-down calls: one a play action QB sweep on 3rd and 9, and an especially gutsy play action throw to the tight end to seal the game with 1:14 left -- only Steelman's second completion of the game. The bottom line is this: Army played four quarters, and SMU didn't. Grade: A

Southern Methodist

Offense: SMU QB Kyle Padron threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, and the Mustang offense gained over 400 yards in total. When their backs were up against the wall, the Mustangs responded well, gaining 198 yards on their three drives of the second half. But thanks to Army's time-intensive ground attack, all SMU got in that second half was three drives, so all Army needed was one stop -- which it got late. The stop itself was something of a surprise, considering how well the Mustang offense was connecting through the air and grinding on the ground, but it still happened. If only Padron hadn't given the ball away three times in the first half. Grade: B-

Defense: The SMU defense did its job, for the most part; Army's offense gathered 16 first downs but only 221 total yards, and it had just two scoring drives on the day. The Mustang defense didn't force any turnovers, though, which meant SMU was never in a short-field situation; even after forcing four punts, SMU's average starting field position was its own 24-yard line. Small nit to pick with a defense that gave up nine points, but an important note when one team outgains the other by almost 200 yards and loses by two points. Grade: B+

Coaching: It's easy to understand why the Mustangs might not have been thrilled about this bowl assignment, since they had to play it at their home stadium in front of a generally disinterested crowd. There are things football players expect out of a bowl experience, and staying home isn't one of them. That said, responsibility for getting the team ready to play ultimately falls on June Jones -- who's normally well-respected as a coach, and deservedly so -- and the flat first half the Mustangs put forth is on his shoulders. Now, whatever Jones said to his guys at the half (probably something along the lines of "GUYS YOU ARE IN A BOWL GAME") worked, as SMU outscored Army 14-0 after the break, but when Matt Smymanski 's 47-yard field goal sailed left, it was too little, too late. Why Szymanski was even kicking a 47-yard field goal in the first place is a good question, since Jones called an inside draw on 2nd and 10 -- away from what had been working very well for the SMU offense the entire day -- and the blitz pickup on 3rd and 9 was nonexistent. Those calls didn't put SMU in a position to win, and for that, June Jones must be judged harshly. Grade: D

Final Grade

Anyone who saw the 16-0 lead for Army knew it wasn't going to stay that way for long, and it didn't; SMU made this a game with plenty of time in the fourth quarter, and if it weren't for some odd play calling on the final series, SMU could have easily won. That said, the contest was pretty sloppy at times on both sides, and fans can probably be excused for tuning out before the exciting last few minutes. All that aside, this is a bowl win for Army -- its first in over two decades -- and it's this writer's opinion that success at a traditional power like Army is on the whole a net plus for the sport of college football, so this game was good to see. Grade: B+

 
 
 
 
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