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September 10, 2013

First Look: Army

No. 5 Stanford (1-0) will play its first road game of the 2013 season on Saturday when they face Army (1-1).

The Black Knights opened the season with a 28-12 victory over Morgan State, but fell 40-14 to Ball State last weekend.

Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Charles Grevious, the publisher of GoBlackKnights.com, to learn more about Army football.

Cardinal Sports Report: What's the feeling like around the Army program after the first two games of the season? Is there an extra buzz with such a highly ranked opponent coming into town?

Charles Grevious: Inside the ranks of the coaching staff, there was plenty of optimism after the season opening win over Morgan State. However, last week's meltdown against Ball State has some wondering which team will show up against Stanford. The players themselves realize they missed an opportunity against Ball State to quiet the critics, but have made it clear that last weekend's game is in the rearview mirror and the focus is now Stanford.

This is surely a buzz around the 4th ranked Cardinal squad coming to Michie Stadium.

But the approach and attitude that the team is taking is different. "For us and I will steal something from Coach Spencer [Todd], whereby every week we are playing a faceless opponent," explained offensive lineman and captain, Michael Kime. "We shouldn't do anything different from when we play Morgan State or when we play Stanford. Every week we just have to go out there and focus on what we do and execute as best as we can and everything will fall into place. Yes there's an added sense of hype .... a lot of people are tell us, oh it's Stanford and are you going to pass more, blah, blah, blah. All those voices don't really matter to us, all we have to worry about are the eleven guys on the field."

CSR: It's widely known that Army runs an unconventional triple option offense. Can you shed any additional light on Army's offensive players to watch, and what needs to happen for the Army offense to be effective?

CG: Senior slotback Raymond Maples is the mainstay, along fullback Larry Dixon.

Maples finished his sophomore campaign 26th in the nation in rushing, as he compiled 1,066 yards with an impressive 7.30 avg., which put him in the top three in the country in that category. Then in 2012 he followed with 1,215 yards on the ground (5.45 avg.).

Dixon, who is a junior continues to emerge offensively and surely someone that the Stanford defensive staff is aware of.

However, the key word here is "effective" and no matter who is under center .... Angel Santiago or A.J. Schurr, their decision making in running the option will determine the effectiveness of it or lack there of, especially against a very active and potent Stanford run defense.

CSR: Stanford has one of the best run defenses in college football. Do you anticipate Army relying on its passing attack more than usual, or do you think the Black Knights will stick to the run components of their offense?

CG: The Black Knights' offense comes as advertised, which is a triple option through and through, so don't expect any deviation from the norm. However, the addition of frosh Xavier Moss and emergence of Chevaughn Lawrence at the wide receiver spots have provided Army with an arsenal that has been missing over the past few years.

"Obviously we're still an option football team and we're not going to turn into an arial circus, but having that presence there ... that will change the outcome of some games I think, as we mature as a receiving group." - Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson

CSR: What type of defense does Army run? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Who are some of the defensive playmakers to watch?

CG: The Black Knights run a Double-Eagle Flex scheme. The strengths of this year's defense has yet to truly manifest themselves to date. Army's "D" yielded 40 points in a 40-14 loss last week at Ball State and will need to be operating on all cylinders to slow down Stanford's offense.

Geoffery Bacon has made the transition from linebacker to free safety. His on field swagger, production and talent, make him a leader by example. The 6-foot-0, 210 pounders is one of the top tacklers in the nation where he averages 10.0 per game. Bacon has the potential to be on par with any safety in the nation.

CSR: What must happen for Army to pull the upset?

CG: This may sound like a football cliche, but it could not be more sure in this contest than perhaps any other opponent on the Black Knights' 2013 schedule.

Both offensively and defensively, the Black Knights must execute the plays and schemes at the optimal levels.

In Army's win over Morgan State, they played error free football, which netted out to zero penalties or turnovers. However, the same could not be said in the loss to Ball State. If an upset is in the cards, discipline and error free football will have to be Army's calling card for the afternoon.

My guess is that Stanford's defense will have 7-8 in the box and dare Army to throw. If the Black Knights are going to have any offensive success, they must be willing to allow the pass to be part of their arsenal and do so successfully.

Finally, Army's defense front must play within themselves or more so, within the schemes of the Flex-defense.


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