Army Continues Busy Spring Practice Slate

Angel Santiago

Angel Santiago

Feb. 29, 2012

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team conducted its ninth practice of the spring season on Wednesday morning inside Foley Athletic Center. The Black Knights also worked out extensively on Howze Field for a portion of the workout.

Chilly temperatures greeted the Army players as they made the short trek from the team's locker room in Kimsey Athletic Center and across Howze Field to Foley Athletic Center. The 75-minute session, which was conducted in full pads, was preceded by a 15-minute workout in the weight room.

Twenty-two Army players donned red jerseys and did not participate in full-contact drills during Wednesday's session. Being without so many players has hindered the team's development, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

"We're getting some great stuff, but what's frustrating is that we have so many offensive skill guys unable to practice due to injury," said Army head coach Rich Ellerson. "We have a few guys with strains and sprains that we would like to get back on the field soon. We've stayed relatively healthy on defense, but we can't quite take advantage of each other. That's been a little bit frustrating, but hopefully we'll have a chance to get ourselves well before we get into the weekend. We have another really good physical, combative, competitive weekend on tap as we head into the last week of spring."

Ellerson is particularly pleased with the development of Army's defensive line.

"The defensive front is a group has really stood out during the spring," said Ellerson. "We've made some early gains there that have a chance to really impact the scoreboard."

Wednesday's Practice Notes

• Today's practice started at approximately 7:15 a.m., and lasted until 8:30 a.m. The 75-minute workout was fast paced.

Brian Austin, Terry Baggett, Frank Ceva, Jared Hassin, Clayton Keller, Jarrett Mackey, Anthony Stephens and Trenton Turrentine were among the 22 Army players wearing red "no contact" jerseys during Wednesday's practice.

• The workout began with Army players engaging in a myriad of special teams drills. One drill featured two defenders trying to rip a flag off of an offensive player, who attempted to evade the would-be tacklers.

• Army's quarterbacks practiced the mesh with the fullbacks. They alternated between giving the ball to the fullback and pulling it out and running with it.

• Defensive players rotated a series of three or four stations working on reading the options, stripping the football, fighting off blocks and using the blocking sleds.

• Running backs and wide receivers engaged in a drill where they would throw a series of blocks. They began the drill by throwing a low, diving block into a tackling dummy, before jumping back up and slamming into an Army player who was holding a blocking pad.

• Army players engaged in a high-spirited one-on-one tackling drill for about five minutes. During the drill, Raymond Maples made a slick move to avoid a hit from Marcus Jackson.

• The quarterbacks threw a variety of passes to both wide receivers and running backs. Trent Steelman hit Patrick Laird down the right sideline during the drill.

• Army defensive backs then joined the drill to provide a more realistic, game-like look for the players.

• During that portion of the drill, Angel Santiago rolled out to the left and hit Ross McDonald with a pass down the left sideline. The completion drew praise from Army offensive coordinator Ian Shields.

• Later during that same drill, Steelman lofted a pass 20 yards down the sideline to Laird on a nice fade route.

• Army's offense got together as a group and practiced running the option for approximately 10 minutes during the middle of the practice.

• Army's next practice will be held on Friday, March 2.

Wednesday's Quotables
Junior RB Raymond Maples
(Ref.: impressions of spring practice)
"Everything is going well. I just came off a little thigh injury and I'm good to go now. Everything is falling into place."

(Ref.: how it feels to take off the red jersey and participate in full contact drills)
"It feels really great, especially coming off of last season. We have a lot to grow from. I put in a lot of hard work during the offseason and I can't wait to get out there on the field."

(Ref.: increased role in the passing game)
"I definitely enjoy going out there in the passing game, especially since I know how to catch. I like being able to use all of my tools."

(Ref.: playing the spring game at Fort Benning)
"I'm really looking forward to it, especially because we have a lot of events for us to do. We get to see a real basic training graduation, we get to hang out with some real soldiers and we get to see a part of the real Army life. And, we get to play down in Atlanta, so, even though our spring game is early, we'll get to play in some nice weather. I'm really looking forward to it."

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