Army Continues Spring Preparations

Angel Santiago accounted for the offense's longest play of Saturday's scrimmage.

Angel Santiago accounted for the offense's longest play of Saturday's scrimmage.

March 3, 2012

Watch Practice Report

WEST POINT, N .Y. - Army held its most competitive practice of the spring on Saturday morning inside the Foley Athletic Center. After their normal warm-up and individual work, the Black Knights held a two-part scrimmage for the remainder of the two-hour workout.

The first part of the scrimmage featured the offense versus a scout-team defense and vice versa. After several possessions working with that format, the scrimmage switched to an "Army vs. Army" session. While the plays were run at full speed and with live blocking, Army's skill position wore flags and were not taken to the ground.

"We're not rushing around on the weekends so we can take some time and get a scout look for our offense and a scout look for our defense, and then play against each other some," head coach Rich Ellerson said. "We have just enough skill guys to be able to do something like this. We're frustrated because of our skill situation. Frankly, it's just at those positions. We've got a lot of hungry defenders waiting for an opportunity, and they're hard to come by. We had a lot of fun today. We kept score and managed to stay well. That was encouraging."

Practice Notes
•    The wide receiver and running back positions continued to be limited by injuries. Chevaughn Lawrence, Zach Williams, Anthony Stephens, Jared Hassin, Terry Baggett and Stephen Fraser were all in read and did not participate in Saturday's scrimmage.
•    During the No. 1 offense's first series against a scout defense, Larry Dixon scored untouched on a 20-yard touchdown run.
•    Will Wilson worked with the first unit at right tackle.
•    Michael Cermak made several plays for the scout team defense, including two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
•    Jacob Drozd worked at the whip linebacker position during the defense's turn against a scout offense.
•    The offense did not fumble or commit a turnover during the entire workout.
•    Angel Santiago accounted for the longest play of the day with a 50-yard touchdown run during the No. 2 offense's chance to compete against the scout defense.
•    The offense won the Army vs. Army scrimmage, 33-23. The offense scored points in the normal manner - six for a touchdown, three for a field goal and one for an extra point. The defense received four points for limiting the offense to a field goal and seven for a stop.
•    The offense scored points on all but the final possession when a bad snap prevented a field goal attempt.
•    The scrimmage started with the No. 2 defense versus the No. 2 offense. Julian Crockett put the offense on the board with a touchdown.
•    Billy Fisher hit three field goal attempts, including a 45-yarder.
•    Eric Osteen made his only field goal attempt.
•    Trent Steelman made a nice throw that nearly resulted in a long touchdown. Steelman was flushed to his left and threw deep into the back corner of the end zone, but the ball glanced off Raymond Maples' hands for an incompletion.
•    A Santiago to Michael Hudson pass play set up Crockett's second touchdown of the scrimmage.
•    Gino DeBartolo threw a touchdown pass to Robert Wright for the offense's final score.
•    The Black Knights will not practice on Sunday. Army will work out Tuesday and Thursday of next week before departing for Fort Benning. The Black/Gold Game will be played at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Saturday's Quotables
Senior DE Zach Watts
(Ref.: evaluating today's scrimmage)
"I think it went pretty well. We definitely look a lot better than we did when we started. Everyone is comfortable with the system so we're a lot better."

(Ref.: the play of the defensive line)
"We have gotten a lot better than when we started, and I think we're about as good as we can be at this point in spring ball. Obviously, there are still things to iron out and improve on, but we've made progress."

(Ref.: the absence of Jarett Mackey)
"He brings a lot to the table, and he's the captain, but it's still the Army defense. We're still going to function."

Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: using flags on the skill players)
"We're just trying to keep more players on their feet at the end of the play. The blocks are still live, the contact is still live. We've done it off and on through the spring as a way to keep bodies off the ground. Obviously, those are off next week. We're going to play. It's something we're experimenting with. We've got to find a way to be as physical and fast as we can possibly be, but also have a sense of competition. The nice thing about the flags is that everything you do with leverage is still good. I think it sets you up for success in a tackling situation. We experience tackling every day, we just do it in a controlled environment. I'm just looking for ways to practice fast, keep score, compete, have fun, yet not get too many people banged up."

(Ref.: playing the spring game in different locations in future years)
"I don't know. I think it's going to be such a hit. The NCAA has to think it's okay. We got an exception this year. I can't imagine that this isn't a positive that a lot of teams may embrace. Obviously, our relationship with the larger Army is unique, but this may be an important precedent. I'm not sure how the NCAA will see it. My intent wasn't for it to turn into a rock show, but for our team to experience a great post and be around soldiers. For our younger players, their whole image of the Army is centered at West Point. This is a chance for them to go out and experience the destination and get a snapshot of what it looks like. That's' a positive for our guys in terms of their development, and it's a positive for relationship between Army Football and the larger Army."

(Ref.: Not turning the ball over during the scrimmage)
"That's huge. I told the guys afterward, if you're not penalized, which we were just a tad, and you don't turn the ball over, you're hard to stop. With what we do and who we have touching the ball, that's hard to beat. "



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