Practice No. 1: Teaching the Basics

Frank Allen is back for his third season as the starter at left guard.

Frank Allen is back for his third season as the starter at left guard.

Aug. 8, 2012

WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Army football officially started its 2012 preparations on Wednesday afternoon with the first practice of the season. The two-hour workout was conducted in helmets and shorts, and was split between the Foley Athletic Center and Howze Field.

As with any first day, there was a lot of teaching going on during the session. Most of the practice was conducted at a walk-thru pace as the coaches installed the fundamental drills that the team will conduct every day.  The offense, defense and special teams did come together for some limited team work, but those sessions also focused on teaching.

Wednesday’s Notables
This afternoon was the first practice for new fullbacks/special teams coach Luke Thompson. Thompson started at West Point just after the completion of spring practice so Wednesday was his first opportunity to get on the field with his new charges. Thompson spent the previous six seasons as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Georgetown.

The depth chart is still obviously in its very early stages and still very fluid, but there were defined first, second and third groups. To no one’s surprise,  QB Trent Steelman took the first snaps. He was joined in the backfield by sophomore FB Larry Dixon, junior C-Back Raymond Maples and sophomore A-Back Terry Baggett. Juniors Patrick Laird and E.J. Tucker were the wideouts with junior Anthony Stephens rotating in regularly. Along the offensive front,  sophomore Ryan Powis was at center, flanked by senior Frank Allen at left guard and sophomore Stephen Shumaker at right guard. Junior Michael Kime and senior Ben Jebb were at right and left tackle, respectively. Junior Dan Whitaker worked in the rotation at both tackle spots.

Senior Will Wilson played multiple positions on Wednesday. He rotated in with Shumaker at right guard and also took snaps at center.

A.J. Schurr was the first freshman quarterback to take a snap during the team drills this season. Schurr is expected to get a chance to compete with Angel Santiago and Gino DeBartolo to set the order of reserves behind Steelman.

 Senior Malcolm Brown took repetitions at wide receiver. Brown started at A-Back last season. Junior Scott Williams was also in the wide receiver line. Williams played in the backfield in 2011.

Defensively, the front, a focus during the spring, was manned by junior Robert Kough and sophomore Joe Drummond at the tackle positions. Junior Holt Zalneraitis was at the whip end spot, while senior Zach Watts and junior Jarrett Mackey, who received another year of eligibility from the NCAA recently, rotated at the quick end position. Sophomore Geoffery Bacon was back at mike linebacker after starting the last half of the 2011 season in that role. Junior Justin Trimble was with the first group at rover, while sophomore Hayden Pierce occupied the sam position. Junior Tyler Dickson and senior Josh Jackson were at the corners, while senior Ty Shrader was the first-group free safety.

Army will begin its regimen of morning practices on Thursday. The team is scheduled to be on the field at 7:40 a.m.

Wednesday’s Quotables
Junior RB Raymond Maples
(Ref.: his take on the offense)
“We’re going to try and score on every play. Last year we showed we had the potential, but this year I think we’re really going to execute.”

(Ref.: how he’ll deal with being the focus of opposing defenses)
“I feel as though I still should have a pretty good season. We have a lot of other offensive players that can carry the load. We have Trent (Steelman, Larry (Dixon), Jared (Hassin), Malcolm Brown – a  lot of players that can shine when they have to. I think everyone should be pretty good.”

Fullbacks/Special Teams Coach Luke Thompson
(Ref.: his first practice at Army)
“It was exciting. I’ve been here for a few months and been around the guys, but to finally get out on the field and be able to do some things was exciting. It was a good first day.”

(Ref.: the Army fullbacks)
“The fullbacks are a talented group with Larry (Dixon) coming back along with Hayden Tippett and Dan McGue. We’re excited about that group and feel it will be a really strong position on the team this year.”

(Ref.: the special teams focus)
“We’re going to stress technique, fundamentals and being able to make plays in space. We talk about creating gamebreakers, whether that’s taking the ball away or setting the offense up with great field position. Those are the things we’re trying to get accomplished on special teams and those are the things we are stressing during camp – fundamentals, technique and the ball.”

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