Practice No. 10: Saturday Afternoon at Michie Stadium

Freshman A.J. Schurr appears to have taken the No. 3 quarterback spot.

Freshman A.J. Schurr appears to have taken the No. 3 quarterback spot.

Aug. 18, 2012

Watch Knight Vision Interview with Terry Baggett

WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Black Knights took the field at Michie Stadium for the first time this season when they held their first intrasquad scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday afternoon. The session last more than two and one-half hours and featured approximately 100 plays.

Saturday’s scrimmage was the last practice of preseason “camp.” The Black Knights will move into the barracks tomorrow and begin fall semester classes on Monday.

Saturday’s Notables –
•    The team portion of the workout started with a special teams period. The punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return sessions did not go fully live.
•    Chris Boldt and Frank Ceva were the punter/snapper combination with the first team. Alex Tardieu and Andrew Ellerson worked with the second team.
•    Josh Jackson and Jon Crucitti were back deep to catch punts.
•    Eric Osteen did his best to win the kickoff job on Saturday. The first of his two kicks was caught six yards deep in the end zone, while his second boot landed out of the end zone. Kickoffs have been moved up to the 35-yard line this season.
•    Crucitti and Stephen Fraser were the kickoff return tandem.
•    The first offense versus defense drill was the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense squaring off. Each down was set at 3rd-and-6. The offense converted three of the six plays on a pass from Trent Steelman to Patrick Laird, a run by Raymond Maples and a run by Steelman.
•    The first offense has held steady since the start of camp. Nick Bennett was working in with Ben Jebb at left tackle. Will Wilson was at center as Ryan Powis sat out the scrimmage with an injury.
•    The Army offense did put the ball on the ground twice during the drill with a mishandled snap and a botched handoff.
•    The second team defense won four of the six plays during their period. A pair of rookies teamed up to cause a turnover when cornerback Chris Carnegie deflected a pass that was caught by Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires. Angel Santiago accounted for both of the offense’s first downs with a scramble and a completion to Anthony Stephens. Santiago’s throw was a strike from the left hash to the right sideline that hit Stephens in stride well beyond the first-down marker.
•    Freshman A.J. Schurr was under center with the third team offense. The offense converted two of their six opportunities on a run by Schurr and a 20-yard run by rookie Marcus Poling.
•    The first offense then took the field against a scout team defense. The drive was highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown run by Terry Baggett.
•    Each possession was ended with field goal tries. Osteen and rookie Dan Grochowski appear to have moved to the front of the line in the kicking race. Osteen was 4-for-8, connecting from 29, 42, 29 and 39 yards out. Grochowski did not miss, but had one of his kicks waved off due to a false start penalty.
•    Schurr was the holder on all of Grochowski’s kicks. In recent years, Army has utilized punters as holders, including Chris Boldt who was holding for Osteen on Saturday.
•    The first team defense then took the field against a scout team offense. Michael Ugenyi and Richard Glover rotated at right tackle. Lyle Beloney took the first snaps at rover for Justin Trimble who sat out with an injury, and Thomas Whittington was the No. 1 rover in place of Hayden Pierce who was also donning a red jersey on Saturday. There were a number of substitutions during the drive. One of the notable groupings had sophomore Derek Sanchez and James Kelly at the two defensive ends. Kelly was recently converted to defense after starting the season on the offensive line. Carnegie, also took snaps with the first team.
•    The second team’s first possession against the scouts featured nice runs by Fraser, Hayden Tippett and Lawrence Scott. Scott was sprung by a good block on the corner from tackle Derek Bisgard. Santiago capped the drive with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Scott Williams, who finished the catch and run by diving over the pylon.
•    Plebes Chris Carnegie (field corner), Fusilier-Jeffires (free safety), Alex Meier (mike linebacker) and Dalton Mendenhall (defensive end) each were on the field for most of the second-team defensive snaps.
•    The No. 1 offense looked much sharper on its next possession which started at the 25-yard line going in. The team reached the end zone on eight of its snaps, including the first two. Raymond Maples went untouched up the middle for 25 yards on the first play before Steelman connected with Laird on the second snap. As the ball moved closer, Baggett reached paydirt three times, while Steelman scored twice. Hayden Tippett crossed the goal line on a short-yardage play.
•    Nate Combs registered a sack when the first defense took the field in the red zone. The scout team scored on the possession when Cody Jackson hit Jay Tully for a touchdown. The defense was running a zone blitz and the defensive end who dropped in coverage lost track of the ball.
•    The No. 2 offense wasn’t to be outdone, scoring on its first play. Jon Crucitti took a handoff and went nearly unchallenged into the end zone.
•    The second team defense’s red zone possession featured a nice hit by defensive tackle Clayton Keller and a forced fumble by Fusilier-Jeffires.
•    Malcolm Brown left the scrimmage with a leg injury, but walked off on his own power without a limp.

Saturday’s Quotables –
Senior LB Nate Combs
(Ref.: how it felt to go live in Saturday’s scrimmage)
“It felt fine. Coach has been having us do a lot of snap and gather, so finally letting us hit was a lot of fun. The defense looked pretty good from my standpoint. We’ll look at film, and Coach Saadat and all the coaches will be hard on us because we’re looking for perfection. I thought the effort was there, and the critical situations went well for us too.”

(Ref.: the emphasis on creating takeaway)
“That was a lot of fun. On that first series there were two out, but I don’t know if we got them though. You also saw a couple of dropped picks, which is unacceptable. It seems like we’re around the ball a lot more than we were last year. Coach has put a lot of emphasis on it.”

(Ref.: working with the defensive line at his position)
“Since I’m on the front, I work with Mike Ugenyi and Bobby Kough a lot. That’s fun having some bigger guys up there. They are coming along pretty well. They’re starting to use their moves. Coach Holmes and Coach Mumford have been working with those guys. We’re working on game speed and giving that perfect effort. As they get their details and start to feel more comfortable, you’ll see great things out of them.”

(Ref.: an explanation of the “bandit” linebacker position)
“It’s a hybrid between the defensive line and the second row. Some people call it a standing noseguard. That’s kind of caught on a little bit. It’s a lot of fun. You get the best of both worlds. I really like it.”

Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: the atmosphere at today’s practice)
“It’s interesting because it’s old habit for some of the older guys and the younger guys have never done anything like this. As it went along we started to have some fun and started to get into a rhythm. If you sit back and watch you can see some of the guys were fighting their legs a little bit. We’re about 10 days into this and it looks like we’ve been on our feet for 10 days. We have to be careful here and try to get ourselves recovered a little bit and get our legs fresh. When you take that many hot reps, snap the ball 100 times or so, with tired legs and you only have one guy with a muscle strain, you have to knock on wood and count yourself fortunate. For some of those guys that’s their first experience. They didn’t know Army football from third base eight or nine days ago, and now they’re out here trying to keep score. Then you have guys like Trent Steelman who is a four-year starter on the same field. There is some real differences in the level of expertise. The good news is that it was fun and a good ending point. We take a short pause and the academic year starts so there is a lot on their plate.”

(Ref.: starting practice a week later than usual)
“It’s not only been a short training camp, but it’s seemed like we’re always doing something else. We’re playing football, but we’re always doing something else. In some ways, that makes sense being that they’re going to be at West Point this year. That’s the way it is here. You’re never going to do just one thing. You’re going to do one thing for awhile and then take a deep breath and get on to something else.”

(Ref.: his assessment of training camp)
“I told the guys that we have a 1,000 miles to go, but we’ve got at least a 1,000 miles behind us. I think we made a lot of progress.”

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