Army Opens Season At San Diego State

Trent Steelman

Trent Steelman
The Army football team ushers in its 2012 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 8, when the Black Knights travel to the West Coast to face San Diego State at Qualcomm Statdium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. EDT.

NBC Sports Network will broadcast Saturday's contest to a national audience with Paul Burmeister (play by play), Rod Woodson (color analyst) and Anthony Herron (sideline reporter) calling the action.

The Army Sports Network will have the audio call of the game on its flagship station WABC (770-AM), as well as WALL (1340-AM) and WEOK (1390-AM), Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 135) and Knight Vision. Rich DeMarco (play by play), Dean Darling (color analyst) and Tony Morino (sideline reporter) will cover the game on the Army Sports Network.

Live in-game Twitter updates will be provided from the Black Knights' official handle (@ArmyAthletics) and the Army football handle (@Army_Football).

Army finished with a 3-9 record in 2011, but the Black Knights have reason for optimism with so many veterans returning to the fold in 2012. Offensively, Army returns its top seven rushers from last season's team that led the nation in rushing yards per game.

San Diego State (0-1) dropped a 21-12 decision at Washington in its season opener last Saturday. The Aztecs fell behind the Huskies, 14-0, in the first quarter before rallying to within nine points early in the fourth period.

Saturday marks just the second meeting between the Black Knights and the Aztecs on the gridiron. SDSU secured a 23-20 victory in the first-ever matchup last September at West Point.

Army head coach Rich Ellerson shows a 2-1 record against San Diego State, having led Cal Poly to victories over the Aztecs in 2006 and 2008. Ellerson, who is in his third season as the Black Knights' head coach, currently shows a 15-22 record at West Point. He is looking to lead Army to its second bowl appearance in three years this season.

Rocky Long is in his second season as head coach of San Diego State. A 1974 graduate of New Mexico, Long spent 11 seasons as the head coach of his alma mater (1998-2008) before serving as the Aztecs' defensive coordinator for two years. He guided SDSU to an 8-5 record and a berth in the New Orleans Bowl in his first season as the team's head coach in 2011.

Junior RB Raymond Maples, who piled up 1,066 yards on the ground last season, is Army's leading returning rusher. Senior QB Trent Steelman, who rushed for 645 yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns in nine games last year, will direct the Black Knights' triple option offense for a fourth straight season. Steelman also threw for 424 yards and three scores in 2011.

Senior WR Malcolm Brown (572 rushing yards, three touchdowns) and sophomore FB Larry Dixon (542 rushing yards, five touchdowns) figure to play major roles in the Army attack once again this fall. Brown, who has been converted from slotback to wide receiver, is the Black Knights' leading returning pass catcher. He caught seven passes for 163 yards and two TDs a season ago.

Junior linebacker Thomas Holloway is Army's leading returning tackler after registering 76 stops last season. Senior linebacker Nate Combs also returns after posting six tackles for loss, three quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries in 2011.

San Diego State's offense is led by senior quarterback Ryan Katz, who transferred into the program from Oregon State. Katz completed 10-of-19 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown in last week's setback at Washington. The two-way threat also rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries.

Katz' favorite target last Saturday was junior wide receiver Colin Lockett, who hauled in four passes for 48 yards. Junior wide out Tim Vizzi was on the receiving end of Katz' 47-yard TD pass that put the Aztecs on the scoreboard early in the second quarter.

Senior running back Walter Kazee paced San Diego State on the ground, rushing nine times for 86 yards.

Senior defensive back Leon McFadden and junior defensive back Nat Berhe paced the Aztecs defensively at Washington last weekend, posting eight tackles apiece. Berhe also added a forced fumble.

Following Saturday's game versus San Diego State, Army hosts Northern Illinois in its home opener at Michie Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15. The contest, which will be televised to a national audience on CBS Sports Network, is slated to kick off at 12 p.m.

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