Army Football Game Notes: The VMI Game




WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army will make its final appearance at Michie Stadium on Saturday when it hosts VMI. Kickoff is slated for 12 p.m. The game will be televised by CBS College Sports Network on a tape-delay basis.

The first airing of Saturday's game will be at midnight following the game. It will also be shown at 4 p.m. on Sunday,  Nov. 15.

TELEVISION
Network: CBS College Sports
Play-by-Play: Dave Ryan
Color Analyst: Jason Sehorn
Sideline Reporter: Cadet Dexter Wise

ARMY RADIO
Army Sports Network

  Flagship: WABC (770-AM, New York, N.Y.)
  Affiliates: WALL (1340-AM, Middletown, N.Y.); WEOK (1390-AM, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
Play-by-Play: John Minko
Color Analyst: Dean Darling
Sideline:
Rich DeMarco
Program Host: Bob Outer

The 90-minute “Army Football Tailgate Show,” hosted by Rich DeMarco and Bob Outer begins at 10 a.m. Pre-game coverage starts at 11:30 a.m.

SATELLITE RADIO
The Army Sports Network game broadcast will be carried via Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 152)beginning at 12 p.m.

INTERNET STREAMING
The entire Army Sports Network audio broadcast, including the “Army Football Tailgate Show,” will be streamed live via ITT Knight Vision on www.goARMYsports.com each week. Subscription fees apply.

On Tuesdays of game weeks, Rich Ellerson’s weekly press conference will be video streamed live on ITT Knight Vision. Thursday’s “This Week in Army Football,” show will also be video streamed live. Both events are available only to ITT Knight Vision subscribers.

Saturday's game will be streamed live on CBS Sports' XXL site.

COACHING MATCHUP
ARMY HEAD COACH RICH ELLERSON

  Alma Mater: Hawai’i, 1977
  1st Season at Army (3-6, .333)
  10th Season Overall (63-47, .573)
  Record vs. Air Force: 0-0

VMI COACH SPARKY WOODS
  Alma Mater: Carson-Newman, 1976
  2nd Season at VMI (6-14, .300)
  12th Season Overall (69-60-5, .534)
  Record vs. Army: 0-0

The Black Knights will be going for their third home victory of the season, which would mark the second time in three seasons they have posted at least a .500 home record.

The Black Knights have lost a season-high three straight games after a 35-7 defeat at Air Force last week. The game was tied at 7-7 at halftime, but the Falcons were able to score 28 unanswered points in the second half.

Saturday’s game against the Keydets will feature a pair of option offenses. Army is ranked 13th in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 216.33 rushing  yards per game, while the Keydets are the Football Championship Subdivision’s second-most prolific rushing offense at 254.89 rushing yards per contest.

Army freshman QB Trent Steelman is Army’s top offensive producer with 552 rushing yards (61.3/game) and four rushing scores. He has started all nine games which is an Academy record for freshman quarterbacks. In his first game against a rival service academy, Steelman ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries at Air Force. It was the first 100-yard rushing game by a plebe signal caller in Army history. The Black Knights have run for at least 180 yards in all nine of their games. They have cracked the 200-yard mark four times, going 3-1 in those games. While the yardage production has been there, Army has scored only one touchdown in six consecutive games.

The Army defense ranks 12th in the nation, allowing only 290.56 yards per game. The Black Knights limited Air Force, which entered the game ranked fourth in the country with 275.56 rushing yards per game, to 160 yards on the ground. The Army pass defense has been equally effective, allowing opponents just 169.89 yards per game, the 14th-best average in the nation.

Junior DE Josh McNary had a sack snd 2.5 tackles for loss at Air Force. His Academy record 11.5 sacks is third in the nation (1.28/game), while he leads the nation with 2.11 tackles for loss per game (19.0).

AN ARMY WIN VS. VMI WOULD ...
• End Army’s 13-game losing streak in games played after October.
• End the Black Knights’ three-game losing streak.
• Give the Black Knights four wins in a season for the first time since 2005 (4-7).
• Avoid putting the Black Knights four games under the .500 mark for the first time this season.
• Be Army’s fourth straight win over the Keydets.
• Give the Black Knights a 3-3 home record in 2009
• Be Army’s fourth win in its last five games versus Football Championship Subdivision teams
• Be the 641st win in the 120 seasons of Army football (640-455-51; .581).

SCOUTING THE KEYDETS
VMI head coach Spark Woods is in his second season on the sidelines in Lexington. In his first season, the Keydets doubled their win total from 2007 and led the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing. Woods is in his 12th season as a head coach. He guided Appalachian State for five years (1984-88), taking the Mountaineers to the I-AA playoffs twice and earning three Southern Conference Coach of the Year Honors. He was the head coach at South Carloina from 1989-93. Prior to his arrival at VMI, he was the running backs coach at Alabama from 2003-06.

The Keydets are coming off a 54-14 loss to 16th-ranked Liberty last weekend. VMI turned the ball over eight times in the loss (six fumbles, two interceptions), which led to 30 Flames’ points. The Keydets outgained Liberty, 335-334, including a 250-170 advantage on the ground. Tim Maypray led the team with 87 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries. Howard Abegesah racked up 75 yards on 16 carries. Quarterback Kyle Hughes completed 5-of-10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Byron Allen led the defense with a Big South season-high 17 tackles.

VMI’s spread option is averaging 19.2 points and 335.8 yards per game on offense. The second-ranked rushing team in the NCAA FCS at 254.89 yards per game, 17 of the Keydets’ 22 offensive touchdowns have come on the ground. Abegesah leads the team with 766 yards (85.1/game) and is one of three players with at least five rushing touchdowns. Hughes has run for 530 yards and five scores, while Maypray has accumulated 473 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Hughes has posted a 110.5 pass efficiency rating, completing 45-of-93 passes (48.4 percent) for 682 yards and five touchdowns against eight interceptions. Mario Scott leads the receiving corps with 12 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Bryan Barnson and Maypray have each caught 10 passes. Maypray has two receiving touchdowns.

Defensively, the Keydets’ 3-4 defense is allowing 398.33 yard and 30.44 points per game. Allen has racked up 90 tackles in only nine games, including 2.5 for loss. He also has two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. A.J. Gross is next on the list with 55 total tackles. Emilio Calvin has a team-high 8.0 tackles for loss, while Kris Ware has amassed 3.5 quarterback sacks. Four different players have recorded one interception.

A key matchup on Saturday will be Army’s punt team versus the Keydets’ punt return unit. The Black Knights have had a punt blocked for a score and a punt returned for a touchdown against them in their last two games, while VMI is ranked eighth in the Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 15.29 yards per punt return. Individually, Maypray is tied for ninth in the FCS with 13.67 yards per return.

THE ARMY VS. VMI SERIES

The Black Knights lead the all-time series with the Keydets, 12-1. VMI’s only victory in the series was a 14-7 win at Michie Stadium in 1981.

Army won the last meeting between the two teams, 62-7, at West Point in 2006. Army has won the three meetings since.

All 13 meetings between the two schools have taken place at West Point. The Keydets are scheduled to return to West Point on Oct. 30, 2010.

ARMY VS. THE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION
Prior to the 2007 season, the NCAA enacted new nomenclature to differentiate between the different levels of Divison I football. What was formerly knows as Division I-A is now called the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Division I-AA is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

The divisions split in 1978. Since that time, the Black Knights have played 59 games against the FCS, accumulating a 48-10-1 record. Lafayette has been Army’s most common FCS opponent. The two teams have played 12 times since 1978 with Army winning 11 times.

Army played at least one game against an FCS school from 1978-97. The schedule was solely FBS squads from 1999-2001 before the 2002 team opened against Holy Cross.

The VMI game will mark the fifth consecutive year the Black Knights have played an FCS squad. Army defeated UMass (27-24) in 2005, VMI (62-7) in 2006 and Rhode Island (14-7, OT) in 2007. New Hampshire scored a 28-10 victory at Michie Stadium in 2008.

THE LAST MEETING: ARMY 62, VMI 7 (OCT. 7, 2006)
WEST POINT, N.Y.  —
Jeremy Trimble returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown and caught a TD pass to lead Army to 62-7 victory over VMI, the Black Knights’ highest scoring game in 48 years.
   
Army scored on five of its first six possessions. Wesley McMahand rushed for two touchdowns for the Black Knights, one of five players with a rushing TD for Army.
 
The Black Knights last scored more than 60 points in 1958, when they beat Colgate 68-6. Army coach Bobby Ross graduated from VMI one year later.
   
Sean Mizzer rushed 13 times for 114 yards, including a 68-yard TD run for VMI, which lost its fifth consecutive game.
   
Army did not begin a drive any farther back than VMI’s 40-yard line until its sixth possession. Meanwhile, VMI did not cross midfield until Mizzer’s TD run with 3:44 remaining in the second quarter.
   
The Black Knights totaled 426 yards of offense, while holding the Keydets to 191 yards. Army’s David Pevoto was 9-for-13 passing for 114 yards.
   
Barrett Scruggs forced Mizzer to fumble on VMI’s second play of the game, with Charlie Rockwood pouncing on the loose ball. On the next play, McMahand broke through the middle, slipped a leg tackle and ran into the end zone for a 25-yard score.

SCORING AT A PREMIUM IN RECENT WEEKS
Army has scored first in seven of its nine games this season, including touchdowns on four of its nine initial possessions. Air Force and Temple are the only two teams to take the first lead of the game against the Black Knights this season. Army owns a 43-41 scoring advantage in the first quarter, but has been outscored 175-99 the rest of the way.

Despite the early success, points have been tough to come by for the Black Knights in recent games. Army has not scored more than 16 points in any of the last six games, including a season-low seven markers at Air Force. It is Army’s longest stretch of games below the 17-point threshold since the last three games of the 2006 season and the first three games of the 2007 campaign. It is the first time Army has gone six straight games in the same season without scoring at least 17 points since the 1979 squad had a seven-game stretch. Army’s 72 points in the last six games is its lowest six-game scoring total since 1999 when Army scored 68 points in the final six games of the season.

Army has scored only one touchdown in each of those last six games.

HALF AND HALF
Army has been tied or ahead at halftime in six of its nine games this season. Army’s run of three consecutive halftime leads to start the season marked the first time since the 1996 season that the Black Knights went into the locker room with a lead in at least three consecutive games.

Army led Vanderbilt at intermission, 3-0. The Black Knights are now 11-7 in its last 18 games when leading at halftime, including a 9-3 mark in its last 12 games when leading at the break.

After the loss at Air Force, which was tied at 7-7 at the break, Army has only eight wins since the start of the 2002 season when either tied or trailing at halftime (8-66).

After registering only three victories when trailing at the half from 2002-06 (59 games), the Black Knights have had three second-half comebacks in the last 32 contests since the start of the 2007 campaign.

MAN OF STEEL
Freshman QB Trent Steelman started his ninth straight game in the loss at Air Force, extending his record for starts by an Army freshman quarterback. It is the longest starting streak by an Army quarterback to start a season since Zach Dahman started all 11 games in 2005.

In addition to his record for starts, Steelman also now owns the Academy record for victories by a freshman quarterback. The victory over Vanderbilt was his third win as Army’s starting signal caller. Jerryl Bennett was the last rookie in the modern era (since 1944) to win as many as two games as Army’s starting quarterback in 1978.

Steelman has been Army’s leading rusher in four of the last five games. He had a career-high 102 yards and a touchdown at Air Force. It was the first ever 100-yard rushing game by an Army freshman signal caller and the first time an Army QB cracked the century mark since Chip Bowden’s 128 yards at Texas A&M last season. Steelman’s 42-yard touchdown run at Air Force was his longest run of the season and Army’s longest touchdown run in 2009.

Steelman has posted team-high totals with 150 rushing attempts, 552 yards and four rushing touchdowns. The last quarterback to lead the Black Knights in rushing was Johnny Goff in 1997. The last plebe to top the Army rushing ledger was Carlton Jones in 2002.

In the passing game, Steelman is 29 for 61 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He set career highs with seven completions and 16 attempts in the win over Vanderbilt and passed for a career-best 58 yards in the win against Ball State.

UP NEXT ...
The Black Knights take a trip to the Lone Star State to face North Texas on Nov. 21. It is Army’s final game before taking on arch-rival Navy on Dec. 12. The Black Knights and Big Green have met twice before with Army scoring victories in bouth outings. Army’s last trip to Denton resulted in a 27-10 victory during the 1996 season. The Black Knights defeated North Texas, 25-14, at Michie Stadium in 1997.
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