Feb. 25, 2012
Watch Practice Report
WEST POINT, N .Y. - The Black Knights held their sixth spring practice of the season on Saturday morning inside the Foley Athletic Center. Saturday's practice was the longest and most physical of the sessions so far, lasting more than two hours.
After their usual warm-up and set of offensive, defensive and special teams circuits, the focus of the practice became the defense. For the majority of the workout, the Army offense simulated more conventional offenses that the Black Knights will face during the season, including tight ends, an I-formation look and some four wide-receiver sets.
"We're trying to take advantage of the weekends where we don't have a drop-dead moment," head coach Rich Ellerson said after Saturday's practice. "We can practice longer than an hour and 40 minutes. One of the challenges we have is running a conventional offense against our defense. The set up for that and the resources that have to be committed in order to get something like that done lend itself to an open-ended practice where you can take your time and get it right. The entire offense spent most of the day doing just that, trying to give our defense a great look at some conventional offense in a semi-hot environment. It never looks good because the offense will always control the tempo and it looks a little bit ratty because the guys with the ball are doing something they don't normally do.
"Tomorrow, we'll flip the emphasis. Our defense will be playing other people's defenses. That doesn't look nearly as bad because it's a little easier to play that card and you can transfer those techniques. We'll keep score tomorrow too. It'll be hot, and we'll get on the ground some. The emphasis will be on our offense."
During the punting portion of special teams, Chris Boldt was the only Army kicker taking reps. The long snappers were Richard Rainey and Hayden Pierce. Josh Jackson and Anthony Stephens worked on the return side. Patrick Laird was the only offensive player on the first punt team.
Robert Kough went through the workout with very noticeable intensity. During a one-on-one drill with the offensive line, he was able to defeat his blocker by throwing him to the ground.
During a 9-on-9 inside drill, the Black Knights offense simulated conventional formations against the Army defense. The first nine players to line up defensively were Holt Zalneraitis (DE), Jacob Drozd (DT), Robert Kough (DT), Zach Watts (DE), Corey Watts (Whip), Geoffery Bacon (MLB), Hayden Pierce (SS), Justin Trimble (Rover), Ty Shrader (FS).
The defense forced two fumbles during the drill, including one on the first play.
WR Michael Hudson made a nice over-the-shoulder catch while keeping his feet inbounds on a deep sideline pass during the WR vs. DB portion of practice.
Nate Combs, Joe Drummond, Malcolm Brown, Scott Williams, Tony Giovanelli, Brian Austin and Matt Villanti were among the players in sweats and a red jerseys not participating in Saturday's practice.
Pat Laird made a one-handed grab on a corner rout during the skeleton offense versus defense period. Laird also hauled in what would have been a 50-yard touchdown pass from Trent Steelman.
Chevaughn Lawrence and Anthony Stephens also made impress catches.
Hayden Pierce went over an Army wideout to record an interception during the drill.
When Army's offense was using its own playbook, Larry Dixon, Terry Baggett and Raymond Maples comprised the first-team backfield.
The session ended with an Army vs. Army period. Both the offense and defense were running their usual systems. The ball was placed inside the 20-yard line. The offense got points for scoring, while the defense got points for stops and limiting the offense to a field goal.
After a 14-yard pass from Trent Steelman to Larry Dixon on the first play of the first possession, a run by Terry Baggett put the ball on the 1-yard line. Corey Watts came up with a big stop on the next play, pushing Stephen Fraser back four yards. The offense settled for a 21-yard field goal by Eric Osteen.
The Army offense got on the board on the second play of the next possession when Chevaughn Lawrence caught an 18-yard scoring pass from Steelman. Lawrence was wide open on a slant route and carried the ball the final few yards. Billy Fisher kicked the extra point.
The Army offense had to settle for another field goal try on the final possession, but Osteen's 30-yard attempt was wide right.
Army's next practice is Sunday, Feb. 26.
Head Coach Rich Ellerson
(Ref.: having DT Robert Kough back)
"He plays hard, and he has fun. This is practice six for us and only our third time running into each other a little bit so that's good to see. He didn't forget much. He knows how to get in and out of his stance. Certainly, there's some rust that needs to come off, but it's great to see him out here healthy and physical. (Having Kough back) we're able to move (Holt) Zalneraitis out to defensive end where he belongs."
(Ref.: the defensive line play this spring)
"There are some other guys that have really stepped up. I'm really impressed with Richard Glover coming out of the gate. He's lost some weight, and he's really moving well. He's doing a nice job in there as well. Shane Finnane is doing a nice job. There are some good young guys up front. I'm encouraged by Mike Ugenyi. He's starting to get his legs underneath him, and you can already see the physical maturity starting to resolve itself. He's much more athletic than he was just a couple of months ago."
(Ref. the upcoming practice schedule)
"We're going to practice six times in the next eight days. This next period is really going to be important for this team's development. For us as coaches, we need to identify who the players are, and for the players to fundamentally make sure they know what right looks and feels like. Then we have a couple of days to get ready to go down to Georgia and play."
Junior DT Robert Kough
(Ref.: the defensive focused practice)
"We were able to get out there and work on our assignments, trying to get a good fit. We were really working hard out there."
(Ref.: his high-energy style of play)
"It's just my flair. In order for me to be the best player that I can be, it's what I have to do."
(Ref.; getting back on the field after missing last season)
"It feels good to be out here playing again. My mind is clear and I'm having a good time."
(Ref.: the defense's focus this spring)
"The coaches are really emphasizing takeaways this spring. We need to get the ball out. Up front, we are working on our assignments and just trying to play hard, physical and fast."