WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team will play its second consecutive home game this Saturday when the Black Knights host North Texas at Michie Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.
The game falls on "Hall of Fame Weekend" and the 2010 inductees into the Army Sports Hall of Fame will be honored throughout the day. The first 5,000 ticketed fans who pass through the gates at Michie Stadium will receive a limited edition Hall of Fame print.
The game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports Network with Dave Ryan (play by play), Jason Sehorn (color analyst) and Cadet Katie Murphy (sideline reporter) calling the action. A live video stream of the game will be available via CBS College Sports XXL (www.cbssports.com).
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 152) and ITT 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.
Army (1-1) enters Saturday's contest fresh off a 31-28 setback to Hawai'i last week. The Black Knights trailed the Warriors 21-0 early in the second quarter before reeling of 28 straight points to take a 28-21 advantage in the third quarter. Hawai'i tied the game later in the third period, and the Warriors kicked the game-winning field goal with just seven seconds to play in the fourth quarter as they cashed in a late Army fumble.
North Texas (0-2) comes into this weekend's action still searching for its first win of the young season. The Mean Green dropped a 32-31 decision to Rice last Saturday, losing a fourth-quarter lead in the process. North Texas outgained Rice 420-351 in the game, but three Mean Green turnovers led to the final outcome.
Army head coach Rich Ellerson, who is in his second season leading the Black Knights, presently shows a 6-8 record at West Point. North Texas head coach Todd Dodge has struggled since taking over the Mean Green program prior to the 2007 campaign, authoring a 5-33 overall record in three-plus seasons in Denton, Texas.
Army and North Texas have met three times previously, with the Black Knights winning all three matchups. The Black Knights rallied for a 17-13 road victory over the Mean Green last season, despite being outgained 447-287.
Ellerson knows how dangerous North Texas can be, and he's expects the Mean Green to pose a tough challenge on Saturday.
"Obviously, we saw these guys a year ago and most of that defense that gave us fits last year returns," said Ellerson at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "They return seven starters, I think, and at least nine guys that played a significant role. Offensively, while they've had some injuries, they are more like an Eastern Michigan than they are a Hawai'i in terms of their approach. They are especially well-led by coach (Todd) Dodge. They'll give themselves a great chance. They have a running back who can take the game over in (Lance) Dunbar. This is going to be a tough deal because it's still an uphill fight physically."
The Black Knights' rushing offense has continued to dominate the competition in 2010, averaging 279.5 yards per game through the first two weeks of the season. Army has relied on a myriad of players to get the job done as five different Black Knights are averaging better than 37 yards per game.
Sophomore fullback Jared Hassin has been particularly impressive in the early going, leading the squad in rushing yards per game (75.0) and total touchdowns (four). He rumbled for 68 yards and three TDs in the team's season-opening victory at Eastern Michigan before adding 83 yards and another score last week against Hawai'i.
Senior slotback Patrick Mealy and sophomore slotback Malcolm Brown have been extremely efficient with their opportunities, as both backs are averaging more than 5.0 yards per rush. Brown scored the first two touchdowns of his career last week against Hawai'i, helping the Black Knights overcome their early 21-0 deficit.
Sophomore quarterback Trent Steelman, who has started each of Army's last 14 games, is still penciled in as the Black Knights' starter despite leaving the Hawai'i game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Steelman, a ferocious competitor, seems poised to play against North Texas this week, but if he's unable to suit up, junior signal caller Max Jenkins will be ready to go.
Jenkins came on to replace the injured Steelman against Hawai'i and played well. On his first-ever snap at quarterback, Jenkins rushed for his first career touchdown as Army took a 28-21 lead. He finished with 29 yards rushing and 20 yards passing, but the way he directed the offense is what has Ellerson most impressed.
"I was so proud of Max (Jenkins) coming into the (Hawai'i) game and doing what he did," said Ellerson. "Obviously, he'd like to have a play back, but I think that was really remarkable when you think about how much pressure he was under and how little he's played. We always brag about how he's able to internalize things in practice, and clearly that was the case. I think that is laudable."
Army has begun to develop a couple of quality options at the wide receiver position in sophomore George Jordan and junior Davyd Brooks. Jordan was the team's primary target against Eastern Michigan (three receptions for 34 yards), while Brooks was the squad's leading receiver versus Hawai'i (three catches for 49 yards).
North Texas features a prolific offense that can succeed both on the ground and through the air. The Mean Green has been led by senior quarterback Nathan Tune, who is averaging 262.5 passing yards per game with four aerial touchdowns through two games. Tune was injured in North Texas' loss to Rice last week, however, and will miss Saturday's contest.
Sophomore quarterback Derek Thompson, who has completed 5-of-7 passes for 40 yards in two games this fall, figures to step into the starting role versus Army this weekend. Sophomore Riley Dodge, who started at QB against Army last fall, may see some repetitions on Saturday as well.
Senior wide receiver Jamaal Jackson has paced the Mean Green in receiving so far this season as he leads the team with seven catches and 134 receiving yards through two contests. Sophomore wideout Darius Carey has been a steady pass catcher for North Texas in the early going as well with six receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Junior running back Lance Dunbar has been a dual threat for North Texas out of the backfield in 2010 as the third-year playmaker leads the team in rushing (110.5 yards per game) while listing fourth on the squad in receiving (40.5 yards per game). He may have to step up his production in the absence of Tune.
The Army defense struggled against the run in its season opener at Eastern Michigan, but the Black Knights fixed that problem last week against Hawaii, limiting the Warriors to just 10 yards on the ground. The 10 net rushing yards allowed are the fewest given up by an Army team since the 1989 season.
Senior linebacker Stephen Anderson leads the team with 15 tackles, while senior defensive end Josh McNary tops the club with 3.0 quarterback sacks. McNary, who was named to the preseason watch list for the Nagurski Lott and Lombardi awards, posted three sacks and a forced fumble against Hawaii last week, extending his own Academy sack record to 21.
Senior defensive back Donnie Dixon paces the Black Knights' secondary with 10 stops, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
The North Texas defense, which is surrendering 33.5 points per game, has had its hands full against both the run and the pass through two contests. The Mean Green is giving up an average of 176.0 rushing yards per game and 211.0 passing yards per game.
UNT is led on the defensive side of the ball by senior linebacker Craig Robertson, who has posted a team-high 19 tackles and also intercepted a pass. Sophomore linebacker Jeremy Phillips lists second on the Mean Green with 14 stops, including 2.0 tackles-for-loss. He has also recorded one quarterback sack and an interception.
Army will take to the road next weekend when the Black Knights travel to Durham, N.C., to take on Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Duke. The Black Knights and Blue Devils will be meeting for the second straight season. Last year, Duke came into Michie Stadium and left with a 35-19 victory, thanks in large part to a pair of fourth quarter interception return touchdowns.
Full season, mini-plan and single-game tickets for all Army home contests are currently on sale at the Army Ticket Office, by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY or online at www.goARMYsports.com. Full season ticket packages in a special section dubbed "Coach E's Army," begin at just $99 for lower-deck seating locations in Michie Stadium. Fans who purchase tickets in that section will receive a special "Coach E's Army" T-shirt. A limited number of tickets remain available to Army's game against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. In order to purchase Army-Notre Dame tickets, fans must hold membership in the Army "A" Club and purchase 2010 Army football season tickets.