WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Army football team returns to Michie Stadium for a Homecoming matchup against Tulane, Saturday at noon at Michie Stadium.
The Black Knights stand 2-2 while the Green Wave, 1-2, play their first road game of the 2009 season. Army opened the season with a 27-14 win at Eastern Michigan, lost to Duke 35-19, beat Ball State, 24-17, and then fell to Iowa State, 31-10, last weekend.
Tulane lost to Tulsa 37-13 and nationally ranked BYU 54-3 before posting its first win, 42-32 against McNeese State last weekend. The Green Wave had a bye week between the BUY and McNeese State contests and will travel for the first time this season.
Army and Tulane are meeting for 17th time in a series that dates back to a scoreless tie in 1953. Tulane holds an 8-7-1 margin in the all-time series, though the Black Knights have won the last two matchups. In 2007, Owen Tolson kicked a field goal in overtime for a 20-17 win, after a dramatic “Hail Mary” pass from Kevin Dunn to Mike Wright forced the extra session. Last year in New Orleans, Army posted a 44-13 win.
The Black Knights will celebrate their Homecoming on Saturday and the first 5,000 fans through the Gates of Michie Stadium will receive an Army mini-helmet.
Kickoff is set for noon and CBS College Sports (Time Warner Cable Hudson Valley, Channel 457; Direct TV Channel 613; Dish Network Channel 152) will carry the game nationally on a tape-delayed basis with Dave Ryan and Jason Sehorn calling the action. The game will be shown on CBS College Sports Saturday at 11:30 p.m.
In addition, the Army Sports Network will have the audio call of the game on flagship station WABC (770-AM) as well as WALL (1340-AM) and WEOK (1390-AM), XM (channel 104) and Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 127). An in-game blog (goARMYsports.com) and in-game twitter updates (twitter.com/ArmyAthletics) provide another avenue for fans to follow the action.
“Tulane is coming out of a bye week where they spent some time on us, which is a compliment I could do without,” said Army first-year head coach Rich Ellerson. “Tulane has the ability to control field position with some offensive playmakers.”
A look at the matchups: QUARTERBACK Army freshman Trent Steelman is expected to be under center on Saturday but don’t be surprised to see junior Chip Bowden or senior Carson Williams. Steelman (6-0, 185) has started all four games and has rushed 53 times for 148 yards. He has completed 10-of-23 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Bowden (6-0, 211) saw his most extensive action of the season last week. He has thrown for 87 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 42 yards. Williams (6-3, 212) has thrown for 91 yards and a touchdown in two games.
Tulane sophomore Joe Kemp (6-4, 215) is charged with running the multiple offensive sets of the Green Wave. He has completed 69% of his passes (40-of-58) for 601 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
IN THE BACKFIELD Army is averaging 239 rushing yards per contest and 12 different players have earned carries. Patrick Mealy (5-8, 203) who has been moved to fullback from slotback, has a team-best 290 yards on 30 carries. He averages 9.7 yards per carry and a team-high 72.5 yards per game. Backup fullback Kingsley Ehie (5-10, 221) has 42 carries for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns while slotback Jameson Carter (5-11, 187) has 155 yards and two scores.
Senior Andre Anderson (6-0, 212) paces the Tulane rushing game with 284 yards on 59 carries. He averages 4.8 yards per carry and 94.7 yards per game with four touchdowns and is coming off of a 199-yard performance against McNeese State. Antoine Duplessis (6-2, 262) is the fullback.
“Obviously, we're looking forward to the challenge,” said Tulane head coach Bob Toledo. “I'm looking forward to going on the road and going back to West Point, it's a beautiful place with great atmosphere and a great tradition. I have the utmost respect for the Academy. My son-in-law went to the Air Force Academy so I know what they have to go through. It's difficult being a football player there. So, they do a great job.”
WIDE RECEIVERS Four different receivers have receptions for the Black Knights, including converted tackle Alejandro Villanueva (6-10, 283). Villanueva leads the team in catches (12), yards (191), yards per catch (15.9) and touchdowns (three). Damion Hunter (5-10, 166) has nine catches for 74 yards, Carter has three grabs for 34 yards and Austin Barr (6-4, 2003) has two catches for 16 yards.
Tulane’s Jeremy Williams (6-1, 205) has a team-best 20 catches for 417 yards and two touchdowns. He averages 20.9 yards per catch and 139 per game. Casey Robottom (5-11, 177) has eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown while Anderson has five catches for 49 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE Army is ninth in the country in rushing offense at 239.75 yards per contest and the offensive line has been a big reason why. Center Zachary Peterson (6-1, 267), right guard Seth Reed (6-1, 275) and tackle Jason Johnson (6-3, 257) have started all four games while tackle Brad Kelly (6-5, 240) and guard Joe Bailey (6-2, 283) have played in each contest.
For the second consecutive week, Army will face a huge offensive line. Tulane’s front five is led by left tackle Pete Hendrickson (6-8, 306). Nick Landry (6-7, 295) is the other tackle with guards Hunter Howden (6-4, 277) and Zach Morgan (6-2, 295) and center Andrew Nierman (6-1, 294).
DEFENSIVE LINE Army is allowing 108 rushing yards per game and its front four has combined for 19 tackles for loss. End Josh McNary (6-1, 225) leads the way with 8.5 tackles for loss and 26 tackles while Victor Ugenyi (6-3, 262) has 6.0 tackles for loss. Fellow tackle Mike Gann (6-2, 275) has two tackles for loss and end Bradley Marren (6-1, 246) has 2.5. Broghan Carnes (6-2, 250), Chris Swain (6-3, 260) and Marcus Hilton (6-0, 247) provide depth up front.
Tulane runs a four-man front and is allowing 219 rushing yards per game. End Logan Kelly (6-2, 246) has 11 tackles and a pair of sacks while fellow end Adam Kwentua (6-3, 251) has 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Tackles Reggie Scott (6-4, 272) and Oscar Ponce de Leon (6-2, 305) help slowing the rushing games.
LINEBACKERS Army’s three starting linebackers are among the top five tacklers on the squad. Stephen Anderson (5-10, 229) has a team-high 34 tackles while Steve Erzinger (6-1, 215) has 21 stops and a pair of tackles for loss. Andrew Rodriguez (6-3, 210) has 19 tackles in his first year as a starter. Chad Thayer (6-0, 198), Bill Prosko (6-2, 215), Kyler Martin (6-2, 200) and Sean Westphal (6-1, 210) may also figure into the mix.
Tulane’s Travis Burke (6-0, 215) is second on the team with 23 tackles to pace the linebacking corps. David Kirksey (6-1, 224) has a sack and 21 tackles and Shakiel Smith (6-0, 185) has 19 stops.
SECONDARY Donovan Travis (6-1, 190) leads the Black Knights with three interceptions and 73 return yards from his safety spot. Fellow safety Desmond Lamb (6-2, 193) has earned a starting role while corners Mario Hill (6-0, 1765) and Antuan Aaron (5-9, 193) round out the starting unit. Hill has an interception and 12 tackles while Aaron has started all four games. Joshua Jackson (5-11, 175), Donnie Dixon (6-0, 196), Jordan Trimble (5-10, 190), Chase Prasnicki (6-1, 212) and Brian Cobbs (5-11, 185) provide depth in the secondary.
Tulane’s leading tackler is safety Chinonso Echebelem (6-1, 208) with 29 tackles and an interception as well as two forced fumbles while fellow safety Alex Wacha (6-0, 186) has 20 tackles. Cornerbacks Phillip Davis (5-10, 173) and Charles Harris (6-3, 190) have teamed for 23 stops.
SPECIAL TEAMS Army’s Jonathan Bulls (6-1, 217) is averaging 40.3 yards per punt while Matthew Campbell (5-9, 195) is averaging 58.1 yards per kickoff. Alex Carlton (6-0, 186) has converted 4-of-6 field goals with a long of 45 yards and all five of his conversion kicks. Hunter handles the bulk of the return duties and is averaging 18.7 yards per kick return and 2.3 yards per punt return.
Tulane’s special teams boasts kicker Ross Thevenot (6-0, 185). The senior is averaging 37.7 yards per punt, has made 3-of-4 field goals with a long of 29 yards and all seven conversion kicks. D.J. Banks (5-9, 175) has returned eight kickoffs and averages 17.4 yards per return while Payten Jason (5-11, 193) averages 20 yards on seven returns.
UP NEXT Army will wrap up its brief two-game homestand with Vanderbilt next weekend at noon at Michie Stadium. The Army Athletic Association will hold “‘Doc’ Blanchard Day.” Blanchard will become the fourth Army player to have his uniform number officially retired, joining fellow Heisman Trophy winners Glenn Davis (41) and Pete Dawkins (24), along with Joe Steffy (61) in that select grouping. The first 5,000 fans entering Michie Stadium that day will receive a Doc Blanchard bobblehead.
Individual game tickets for the Vanderbilt and VMI contests can be purchased for just $29 per seat. In addition, fans can purchase a Rutgers ticket package for $49 per seat. This two-pack includes a ticket to the game versus the Scarlet Knights plus the VMI contest.
Ticket orders can be placed online at www.goARMYsports.com, in person at the Holleder Center Box Office, or by phone at 1-877-TIX-ARMY. Flexible payment plans are available by calling the Army ticket office.