WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Black Knights wrap up their mini two-game homestand on Saturday when they host the Vanderbilt Commodores. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. The first 5,000 fans through the gates at Michie Stadium will receive a Felix "Doc" Blanchard bobblehead doll. The 1945 Heisman Trophy winner's number will also be retired in a halftime ceremony.
Saturday is the first time the Black Knights have faced an opponent from the Southeastern Conference since losing to Auburn in the 1996 Independence Bowl. It is the first regular-season meeting with an SEC foe since Vanderbilt visited Michie Stadium during the 1991 season.
TELEVISION Network: CBS College Sports Network Play-by-Play: Dave Ryan Color Analyst: Jason Sehorn Sideline Reporter: Cadet Devin Adams Channel Lineup: Time Warner Cable (Hudson Valley) -- 457; DirecTV -- 613; Dish Network -- 152
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 156) and XM Satellite Radio (channel 104) 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.
COACHING MATCHUP ARMY HEAD COACH RICH ELLERSON Alma Mater: Hawai’i, 1977 1st Season at Army (2-3, .400) 10th Season Overall (62-44, .585) Record vs. Vanderbilt: 0-0
VANDERBILT HEAD COACH BOBBY JOHNSON Alma Mater: Clemson, 1973 8th Season at Vanderbilt (29-59, .330) 16th Season Overall (89-95, .484) Record vs. Army: 0-0
Army is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season after falling to Tulane last Saturday, 17-16. Last week’s loss to the Green Wave marked the first time the Black Knights lost in consecutive weeks. Army alternated wins and losses through the first four weeks of the campaign. The Black Knights have suffered at least one three-game losing streak in each of the past 12 seasons.
The Army offense is trying to get back on track after a season-low 222 yards of total offense. Army ran for 196 yards, the second straight week that the Black Knights did not reach the 200-yard plateau on the ground after rushing for at least 207 yards in each of the first three games. Despite the relatively low rushing output, the Black Knights still rank seventh in the nation at 231.0 rushing yards per contest.
The Black Knights are trying to find a way to improve their big-play ability, particularly in the running game. In the last two weeks, Army has had just one rushing attempt go for more than 20 yards, and only seven running plays gain at least 10 yards. In Army’s two wins, the Black Knights gained at least 10 yards 14 times.
Freshman QB Trent Steelman is coming off a career-best rushing day. Steelman ran 20 times for 95 yards and Army’s lone touchdown against Tulane. It was Steelman’s fifth consecutive start, breaking the Academy record for starts by a plebe quarterback. Carson Williams and Zac Dahman started four games each in 2006 and 2002, respectively. The Tulane game also marked the first time that Steelman took every snap. In each of the first four games, he had come out of the game for at least one play.
Defensively, the Black Knights are among the top 35 stop units in the nation in both total defense (30th, 299.2 yds/game) and rushing defense (34th, 110.8 yds/game). Army allowed Tulane 120 rushing yards on 31 carries, however 68 of those yards came on two rushing attempts. Minus those two plays, the Green Wave gained just 52 yards on 29 attempts. Army held the Green Wave to -3 yards rushing in the first half.
Junior DE Josh McNary has had at least 2.0 tackles for loss in each of the first five games of the season. Both of his stops against Tulane were behind the line of scrimmage. McNary leads the team with 10.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks. He ranks fifth in the nation with 2.1 tackles for loss per game. He also added a fumble recovery and a pass breakup opposite the Green Wave.
SCOUTING THE COMMODORES Vanderbilt is in its eighth season under head coach Bobby Johnson. Johnson guided the Commodores to a 7-6 record last season, including a win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl. It was Vanderbilt’s first winning season since the 1982 campaign, and their first bowl victory since the 1955 Gator Bowl. Johnson came to Nashville following eight successful seasons at Furman, culminating in a trip to the Division I-AA national title game in 2001.
The Commodores come to West Point with a 2-3 overall record. Vanderbilt has won both its non-conference outings, defeating Western Carolina, 45-0, and Rice, 36-17. All three of the Commodores losses have been in Southeastern Conference play, including last week’s 23-7 home loss to Mississippi.
Mississippi jumped out to a 23-0 lead before Vanderbilt scored the game’s final touchdown with 5:54 to go in the third quarter. Larry Smith found Udom Umoh for a seven-yard scoring pass. Ole Miss outgained the Commodores 397-240, but the Commodores outrushed the Rebels, 171-160. The Vanderbilt defense intercepted highly-touted Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead three times. Warren Norman led the Vandy offense with 86 rushing yards on 14 carries. Smith finished the game 10 of 27 for 69 yards, a touchdown and one interception. Umoh had three catches for 27 yards, while Turner Wimberly caught three passes for 18 yards. Brent Trice led all players with 14 total tackles and racked up 2.0 tackles for loss to pace the Vandy defense.
Offensively, the Commodores do the majority of their work on the ground. Vanderbilt is ranked 30th in the nation in rushing offense at 195.00 yards per game. Ten of Vanderbilt’s 12 touchdowns have comem via the rush.The squad ranks 83rd overall at 342.20 yards per contest. Vanderbilt is averaging 20.0 points per game overall, but has scored 40.5 points per contest in its two non-SEC games. Norman leads the team with 336 rushing yards (67.2/game) and three rushing scores. Zac Stacy has accounted for 236 yards on a team-leading 51 carries. Vandy has four players with at least 20 rushes that are averaging better than 4.6 yards per carry. Smith is the leading passer with 702 yards (140.4/game) and two touchdowns. He has completed 46.5 percent of his throws (66-142) with four interceptions. Umoh and John Cole each have 12 catches. Umoh has a team-leading 166 receiving yards.
The Commodores bring a top-25 defense into Michie Stadium. Vanderbilt is 25th in the nation, allowing 292.20 yards per game. Vandy is 23rd in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 15.6 points per contest. They are one of the nation’s top pass defenses, ranking third at 132.40 yards per game. Chris Marve is the Commodores top tackler with 46 stops. Casey Haward has a team-leading 6.0 tackles for loss, while Theron Kadri paces the Commodores with 3.0 sacks. Myron Lewis has intercepted three passes through five games.
THE ARMY-VANDERBILT SERIES The Black Knights and Commodores are playing on the gridiron for the first time since the 1991 season. The two squads met seven times between 1968 and 1991 with Vanderbilt holding a 4-3 series advantage.
Saturday’s game is the fifth meeting between the two teams at West Point. The Commodores have won three of the previous four outings. Army’s only win at Michie Stadium was a 24-19 win on Nov. 12, 1988.
ARMY AGAINST THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE Vanderbilt is the only team from the SEC on the Black Knights’ docket this season. It is the first time Army has faced a Southeastern Conference foe since taking on Auburn in the 1996 Independence Bowl. The last regular-season meeting between Army and an SEC opponent was Vanderbilt in 1991.
Since the league formed in 1932, Army owns a 6-14-2 record against SEC squads. That includes a 1-0-1 record against Tulane while it was a member (1932-66) and a 1-1 record versus Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets competed in the SEC (1932-64). Army’s other wins in that span include three versus Vanderbilt and one versus Tennessee (1986).
Army’s all-time record against teams currently comprising the SEC is 12-14-1 (Alabama 0-1, Auburn 2-1, Florida 2-1, LSU 1-0, Mississippi State 0-1, South Carolina, 2-1, Tennessee 2-5-1 and Vanderbilt 3-4).
AN ARMY WIN VS. VANDERBILT WOULD ... • Get the Black Knights back to the .500 mark for the season. • End the Black Knights’ two-game losing streak. • Match the Black Knights’ season win total from each of the last three seasons (3-9). • Be the Black Knights’ 11th win their last 22 home games. • Even the series record with the Commodores at 4-4. • Snap a two-game losing streak versus SEC opponents. • Be the 640th win in the 120 seasons of Army football (639-452-51; .582).
THE LAST MEETING: VANDERBILT 41, ARMY10 (Nov. 2, 1991) WEST POINT, N.Y. — Vanderbilt converted two fumbles into touchdowns in the first four minutes of play to take a quick 14-0 lead, then with its third possession marched 78 yards to score for the third time in the opening quarter.
The Commodores rushed for 353 yards, added another 63 throwing the ball and scored the most points against Army all season. Army lost a fumble on the third play of the game and three players later Marcus Wilson scored from three yards out. Corey Harris scored on a nine-yard run following Army’s second fumble of the game. Harris finished the game with 180 rushing yards, including 145 in the first half.
Patmon Malcom put the Cadets on the board with a 38-yard field goal, but the Commodores answered back with another touchdown to take a 21-3 lead. Vanderbilt pushed the lead to 34-3 at the half with Wilson’s third touchdown of the game, and took a 41-3 lead six minutes into the third quarter.
Army scored its only touchdown of the game with just more than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Myreon Williams scored on a 10-yard run.
HERE'S THE POINT The Black Knights posted 27 points in their season opener at Eastern Michigan. It was the most points Army scored in a season opener since the 1996 season — the last time the Black Knights were victorious in a season debut (37-20 over Ohio).
The victory improved Army’s record to 7-3 in its last 10 games when scoring at least 27 points. Army has scored 27 points in seven of its last 13 wins.
The Tulane loss dropped the Black Knights to 5-72 since the start of 1996 in games where they score less than 20 points. Three of the five wins came during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Army defeated Rhode Island, 14-7, in overtime on Sept. 8, 2007, Eastern Michigan, 17-13, on Oct. 11, 2008, and Louisiana Tech, 14-7, on Oct. 25, 2008.
SEEING RED The Black Knights scored on four of their five trips into the red zone against Tulane, however, only one of those scoring forays resulted in a touchdown which continued a recent trend. In the last four games, Army has reached the end zone only five times in 13 red-zone chances (38.5 percent).
Overall, Army is 14 for 18 in the red zone this season with nine touchdowns (77.8 percent), which is 80th in the nation.
Army has scored points on 33 of its last 39 trips into the red zone. Army finished the 2008 campaign ranked tied for 35th in the nation, scoring on 85 percent of its red-zone chances (22 of 26).
Defensively, Army has forced opponents into similar frustration. In the last 16 games, the Black Knights gave limited opponents to 23 touchdowns in 48 red-zone trips (47.9 percent).
Army’s overall red-zone defensive rate of 0.74 ranked tied for 11th in the nation last season. Through five games in 2009, the Black Knights are tied for the 19th-best red zone defense at 0.7 (10 for 14).
UP NEXT ... Army hits the road for the third time this season when they play the first of its two games at Lincoln Financial Field. The Black Knights will face Temple next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Philadelphia. Army will also play arch-rival Navy at Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 12. The Black Knights and Owls have met each of the past two seasons at West Point. Army scored a 37-21 win in 2007, but the Owls got revenge in 2008 with a 35-7 win at Michie Stadium in the season opener.