Oct. 5, 2011
By Sal Interdonato, Times Herald-Record
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Tyler Dickson exited the bus at Michie Stadium and shifted his focus.
Dickson had just finished a 450-point physics midterm Tuesday afternoon. Now Dickson, a starting sophomore free safety, was just beginning his preparation for Miami (Ohio), Army's opponent Saturday.
Army coach Rich Ellerson excused his sophomores from practice Monday to give them time to excel in a challenging academic week.
"We got to do a little studying and I think it paid off," said Dickson, Army's second-leading tackler.
Ellerson is preparing for Army's third road game a little differently this time. The Black Knights, 0-2 on the road, lacked physical energy two weeks ago against Ball State in a 48-21 loss during a difficult week in the classroom.
Army held a no-pads practice Tuesday, usually the team's only physical practice of the week. The team may not practice in pads at all this week.
"If we went out there and tried to do the padded stuff about half of the guys we hope to play on Saturday wouldn't be able to practice," Ellerson said. "They would be watching. I'd rather get their eyes and feet settled in. Our yearlings (sophomores) are getting crushed all week academically."
Dickson has a major exam in geography Wednesday.
Ellerson is trying to find the right combination of academics and football to give his team the proper rest and be ready for another road challenge. He hinted that practice time could be cut this week.
"Anything and everything is on the table that we can possibly do to somehow get ourselves into a position where we are competitive this weekend," Ellerson said. "If we'll just do that every week, you got a chance because that's the way it's going to be this year. Let's find a way to manufacture a chance and not worry about implications down the road or how we got where we are. This is where we are, how do we find a way to be competitive?"
Quarterback Trent Steelman said preparations for the game are on each player.
"Anytime you can get those type of mental reps, it's a good opportunity," Steelman said. "It is a long season and every game is physically demanding. Our challenge is to come out here and get those same mental reps as we would if we were in a full-pads practice."
Army (2-3) can move to .500 at the season's midway point with a win.
"We have to be able to come out with the same intensity that we do at home and bring that to away games," Steelman said.