Larry Dixon Brings Pain In Run Game

Larry Dixon

Larry Dixon

The following feature by Sal Interdonato appeared in the Times Herald-Record.

Oct. 6, 2011

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Larry Dixon was pumped for his first season at West Point.

Dixon kept hearing from coaches and players about Army's attack offense. That was perfect fit for the 6-foot, 220-pound freshman fullback.

Attack may not be the right description any more. Punishing might be a better word.

"You wonder what that is," said Dixon, who had a few bruising runs in a 45-6 win over Tulane last Saturday. "You know it's going to be physical. Now, being a part of this and seeing this happen, this really is an attack offense. We really try to get after our opponent."

Army rushers are inflicting the first hit, breaking tackles and finishing runs out of its wishbone and triple-option offenses.

Sophomore running back Raymond Maples, who has 361 yards in his last three games, is picking up chunks of yards on plays, which start in between the tackles.

Quarterback Trent Steelman broke more than 10 tackles and ran through linebackers in a win over Northwestern last month.

"It's always been my mentality where I'm not the type of quarterback that's going to run out of bounds," Steelman said. "I'm going to try and get those few extra yards. That's been with me my entire career in football. I've always been taught deliver the blow and don't let the blow be delivered to you."

The tough, physical yards used to be reserved for fullbacks in Army's triple-option, which used slotbacks. Defenses would park linebackers close to their defensive ends to take out the offensive tackles. That cleared a path for defenders to get clean shots at runners.

The addition of the wishbone this season has become the great equalizer. Now Army's backs, like the 215-pound Maples, have 5-yard running starts and can see holes clearer.

"That's something they are having to deal with," said coach Rich Ellerson. "There's a little more violence. It's one thing to have a lot of people coming at you and doing some cutting and running out of the option. It's another thing having a back taking those long runs at you and trying to knock your (butt) off."

Army opponents rarely see triple-option teams. The wishbone has given defensive coordinators even more to prepare for.

"The physical way we are running the football is a little bit unique to what a lot of folks are doing right now," Ellerson said. "It's one of those things that you can't really prepare for and if you could, you probably wouldn't want to because you'd get a lot of people hurt."

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