2015 In Sports
Football is Just Around the Corner
As we draw closer to the start of the football season, I thought I'd share some insights into the prospects for our affiliation class this coming season. Although only juniors, the Class of 2015 is taking on an early leadership role on the team, and I've attempted to capture that phenomenon in the following article.
With the new Supe spurring them on and the best defensive backfield we've seen in years coming back, I expect to see a real turnaround this year, led by our affiliation class.
For those who are interested, I'll have a more detailed perspective after the start of pre-season. I don't expect the incoming plebes to take on a major role in this year's team as they have the past two seasons, but I'm watching closely to see how well some key players have recovered from off season surgery. I fully expect us to be significantly better than last year, but how much better is still a question.
Beat Navy (and everyone else while we're at it)
Class of 2015 Ready to Take Charge
As we approach the start of pre-season football practice, the members of our affiliation class appear ready to take on a leadership role for the coming season of Army football. In the 2011 season, Army had more freshmen (plebes) in the lineup than any other team at the FBS level, with 19 earning some playing time and 11 earning a chance to start. That was as much due to the lack of quality upperclassmen on the team as it was with the quality of the plebes. As was to be expected, the plebes struggled a bit while learning that playing at Division 1 level was considerably different than playing in high school, and the outcomes sometimes reflected the lack of experience. A few of the class dropped by the wayside or were sidelined by injuries in 2012, but several more rose to replace them and the Class of 2015 was once again called upon to exceed normal expectations for their level of experience. A total of 24 yearlings saw varsity action in 2012, and 13 earned at least one starting assignment. Ryan Powis was named to the Rimington Award watch list at center, while Geoff Bacon and Steve Shumaker were named to Phil Steele's All Independent team and Powis and Bacon were two of only three sophomores named to the All Service Academy Team. Entering the 2013 season, several members of our affiliation class are grizzled veterans and are staking a claim to leadership on the field. As Hayden Pierce stated in a recent article, "...we kind of feel that our class is the class that's going to end up running the defense." Geoff Bacon echoed his remarks in another article, saying "We know that this is our (Junior Class) team, but at the same time we still want to show respect for the seniors.... it's a junior dominated team when it comes to players who have played significantly."
Who to Watch
Just how dominant is the junior class on this defense? Ellerson and staff are encouraging competition for all the starting spots so the starting lineup is still unsettled, but at this point in time it's quite likely that as many as 6 of the 11 starters will be juniors with another 3-4 sophomores in strong supporting roles. Bacon has been named to the Ronnie Lott Impact Award watch list and he and Pierce are almost a lock to start at the two safety positions, Avery or Johnson-Harris will most likely start at Field Corner, Kelly holds an edge over senior captain Mackey at Whip, Drummond is the likely starter over sophomore Alexander at Bandit Tackle, and Glover is in a head to head contest with sophomore Altimalala for the starting spot at Nose Tackle. Colin Linkul is unlikely to start, but will likely be inserted as a pass rusher in clear passing situations again this year. Bobby Kough is listed as a football junior, but I don't know if he affiliates more with the senior or junior class at this point, but clearly he is one of the recognized leaders on the team as well. With Laird, Kime, and Doak Walker candidate Ray Maples returning, the seniors have a stronger claim to leadership on offense, but they will rely heavily on veterans from the Class of 2015 on that side of the ball as well. With 19 career starts in his young career, Powis is the veteran on offensive line, and will share leadership with the senior Kime (13 starts) and junior classmate Shumaker (12 starts) while Bennett appears ready to step into a starting role at LT. Seniors Laird and Stephens are the veterans at WR, but junior Lawrence returns as the leading pass receiver and a 12 game starter from last season. In the backfield, the senior Maples returns for an attempt at his third 1000 yard season, but Dixon is already one of the acknowledged leaders of the team at FB, and great things are expected of Baggettt and Turrentine at A back. What we may have here, to paraphrase Minnesota Fats, are the fruits of a couple of misspent seasons. A team that has a lot of experience returning but two more years to take advantage of it.