For 2016, we’ve penned in eight teams on our schedule that we will see play more than one game. Here we review some of the advantages and disadvantages we’re hearing about as these teams prepare for their upcoming spring practice sessions. It’ll give us an idea of what these teams will be focusing on before we get to see them play games in the fall.
Army (3 games) – HC Jeff Moncken will be starting his third year at West Point. Despite a 2-10 season a year ago, he seems to be pulling the Cadets up from the doldrums of losing football. Of the 10 losses a year ago, seven deficits were within a touchdown giving West Pointer signs of hope for the future. The former successful HC of Georgia Southern and an assistant at the Naval Academy, where he developed and learned the triple option from among college football’s best coaching staffs, seemed to find his QB of the future in Chris Carter who kept Army in the game we attended against Navy last season, falling 21-17. Army football is truly in a rebuilding mode. With 14 straight losses to the Naval Academy, there is a lot of impetus to get things turned around for the Black Knights of the Hudson.
RBs Aaron Kempf, Joe Walker, and John Trainor each return with a year of experience behind them to make Army’s triple option work even better. Senior WR Edgar Poe had six TD snags among his 16 receptions and will become more effective in the mix if Army QBs Carter and Ahmad Bradshaw can get the ball to him with some good passing schemes mixed into the play calling. Leading tacklers (92 each) on defense return as senior LBs Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King return as the keys to leading the Black Knight defense. They were effective in stopping the run throughout most of the season, but will have to develop some pressure up front to stop opponents’ passing attacks. A key to turning the corner his season will be seeing how many sophomores will step up in key rolls from Moncken’s first effort at recruiting an entire class at West Point. Some got the call up last year like Carter.
With experience and more confidence, the Cadets could get four or five wins this season. Their three weeks of preparation prior to December 10 may help them again against Navy this year who will be without the services of QB Keenan Reynolds. We also look forward to two of their September road games against two intriguing teams. The first will be their opener at Temple on Friday night September 2 at The Linc in Philly. The Owls will have to revamp their entire defense. The other team we will see them play will be up at the University of Buffalo where second-year HC Lance Leipold will be mentoring the Bulls in his second season after coming from D3 Wisconsin-Whitewater where he led the Warhawks to six D-3 national championships. His first edition at UB finished 5-7 with little chance to bring much new talent to the roster. These two games in September will indicate how much progress Moncken has made with the Cadet football program in his third year at a program that has had one winning season (2010) during the last twenty years.
Army games on our tentative schedule: Sept. 2 (Friday) at Temple; September 24 at Buffalo; December 10 vs. Navy in Baltimore.
Spring game: April 30
Next up: Syracuse