Army West Point Black Knights 2016 Preview and Prediction
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#111 Army West Point Black Knights
HEAD COACH: Jeff Monken, 6-18 (2 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Brent Davis | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jay Bateman
A name change produced similar results, as Army West Point managed just two wins in 2015, only one of those coming against FBS competition. Now in his third year, head coach Jeff Monken is hoping the youth movement he enacted last season will pay dividends in 2016.
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Previewing Army West Point’s Offense for 2016
Health was an issue at quarterback last season as the Black Knights went through three starters. Ahmad Bradshaw won the job, but the junior missed four games due to shoulder and foot ailments. Sophomore Chris Carter showed promise in starting the last two games and should provide plenty of competition.
As last season progressed, a few freshmen were given the opportunity to contribute in a running game that truly was by committee. Five running backs ran for at least 200 yards, and the likes of Jordan Asberry and Christian Drake could see more playing time in their second seasons. Andy Davidson enjoyed a strong spring after moving from linebacker to provide depth at fullback.
The offensive line graduated three seniors and another left the team, leaving junior guard Mike Houghton as the most experienced as far as career starts with 11. Tackle Rick Kurz and guard Victor Nieves III earned starting roles early last season.
Edgar Poe’s six touchdown catches (on a team-leading 16 receptions) were the most by a Black Knights receiver in eight years. Sophomore Quenten Parker is among those competing to take over for Kelvin White at tight end.
Previewing Army West Point’s Defense for 2016
A unit that finished 47th nationally in total defense revolves around senior linebackers Andrew King and Jeremy Timph. They tied for the team lead in tackles (92) a year ago, and King’s 16.5 tackles for a loss were among the nation’s leaders. There is experience on the outside, as Alex Aukerman and Kenneth Brinson started a combined 14 games in 2015.
Junior end John Voit impressed the coaching staff with his work last spring and went on to lead all linemen in tackles last season, his first as a starter. Senior Jordan Smith returns at the other end position.
With cornerback Josh Jenkins out all last season after suffering a head injury in an offseason altercation with former teammate Seth Combs, Brandon Jackson emerged as a starter during his freshman season. He led the unit in interceptions (three) while placing third in tackles for a loss. Jenkins was slated to return to the team but decided to transfer from West Point in late May. Sophomore corner Mike Reynolds, who did not play last season, had an impressive spring and at the least could add depth. Safety Xavier Moss fared well in his conversion from receiver and returns for his senior year.
Previewing Army West Point’s Specialists for 2016
The Black Knights must replace four-year kicker Daniel Grochowski and three-year punter Alex Tardieu. Senior Mitchell Howard and junior Avery Walas, a sprinter on the track team, were among those vying to take over the kicking chores in the spring. J.D. Mote served as Tardieu’s backup last season after transferring from junior college. The kick return unit improved last season, but that is not saying much as it still ranked 111th nationally with Marcus Hyatt handling the bulk of the duties. Poe did have a 50-yard punt return against Navy.
Now in his third year, coach Jeff Monken has earned much respect around West Point. He has been aggressive in recruiting and has surrounded himself with a solid staff. The two-deep in last year’s season finale against Navy featured a dozen freshmen, something previously unheard of on the Banks of the Hudson. With Monken setting the table for 2016 and beyond, many of those players received more than token reps during a season in which the Black Knights lost seven games by seven points or fewer.
With experience at several key positions, including a pair of quarterbacks who have started games, and a schedule that includes two FCS programs and four Group of 5 teams that finished under .500, there’s talk that Army could make a run at bowl eligibility.