The Army defense finished the 2009 season, 16th in total defense and loses only two starters last season's unit that will look to make a bigger dent into opponent's offensive in 2010. The attacking swarm defense is lead by their emotional leader and captain, Stephen Andersonand All-America defensive end, Josh McNary.
In addition to nine starters returning, Anderson and McNary are on the road to making full recovers from their post season surgery.
With other members of the team working hard through the winter conditioning program, GoBlackKnights.com takes a peak into the rehabilitation progress of both these seniors-to-be. We start with Anderson, who is currently rehabbing after surgery on both his ACL (full tear) and a MCL tear with partial meniscus.
"I'm doing well, other than these blizzards that we are getting down here in Maryland
I'm doing real well," shares the hard hitting middle linebacker, who has spent his post surgery recovery at home.
After his December 18th surgery, Anderson spent the first two weeks in the brace, where his major goal was to ensure that he was keeping his leg straight and performing quad strengthening exercises.
After 8 weeks he starting working on his range of motion and the biggest thing was extension, where the target was to get his leg back to 180 degrees straight. "That came pretty easy for me," says Anderson. "So we then moved to bending my leg back to that 135-140 degrees
getting that full range of motion going.
Right now I have full range of motion. I have 140 degrees
my left leg can do the same as my right leg. Now we are starting to work on my cardio, the better your cardio is, the faster your rehab will go. I do the bike, but I can't run right now. Any kind of impact would be too much right now. But do the bike, the lythical, the stair master, a little walking. It feels normal to be honest
I'm walking normal; I don't wear a brace anymore. I do anything that is non-athletic."
For the 6-foot-0, 225 pound Anderson, he can do all upper body lifting, along with his continued work out with his good leg. Presently he is able to perform single leg press, leg curls, leg extensions, and churn out some leg presses on surgerically repaired leg, but lighter weights.
"We are building up my left leg that by mid-March or April, it's 90% as good as my good leg and then the following month it gets back to 100% and both legs are equally as strong," states Anderson, as he shared a projected barometer of his return and getting reconnected with his teammates.
"I won't be practicing for spring ball at all, but I will be up there next week. I will be at all the spring practices, being there with the guys and also going with the trainers."
For Anderson, he understands that the process (rehab) has a lot to do with being patient when it comes to getting back to the norm. In the case of both Anderson and McNary, they both lost weight initially and after the surgery but I'm back to normal. "I'm now at 227 pounds," says Anderson who praised the coaching staff for the encouragement and support throughout his recovery.
"Coach Saddat has been great throughout this hold thing (injury/surgery) and Coach Brock too. They allow me to stay positive and Coach Ellerson said that it's better than if it happen our senior year and he is right."
2010 - The Defense
it's amazing," shares an excited Anderson when reflecting on the potential of the 2010 defense.
"We take pride
We want to be a defense that we people face us they know it is going to be a long 60 minutes for them and a fight all 60 of those minutes.
I think we finished 15th in the nation in total defense last year, which is great. But with everyone coming back and the experience we have coming back, there's no reason why we can't be a top five defense. And another thing is that our scoring defense was not 15th defense in the nation. It's good to have a total defense that is top in the nation, but ultimately you want the best scoring defense - because that means that people aren't scoring on you.
I think we were down in the 30's & 40's in that category. That's just buckling down in the red zone and eliminating the big plays. That's making guys kick field goals when they are first and goal, that's making guys get out of field goal range, when they were in field goal range. It's pretty much that next step we want in the phase of our defense.
We have everyone back and ultimately we lose just Vic (Ugenyi) and Mario (Hill). We have Richard King back at corner who probably would have started last year, but just had a little concussion problem.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, we just talk about how fun it's going to be. Josh and I played at the prep school together and we were a dominating defense at prep. Donovan played at prep school with us, Richard, Donnie Dixon, Marcus Hilton played at the prep school with us. We have that core prep school defense that was dominating and we were 8-2 and our defense was lights out. We held Navy prep to 66 total yards in the game.
This is our senior year and we talked about going out with something meaningful.
ON THE RISE
Along with the top heavy group of senior-to-be manning the defense, there are some "youngsters" that have been fused into the starting eleven and Anderson shares his thought on three of those players. "A-Rod was consistent all year and I expect that again out of him this year," stays Anderson. "Erzinger really came on strong once he learned the Rover position. He was an outside linebacker moved to Rover, which is like a strong safety type position. The way he played during the end of the year, it was lights out and I think if anyone was most improve, it was Erzinger.
But one guy who I think will really step and build some confidence is Antuan Aaron. He started as a freshman for us, sophomore year still one of the younger guys and faced some talented wide receiver. Him finally being the junior and gaining confidence coming out of spring ball, he can be that locked down corner for us.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Temple - "Will be a good matchup and they have Bernard Pierce who is a great running back. He got hurt against us and I know he will be hungry."
Rutgers - "I love the idea of playing Rutgers a Giant Stadium which will be an awesome experience."
"Other than the Navy which I missed because of my injury, the Notre Dame Game at Yankee Stadium
that is going be something and this is why you play the game. Something to remember for my entire life, but right now I'm looking forward to Eastern Michigan."
Look for GoBlackKnights' Josh McNary article that will follow soon.
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