November 11, 2009

An optimistic Stephen Anderson speaks out

It was bad enough that Army suffered a lost against academy rival, Air Force. However, when head coach Rich Ellerson announced that middle linebacker Stephen Anderson would miss the final three games of the 2009 season due to injury, it truly took the wind out the sails for the Army fans.

The junior captain, who is the heart and soul of Army's "Swarm" defense, felt, as well as heard his season come to an end, as the clock was winding down in the final period of last Saturday's contest.


On 4th & 9, and to the surprise of Anderson, who described the moment, the Falcons opted to go for the first down with a few minutes remaining on the clock. "Yeah, I recall," shares Anderson. "Just a normal play � the thing that was frustrating was that it was 4th & 9 on their 42 they decided to go for it instead of kicking the field, which I think is totally disrespectful to Army. I lost a lot of respect for Air Force.

So that very next play was first & goal and they ran an isos lead play towards my side; As a linebacker you are used to seeing that a thousand times so I just shuffled over the top and got outside the isos, and I went to plant back inside and my cleat got stuck and my knee snapped underneath me.

I heard it, so I knew right away that it was not good and it sounded like someone snapped their fingers in my ear."

What Anderson heard and was later revealed in the MRI performed on the hard hitting backer was a full ACL tear and a MCL tear with partial meniscus. "We will let the MCL heal naturally, which is what it does and then I will get my surgery on my ACL," declares Anderson. "They want to do it like mid-December or as soon as the swelling goes down, but it looks like mid-December."


"They said the recovery is about 5-6 months � I'm going to be working real hard to get back as soon as possible," Anderson shared with "I'm going to be looking at late May or mid-June and then hopefully I have about a month or 2 months of 100% time to where I'm comfortable where I feel like I'm good to go come August.

This is an injury that I have been told that when you come back, you can come back stronger. There is no reason that I can't come back from this injury and be a better player, and I expect to be� I have a year under the system."

It has yet to be determined where Anderson will have his surgery, but the Anderson family has the options of having the procedure done close to home or at West Point. "My dad would possibly like me to have the surgery in Maryland and he could pick me up and take me home," Anderson said. "Because we have a winter break and I could stay home for 2 � weeks and that would be great. However, we have a great surgeon in Dr. Sabuda and so whatever he believes, we will work with."

This is a winning team and I believe all three games are winnable. Most of these guys know it is possible, but I want to make sure that they know that it's possible.

- Middle Linebacker, Stephen Anderson

Compared to his 82 tackles during the 2008 season, the hard hitting linebacker had 83 tackles on the season in just nine game, as well as 9 tackles for loss. Clearly he was on track to reach his pre-season goal of over 100 tackles for 2009.


As one of the leaders on the team, Anderson understand that Saturday's lost to Air Force, as well as other close encounters with possible wins, the team must learn how to close out games � especially with each of the final three games following under the "must win" category.

"I will say that we are a team that when we get down, we get down," shares a candid Anderson. "As much as we try not to look at the scoreboard, it hurts to see that we are down 7 or 14 points. Those points aren't insurmountable, but it does put a little bit of pressure on our defense to make something happen and get the ball back to the offense. When we get in those situations, guys sometimes try to make things happen and a missed tackle could be because we were going for the strip ball instead of securing the tackle, along with missed assignments.

The focus in the second half (Air Force) was very disappointing. It goes back to disciplining our eyes and feet. But when you don't and a team sees it, they capitalize off of it. For Air Force, we held them to 58 total plays, but we were the victim of the big plays.

It goes back to, did we really work that hard. Why are we the ones missing out on the big play. But guys are really putting their heart and souls into the game, but it's coming back down to the details and if we do what we are supposed to do and if we play the defense that coach tells us to play, we have a better chance. We don't give ourselves a chance is when coach calls a defensive play and there are ten guys that know the defense but one guy doesn't know it � that's where we get beat.

Everyone knows how close we are and instead of being 3-6, we could be 6-3. But we need to learn how to find the way to win."


"Everyone knows who is coming back (2010), but at this point, you are looking at a 3-6 team that could be saying we are coming back, but what are we coming back to?" says the realistic team captain. "Are we coming back to a losing season and yes we will have a lot of experience, but not a lot of experience winning.

We have to finish this year strong to even give us chance to be excited about coming into next year. We are still bowl eligible and as far as I'm concern, as long as this team believes it, we can do it. Just because I'm not out there, I believe in my teammates and these guys are very capable to winning three games in a row. I would be so pumped if that happens.

I'm sure there's mixed emotion and for the seniors, it was there last game against Air Force. But there no time to think about that game now; we have to clear our minds, watching film to get better on Sunday. We have a great chance to put ourselves in position to have a great match up against Navy at the end of the year. Air Force and Navy went into overtime, so if we can put together 60 minutes of that first half against Navy as we did Air Force, you looking at a good game.


"I'm going to be out there with my guys," shares Anderson. "The middle linebacker, we have Bill Prosko, Andre Shinda and Kyler Martin � those three will be by committee. Whoever plays the best will ultimately win the job and I want to give the guys as much attention as I can � To make sure that their eyes and feet are correct.

This is a winning team and I believe all three games are winnable. Most of these guys know it is possible, but I want to make sure that they know that it's possible.

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