September 30, 2012

Combs & Bacon attempt to lead the way defensively

When you look at the Black Knights' season, there aren't too many positives defensively and the trend albeit somewhat improved on Saturday, there still is much to be concerned about.
Army began its three game stand at home in a disappointing fashion as they fell to Stony Brook 23-3. Although they didn't allow 40 plus points as opposed to their previous three games, there is still work to be done with the defense. Army's defense this week had to change due to the overload of linemen by Stony Brook. Three, rather than two defensive tackles were inserted, and so sophomore Joe Drummond got the starting job along side Bobby Kough and Mike Ugenyi. To his credit, Drummond played a decent game where he recorded seven tackles on the day.
The first defensive series for Army looked to be similar to the game against Northern Illinois except the Black Knights were getting beat on the run instead of the pass. It took Stony Brook just four plays to march down the field into an eventual 49 yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Later in the same quarter, senior Nate Combs made a stellar play on the quarterback Kyle Essington coming up directly behind him and made a crushing sack as the ball came loose. In the scramble for the loose ball, Army's Richard Glover came away with it.

Throughout the game, Combs made play after play, where he registered 9 tackles, 2 sacks and one forced fumble. The senior backer appeared to be taking control of Army's defense next to sophomore linebacker, Geoffrey Bacon. Before, during and after every play Combs was continuously being a vocal leader on the field and his embellishment to his teammate has been backed up by his improved play this season.

In the third defensive stand, Stony Brook continued its hot streak with running back Miguel Maysonet as it appeared he had an easy touchdown had it not been for Josh Jackson' s effort in clipping him just barely to send him out of bounds at the 50 yard line. Shortly after, freshman LB Alex Meier was called for a 15 yard penalty for unnecessary roughness after hitting the ball-carrier when he was out of bounds. Quite a few freshmen are now starting for the Black Knights including CB Chris Carnegie, and FS Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires. The penalty led to a Stony Brook field goal, but Army fans were relieved because it was cut from an easy touchdown.

With the score now 10-0 starting the second quarter, Army's next defensive series resulted in a solid three and out. Unfortunately, it was on a day in which Army's offense could not find its rhythm. When the defense took the field again, Combs logged his second sack for a nine yard loss and Clayton Keller followed that up with a sack of his own. Against Stony Brook, Army's defenders did a much better job pressuring the quarterback compared to the previous three contest. The Black Knights would have had a lot more sacks but Essington threw multiple passes away due to the pressure.

As the first half concluded, Stony Brook settled for a field goal on the last play of the 2nd quarter to improve their lead 13-0, while Army would head to the locker room to look for some 2nd half answers.

2nd Half Stakes Are High

In the second half, Stony Brook continued to dominate the line of scrimmage and hence their running game up the middle for which Army had no answer. Taking a page out of Army play book, which was to use a lot of the clock, and run the football effectively. Conversely, the Steelman lead offense could never effectively run their triple option and with Stony Brook holding onto a solid lead, the task became insurmountable.

Although often overmatched physically, the 6-foot-0, 205 pound Bacon continues to improve his game. At times the sophomore is caught out of place, no one can fault him on his aggressive play and eagerness to be around the ball. Against Stony Brook he was a magnet to the ball, recording an impressive 14 tackles. While Bacon and Combs are the shinning stars on a defensive that still playing 2-3 steps behind their opponents ... Army fans only wish that more players would step up and make plays to move from the improving status to "improve/effective".

Irony?

One area that the Black Knights have struggled throughout the year is at cornerback. Yes, there is promise with the continue maturation of frosh Chris Carnegie, who on the day registered 9 tackles on Saturday.

However, hindsight being 20/20, Army's defense may have been improved with the addition of a former Black Knight who now plays for Stony Brook. Stony Brook's junior Davonte Anderson plays cornerback. Yes, that's the same Devonte Anderson who spent a year at USMAPS and went through basic training before transferring to Stony Brook. He already has two interceptions on the season and Saturday showed off some of his talents.

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