Beginning today and continuing throughout the season, GBK will provide you with the Q&A from coach Rich Ellerson's weekly teleconference, held every Tuesday with the media. We will also try and add a few interesting notes and a comment or two about the season.
Here are some of the more interesting exchanges from coach Ellerson - Sept. 21, 2010:
Q: Regarding the number of running backs used last week. Was that by design or due to injuries?
A: That was an injury situation. (Fullback) Jared (Hassin) wasn't able to practice all week, was available for the game but clearly wasn't quite himself. We lost Pat Mealy in the first half, and we already had Raymond Maples out of the picture, so necessity was the mother of invention.
Q: Will you try and work them in again?
A: Jonathan Crucitti did a great job, but he's a true freshman going out there. He had a couple of nice touches, but really just remarkable to go out there and function with a brand new offense. And he did an extraordinary job blocking. And (fullback) Jacob Bohn, we were not surprised that Jacob could hold his own. It's good he had that experience and it's good those guys have had touches, and that will help us somewhere down the road. But clearly we'll see how Pat is as the week progresses, and those other guys we expect to be back in the fold.
Q: What kind of defensive effort do you think you will get out of your team?
A: Well, obviously it's a challenge. We're going to need a great effort, but we expect a great effort. That doesn't guarantee success, but we'll play hard. The guys will have a good plan and they'll go play their tails off. We may spread them out; (quarterback Sean) Renfree is extraordinary much like the Hawaii quarterback: Quick release, deadly accurate, and obviously familiar with his receivers. He has two or three guys that are somehow some way always open, it seems like. We don't need to shut them out to have a win. If we are able to get some stops and a takeaway along the way…It's going to take a team effort to have a chance there; one side of the ball is not going to carry the day.
Q: Your thoughts on the Duke offense, compared to last year?
A: It's very similar in many respects. They've been doing the same thing for a long time. They're very well-schooled. They generate some great numbers coming out of the gate, and I think that speaks to the quarterback. The receiving corps, we may not see the run after catch maybe that you saw from Hawaii at times, but you see some very crafty receivers and a quarterback who's on the same wave length.
Q: After the Hawaii loss you talked about "flipping the switch.'' After a win, do you still want to flip the switch?
A: Absolutely. You go back to work on Sunday and revisit the (game) for the last time, and you take the lessons forward and then you clear. You (always) watch the tape with any eye on the next opponent.
Q: As defensive backs cheat up to help out on the triple option, do you think as a result we will see more deep balls from Trent Steelman?
A: Well, we called a couple (last week). We tried to get the ball over their head a few times and we got sacked down pretty hard. The challenge of getting behind those guys is also being able to protect, and that's not something that we spend a lot of time on. That's not what our guys are built for, nor do they specialize in. Having said that, we need to be able to do that. We have plans, we have a way to go after that. We need to break their heart and get one over their head. We haven't done that yet. We (did) that at times last year, getting behind people, with some regularity. We didn't always catch it. That hasn't happened this year, and that is a concern, because pretty soon those safeties are going to be playing on our side of the ball.
Q: Linebacker Stephen Anderson was on the kickoff team. Why?
A: We'll use you wherever we need to on that kickoff team. That's a little bit of frustration right now. We're not kicking great and we're not covering great. We're very inconsistent. So, we're looking for guys, and Stephen's a guy we trust. There are some things about how he plays the game and how he sees the game and we were compelled to take advantage of it. There were a couple of guys out of there because of nagging or chronic injuries. That's not amateur hour, there are a bunch of yards on the line.
Q: Is there a former All-America or NFL player who reminds you of Josh McNary?
A: He plays the same position and the same defense that Teddy Bruschi played and Chris Gocong played. Bruschi of course at Arizona and Gocong at Cal-Poly. Tedy just finished his (NFL) career and Chris (Cleveland Browns) is in the middle of his. Josh plays the same position and does some remarkable things with those opportunities. Each one of those guys, if they were gonna go on to play at the next level, would be looked at as linebackers. For us they're rush ends. That's the role he's playing and the shoes he's walking around in, and those shoes fit just fine.
Q: How important is it to control the ball this week?
A: We have to be productive offensively. It's not enough for us to just go out and run the clock. They may not score that many points but we won't win the game. The only way we have a chance to win is to be productive on offense. We've proven we get some chunks, but we're not ripping off 50, 60-yard plays. We're ripping off 10, 15-yard plays, when we're on it, and that makes for a little bit longer field and a shorter game - which is just fine, as long as those possessions end up in points.
Q: Could you talk about the Duke defense?
A: They're experienced. They lost a couple of guys but they have a couple of outstanding guys. They have a lot of veterans. Daniels, the safety, you ask, how you going to make a big play if he's on the field? Because he's faster than all your guys. By a lot. They play Georgia Tech and Navy, so they're not freaking out watching us on tape.
Q: What's the status of Jared Hassin?
A: He should be fine. He was much, much better coming off the field Saturday than the week before, so my expectation is he should be fine. We'll just have to wait and see how Pat is.
Q: How do you handle coming off a loss the way Duke did against Alabama (62-13)?
A: There's a lesson to be had from every game, every adventure, every experience. Some are harder to take than others, but sometimes those are the ones that help you the most. They don't like what happened on Saturday and they're looking at our tape, licking their chops and can't wait to get out and play I'm sure.
* The Black Knights will finally face an opponent this season that doesn't wear green. Eastern Michigan, Hawaii and North Texas all do. Of course, in two weeks is down to Tulane to face the Green Wave.
* It is amazing to consider that if Army beats Duke it will be the first time since a 1966-67 overlap in which it won three consecutive road games. Last year ended with a win at North Texas and this season opened with a win at Eastern Michigan. Army won at Cal in November of '66, then started the '67 season with a win at Boston College in Week 2, then two weeks later won at SMU. Army would also win at Air Force and at Pitt that year while going 8-2 under coach Tom Cahill. It's two losses that year were to Duke and Navy. Quckie Quiz? Who was the captain of that 1967 squad? (Answer below.)
* Speaking of amazing, a win Saturday will also put Army two games over .500 for the first time in 14 years. And in case you missed this, the 24-9 win over North Texas last week was Army's first shutout win at home since 1993.
* Quiz answer: Team Captain in 1967 was Bohdan "Buddy'' Neswiacheny, a graduate of Somerville High School in New Jersey.
* The team will be wearing the patch of the 82nd Airborne this week. Located at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, he unit was founded in 1917 and demobilized after World War I. Nicknamed the All-Americans (ergo the AA on the blue and red patch), the unit was reactivated in 1942 and became the first airborne division in the U.S. Army. Since World War II they have fought in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Honduras, Panama, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.