August 16, 2010

Summer 2010 - Inside the Huddle: The Linebackers

INSIDE THE HUDDLE:

From top to bottom, the Black Knights' defense is talented; it has senior leadership, coupled with a calm swagger along with a mixture of youth. Without a doubt they are ready to go or as one coach put it when talking about the defense … it's hard not to have the "juju" with 8-9 starters returning.

What many consider the hub of the defense is Army's linebacker corp, which is lead by the trio of senior Stephen Anderson, Andrew Rodriguez (aka A-Rod) and fellow junior Steve Erzinger.

As spring practice concluded, the prevailing question was, will Anderson, who will be serving his second term as captain, return 100% when summer training camp opens; this is after undergoing and rehabbing from knee surgery.

Well, the answer to that question has been a comforting yes. But there is now an equally concerning question with another of the talented trio and that is Whip linebacker, Andrew Rodriguez.

A-Rod is suffering from back ailments and the staff is still waiting for some clarity on his prognosis. He hasn't practice and the injury has not fixed itself yet.

The Alexandria, (VA) product is a big piece of the puzzle and haven't him out of the line-up will clearly have an impact on the temperament of the defense. You can't have your leading tackler (85 tackles) extracted from your "D" without some level of drop-off, no manner how optimistic one might be.

GoBlackKnights.com continues to take a look at the defensive unit, with peak into the linebackers and defensive backs.

Linebackers

Inside backers are Stephen Anderson and Steve Erzinger. Heading into his second stint as the Black Knights' captain, Anderson seems to have fully recovered from his season ending injury and subsequent rehab.

From his Mike backer spot, Anderson, aka "Fifty" is your typical throw back - knock your head off middle linebacker. Although Anderson is still knocking off some of the rust, Army fans are excited to see #50 back in the middle, who may his presence felt in Saturday's scrimmage, where he laid the hammer on a couple of occasions.

Like Mike Gann, Anderson is a very emotional player and this teammates feed off of his electricity. Anderson has benefited from a committed rehab program, but also the S&C under Brett Gerch.

When Anderson does need a breather, which is rare, former fullback Kingsley Ehie appears to be ready to contribute from his new position.

"Ehie is becoming more comfortable with the Mike linebacker role and it is apparent with the speed of his game compared to where it was during the spring," shares Saadat.

The Whip backer, which is where Andrew Rodriguez normally lines up is 6-foot-2, 220 pound sophomore [db]Nate Combs. Prior to A-Rod's injury, the former UMAPS product was booked in on the other side of A-Rod. But with Rodriguez is still on the injury shelf, Combs and Mackey (Jarrett) have been moved to the Whip and Bandit positions respectively.

Positioning themselves behind Combs are Zach Watts and Chad Littlejohn.

At the Rover linebacker spot will be returning starter, Steve Erzinger who finished forth on the team in tackles in 2009. The 6-foot-1, 225 pounder from Houston (Tx) continues to mature as a player and it will be exciting to see what he brings to the table in 2010. Last season Erzinger finished forth on the team in tackles where he registered 71 tackles and 1 interception.

Running second behind Erzinger is senior backer, Sean Westphal, who saw action in 11 contests last season.

A-Rod's Return

If A-Rod is able to return, Combs will most likely stay put, but it now allow the staff the flexibility to manage the game day reps with Mackey, Combs and Rodriguez. Hence, you could see all three sharing the reps from those two positions (Bandit & Whip).

Stayed tuned to GoBlackKnights.com as we take a look at the defensive backs in our continuous 2010 summer training camp coverage.


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