August 5, 2009

Army Football - Summer Central: Inside the Huddle

INSIDE THE HUDDLE

The Black Knights concluded their second day of practice yesterday and as expected the players are really excited, but as one coach said, "You go from really excited to really confused, because it's like drinking out of a fire hose."

Some of the players have expressions of, "yeah that's what we did in the spring" and others are catching up. With the plebes, it's a brand new experience for them.

GoBlackKnights.com takes a look "Inside the Huddle", as we continue to provide updates on the tidbits of Army summer football.

FRESHMEN TRANSITION

For many of the incoming freshmen, it's just not a new system, but its college football and they have to make the adjustments like every single freshman in American does. Many were in high school last year, where they were 17 & 18 years old, a senior and perhaps the captain and they were playing against 15, 16 & 17 year olds. Or if you were at the prep school, everyone was your age and you are getting ready to play college football.

However now they are playing against guys who are 21-22 years old … these are men.

However, it is two days into camp and the reason for optimism … they are being brought along and will be ready.

CONDITIONING

Coach Ellerson puts a huge emphasis on rest and recovery, which is hard to do with Beast because the staff doesn't have control over them. When they are up there (West Point) during mass athletics, they aren't being crushed by the Army football staff, but trying to teach them the basic of how summer football is run.

NOTABLES ON DEFENSE

Stephen Anderson looks good and might be the best football player the Black Knights have on the team. He's very smart, he retains things and he learns well. What hurt him a little bit was being able to participate in the spring. There are some things that were installed later in the spring that he is picking up on now.

As one coach noted. "The great thing about Steve, he's going to learn at full speed and even if he doesn't do it correctly, he's going to hit somebody on the way of correcting it. He's a fantastic leader, and a great kid. He's exactly the kind of kid you want when you don't have a senior linebacker … he's the junior you need. Just by talking with Steve, you wouldn't know that he was a Sophomore All-American, this that and the other thing. He's a solid kid and all he wants to do is win. Whatever he has to do to do that, that's what he's going to do. He has bought into everything that we have sold as a coaching staff and taking hold of the Mike's and Rover's and said let's go … this is how it's going to be done and if you don't like it, you don't have to be here."

Up and coming defender is sophomore, Andrew Rodriguez, who plays the Whip, which is the linebacker/defensive end (Hybrid) position. Fans will see the 6-foot-3, 210 pounder flexed a lot and moving around a lot.

"He's playing well and the kid… he's beyond smart," shares one of the Army coaches. "He's a 4.0 kid here at West Point, but football wise as well - great instincts. He picks up on everything and he's very coachable. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes and when he does, he only does it once."

Another sophomore who has solid upside is Rover, Steve Erzinger. Erzinger looks good, is a strong kid and he can run. For the 6-foot-1, 215 pound Rover, it's just a matter of putting everything together and he's going to be a very good football player for the Black & Gold.

NO RUBBER NECKING

Coach Ellerson is huge on kids not standing around. He does not like it when there's one drill going and 30 guys are watching. So the way the staff operate practice is if there's one drill going on and 30 guys are standing around watching, then they will have that same drill going on at the same time - five different times. Hence, there is nobody just standing around and the staff can rotate it. That is why this Army squad doesn't condition after practice, and that is because they conditioned while we practice.

Ellerson's philosophy is that the Black Knights are never going to get into a game situation that is more intense than what they do in practice.

With that being part of the beginning of summer practices, along with trying to learn a new defense, it can be somewhat overwhelming on newcomers, but seasoned players as well. However, the coaching has noted that they (younger players) are much better today than they were the first day and as long as they keep doing that, we are in good shape.

THE "B" SQUAD

This is not the JV squad per say, but a developmental team. Last year saw the "scout team" players rewarded for their duties and eventually played in a few games last year.

The B squad of the Ellerson regime will be the true freshmen that come in direct and those from the prep school freshmen, who are fully expected to play on Saturday's … some day. It is clear that the staff wants these players to get some experience and that ties into Ellerson's philosophy, which is to recruit only those kids that he expects to play some day at Army.

He wants those players to get some experience and they will be running all of the "A" squad schemes. However, the staff does not want the first time that they step on the field as a sophomore or junior to be the opening game at Michie Stadium.

If they are a prep school kid, they will have experienced 10 games there and 6-8 "B" squad games their freshman year at Army. By the time they are sophomores, they are looking at college level competition for 16-18 games, even prior to walking onto a college football field.

The "B" squad, which will coach by Rover back Coach John Brock, will continue to service the "A" squad as the scout team.

Coach Ellerson is very high on getting the core group of the "A" squad and keeping it that way. However, with Ellerson there's always open competition, where a "B" squad player has been developing and perhaps an "A" squad player is under performing … so changes can happen. For Ellerson, it's about getting the best players on the field and in the Black & Gold uniform of Army.





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