Thursday, April 28, 2011
Army spring rewind
By Andrea Adelson
Time to take a look at what Army learned during spring practice.
Unanswered questions: The biggest are on defense, where coach Rich Ellerson is still looking for somebody to step up in the interior of his defense to replace Mike Gann, a stalwart for the Black Knights last season. Injuries kept a few players off the field who would have contended for the starting job, and now Ellerson is going to have to rely on two-a-day practices to determine who is going to start. "The good news is you don’t need 1,000 turns in the spring," Ellerson said. "You break doing it. We can still evaluate those guys efficiently. The only challenge [is] do they exist? Do we have that guy or those guys? We’ll be OK, but we graduated a really good player in Mike Gann. Right now if we were going to play, I would say we have not replaced him yet." There are also questions in the linebacking corps. Steve Erzinger took reps at middle linebacker in place of the departed Stephen Anderson, but Ellerson is not sure whether that will be a permanent move.
Questions answered: Army lost four starting offensive linemen and its backup center, but Ellerson left spring feeling much better about this unit than he thought he would. Will Wilson impressed him at center while Joe Bailey and Matt Villanti also had good springs as they compete at right guard. Ellerson also said left tackle Brad Kelly took a giant step forward. "Everybody took a step forward from that group," Ellerson said. Jarrett Mackey had a good spring and will be able to step into the large shoes left by Josh McNary. With quarterback Trent Steelman sitting out the spring because of a shoulder injury, Ellerson got a good look at his quarterbacks and likes the depth he has with Max Jenkins and Jimmy Reitter.
Spring stars: Ellerson singled out a few players: Tyler Dickson at free safety, receiver Jared McFarlin and defensive linemen Corey Watts and Brian Zalneraitis and cornerback Casey Hughes.