Another half-dozen Army-Navy tidbits, starting with a strategy discussion. No PowerPoints, we promise.
1. Cut it out. With the NFL considering banning blocks below the waist in 2013, Dan Wolken at USA Today takes a hard look at what such a move in college football could do the future of option offenses such as those used by all three service academies. It’s great timing for a great thought piece — cut blocks are a key weapon in the academy arsenal, allowing undersized linemen to compete in the trenches and giving defenders one more thing to think about while they try to combat the misdirection-filled option attack. Key quote from Army’s Rich Ellerson: “At a service academy, you won’t have 300-pound guys, so you get strong, fit, athletic guys that need to use their athleticism to be effective blockers. To turn it into a Greco-Roman type, push-shove game, the physics work against us.”
2. Senior leadership, Part I. Philly.com reflects on Army quarterback Trent Steelman’s career, including some handy stat boxes at the end. Fans of Army football history will recognize many of the elite names that appear next to, or under, Steelman’s in some key statistics. The senior will start his 46th and final game for the Black Knights on Saturday.
3. Senior leadership, Part II. Navy senior defensive back Brye French will wear a patch Saturday honoring SEAL Lt. Brendan Looney, an Annapolis football and lacrosse player who died in a helicopter crash over Afghanistan in 2010, The Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens reports. Stevens has more on why French decided on the honor, plus a talk with a coach who worked with both players. Also, a tidbit on senior slotback John Howell, a Philadelphia-area product who missed the end of the season with a knee injury. He may have one run (or jog, at least) left in him come game time on Saturday.
4. QB debate. It’s a showdown between two of our favorites — Army football guru Sal Interdonato and Navy beat reporter Bill Wagner present both sides in the Steelman vs. Keenan Reynolds argument. Youth or experience? Steadiness or explosiveness? Will the unflappable freshman finally … well, flap, I guess … under the Army-Navy spotlight? You make the call.
5. Lessons learned. Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun gives readers a glimpse inside the mind of Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, and how a blowout loss in Ireland followed by a rough start in the states helped shaped the coach and the program going forward.
6. Pregame TV notes: Television coverage of Saturday’s game has expanded in recent years thanks to CBS’s cable sports presence. CBS Sports Network will air “The Army-Navy Special Presented by USAA” on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, and two-and-a-half hours of pregame coverage Saturday, starting at noon Eastern and including the march-ons from both schools. CBS begins its network coverage at 2:30 p.m., with kickoff shortly after 3 p.m.