Dissecting the Coverage: First Look Ahead
Happy Friday, everyone.
We shot a new As For Football College Football podcast this week. Not sure when it’s gonna come out, but we spent quite a bit of time talking about coaching changes, expectations and scheduling for upcoming seasons, and soon-to-be-former Athletic Director Boo Corrigan’s legacy at West Point. There’s also a bit on recruiting, and if you’ve never heard my Harvard story, well, that’s in there as well.
Check it out!
Collins steps down as SVSU football coach to join Army football staff (Midland Daily News)
Saginaw Valley State University announced Monday that football coach Jim Collins is leaving the program after 11 seasons to join the football staff of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (Army), an NCAA Division I program…
Collins took over the reins of the Cardinal football program in 2008, beginning a stretch of 11 years that matches George Ihler’s 11 seasons as the most by an SVSU head football coach. He compiled an overall record of 65-56 with a 58-49 mark in GLIAC play.
Saginaw Valley made three Division II playoff appearances under Collins. SVSU won three straight GLIAC North Division championships from 2011-2013. In 2018, the Cardinals finished 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the GLIAC.
We talked on the podcast about some of the recent coaching hires, and this hire in particular fits the pattern. Head Coach Jeff Monken is hiring guys who’ve had legitimate success as leaders at their respective institutions, and guys appear to be accepting positions at Army because they see opportunity to grow and to increase their profession profile under Coach Monken.
This is kind of a new phenomenon at the Academy, but it’s certainly a welcome one. I’m personally quite excited to see how things shake out in the future.
Tweets of the Week
— Mike Viti (@MikeViti) February 26, 2019
— Army Swim & Dive (@ArmyWP_SwimDive) February 22, 2019
Army Men’s and Women’s Swimming both finished second at the Patriot League Championships this past week. Both teams had quite a few individual and relay event champions alongside a double-handful of Academy records.
My favorite by far was cow Kevin Doo’s win in the 100 Butterfly. Swimming has gotten crazy fast since back in the day, and honestly, it’s a little hard to wrap my head around it at times. Twenty-five years ago, this swim might’ve put Doo on the podium at the NCAA Championship Meet.
— #19 Brigade Review (@brigade_review) February 25, 2019
Folks, @BrigadeReview is a must-follow. I’m not going to try to run all their coverage down for the week, but I will note that Men’s Lax lost a tough two-goal contest at Syracuse last Sunday. The Black Knights fell from #13 to #15 as a result, and the Orange moved up from something like #17 to around #13. That said, these early season rankings probably don’t mean overmuch save that they set the Men up to succeed in the postseason if they can maintain their success through Patriot League play.
Lafayette comes to Michie Stadium at noon tomorrow. Assuming the Black Knights can get a convincing win, then their road loss to a top team is not necessarily a disaster. However, they need to maintain the kind of offensive production and aggressive full-ride defense we saw against Marist. That’s not necessarily an easy ask, and at least last season, we saw Army occasionally play down to the level of their competition.
But this is where are. This year’s team was expected to rebuild, but after two convincing road wins against ranked teams, the Black Knights suddenly have legitimate expectations. That’s good, but they’ll need to regain their momentum and come strong into conference play.
Our March cover is released. Check out the story on @ArmyWP_MLax this Friday in the latest issue of #SportsUnion. Check out stories on @caitlinbish27 @mvesneske05 @MarissaHayes26 @FredoniaSB @KaitlynSportsRD.@allykeirn @ArmyLaxCoach @bscathletics @SoftballState @NUPurpleEagles pic.twitter.com/5wmOExTW4i
— Sports Union (@sportsunionwny) February 26, 2019
Meanwhile, the Women remain perfect. Granted, they haven’t seen the same level of competition, but they have been extremely convincing against the teams that they’ve played. They host Monmouth this Saturday after the Men’s game and will begin Patriot League play on March 16th against Loyola.
I expect we’ll learn a lot more about this Women’s team when they take on the Greyhounds.
— ArmyWestPoint Sports (@GoArmyWestPoint) February 27, 2019
Army may this year have a chance to dream about another Heisman trophy. Our last Heisman was in 1958 and I believe our last contender was Mike Mayweather in 1990 who finished 10th in voting. Navy in 2015 had Kennan Reynolds who finished 5th in Heisman voting. Air Force had Michael “Dee” Dowes finish 6th in 1989.
Recognize that Kelvin Hopkins is not yet even on the top ten Heisman contender list. The question is do you agree that Army (and Service Academy) fans can again begin to toy with the idea of having a real potential Heisman contender and do you see West Point willing to get the PR machinery behind it now? I saw West Point backing Kenneth Brinson as a finalist for the Campbell trophy – but for the Heisman it would require a much bigger effort and a need to start much earlier? Is there any buzz about this at the Academy?
Short answer: “No way in Hell.”
For a variety of reasons, but the most recent is Keenan Reynolds’s experience at Navy. Reynolds played about as well as you can ask a service academy quarterback to play, and he started for the vast majority of his Navy career, and he still wound up pigeonholed as merely a “system” quarterback. Navy was quite keen for him to get recognized, too, but I never saw any mainstream media coverage that mentioned him as a contender.
Beyond that, my sense is that the general college football world likes Army’s story, but not enough–and not broadly enough–to let West Point challenge the modern-day bluebloods for national air-time. They’re fine to talk patriotism and Army Football but much, much less keen to talk football and Army Football. You turn on ESPN at any point except during Army-Navy Week, and they’re just not talking about the Black Knights. Even during Army-Navy Week, they spent most of their time this past season talking about either the College Football Playoff or the Heisman Trophy race. That will have to change before we can begin talking Heismans again at West Point.
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Just Strong Athletics
My wife just became a brand ambassador for Just Strong athletics, a clothing and lifestyle brand out of the UK. So if you order something and use her code “SALLYHEAD10”, you get 10% off, and she gets a commission. That is awesome!
Please do us a favor and check it out. She’s got her own link and everything, all you have to do it click:
I have to admit that I really like their stuff.
I bring this up because As For Football is looking for sponsors, and the above embedded advertisement is an example of the way we’d like to proceed. We’d like to find a title sponsor for our podcast and a few corporate sponsors as well, if possible, and with the reach that we have on social media, we believe we can get your brand out in front of the vast majority of the West Point community.
Friends, this is a group with notoriously deep pockets.
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Seriously. Give it a try.
The zone read is kind of like football’s version of the pick-and-roll… But defensive football can be basketball on grass, too. Back in 2015, the Warriors evolved what the mid-aughts Atlanta Hawks did, which was basically run out a bunch of 6’8 small forwards and let it ride. It proved to be the future of the NBA.
The one constant week-to-week: “Everyone is a blitzer,” says Bateman. “A kid is a defensive end—well, now he’s a linebacker, or a strong safety. How does a quarterback declare him? [Their offense will] start blocking guys that aren’t even rushing, and not block guys who are.” From this, Army employs six different blitzes, but Bateman runs them out of dozens of personnel packages, which he says forces offensive coordinators to spend twice the normal time in preparation.
Bateman says the biggest concern he’s heard from visiting NFL coaches about this kind of multiplicity is that it requires immense brain power from the safeties in charge of lining everyone up and from the corners memorizing the coverages. Bateman’s solution is to have his defense operate as a collection of grouped special forces. They use one-word calls, the first letter of which pertains to a specific position group, alerting players as to who is blitzing. Linebackers, for example, might be assigned an S-word—so if the call is “spider,” linebackers are going after the QB. The other groups know what coverage or technique to play when the linebackers blitz.
It’ll be super-interesting to see how Bateman’s defense plays without West Point-caliber leaders on the field to make sure that everyone stays in position and understands the play. I’m rooting for him, but I would also very much like to see Army put UNC on the schedule in the not-too-distant future.
Bill C’s 2019 130-Team Preview (SB*Nation)
Bill Connelly goes deep on every single team in FBS, starting with Bowling Green and ending with the SEC favorite, with big conference rundowns as each league wraps up.
I’m not the biggest believer in the predictive power of S&P+, but I still like a lot of what Connelly’s done here, and his model provides a useful framework for understanding what’s changed year-to-year with teams that we don’t often get to watch on TV. Of immediate concern to Army fans is that Connelly has already posted previews for Rice, UTSA, and Western Kentucky, all of whom are on the 2019 schedule.
Long story short, he pegs Rice to improve a bit, UTSA to continue regressing, and WKU to get back to .500.
I’m all-in on Western Kentucky, but Connelly’s write-up of Rice and UTSA convinced me of the reverse of his hypothesis. Rice just has too far to go while UTSA appears to have quite a bit of talent with a proven coaching staff despite a year of catastrophic regression. The Roadrunners need to get their offense on-track against a beatable schedule, and they have a new Offensive Coordinator to help make that happen. Feels doable. Maybe not in the early going, but by the time they get into October, I think they’ll start winning again.
We’ll do our own an initial preview once Spring Football starts. Look for that around the middle of this month.
AAF Week 4 Preview
Saturday's Week 4 matchups. 🏈 #JoinTheAlliance
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 27, 2019
A couple of interesting games tomorrow. Memphis looks much better with former Titans’ QB Zach Mettenberger under center. Suddenly, they have a legitimate professional offense. But San Diego also seems to have found its footing. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Express get their first win this week, but I expect a close game. The Fleet cannot afford to lose ground in a close West division.
Orlando at Salt Lake is similar. The Apollos have looked like the best team in the Alliance, and they certainly have the best offense. However, the Stallions finally seem to have found something last week, and their defense has been at least decent all season. After last week’s victory over Arizona, the Stallions might just be the team to beat in the West. Certainly, they can’t afford to drop a game now.
Sunday's Week 4 matchups. 🏈 #JoinTheAlliance
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 27, 2019
As has been the case for most of the season, the Sunday afternoon CBS Sports Network game looks like the best of the weekend. San Antonio has had a couple of tough losses, but they have a good team on both sides of the ball, which is not something that every AAF team can say. By comparison, Birmingham is all defense. But man, that defense has been outstanding.
I personally root for Birmingham, but they badly need to find a way to throw the ball a bit more effectively.
Alas, the Sunday night game looks God-awful. Atlanta sucks, and Arizona flat wasn’t good after QB John Wolford went out last Saturday. This one, at least, you can afford to skip and read about on Monday morning.
That’s all I’ve got. Enjoy the weekend!