Dissecting the Coverage: Army Hits the Coaching Carousel
Good morning, friends!
Army Football has hit the coaching carousel, and Army Lacrosse is right around the corner. Let’s get it on!
Elijah Riley was all over the @ShrineBowl field this weekend.
⚫️ EAST Team Captain
🟡 32 minutes played
⚫️ 51 snaps
🟡 5 tackles
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) January 21, 2020
Army Football Coaching Moves and Rumors
Quarterbacks Coach Mitch Ware announced his retirement this week after thirty-five years, including the last six at West Point. He mentored some outstanding players, including Ahmad Bradshaw and Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., both of whom saw phenominal success at USMA. He will be replaced by Coach Cody Worley, who held the same job at Kennesaw State.
QBs coach Mitch Ware has announced his retirement.
We congratulate Mitch on his outstanding coaching career and thank him for being a mentor to the countless number of players and coaches during his 35 years, especially our cadet-athletes over the last 6 seasons. #GoArmy pic.twitter.com/yMmu4VY2Hd
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) January 20, 2020
Join us in welcoming Cody Worley to West Point!
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) January 20, 2020
Like Army, Kennesaw State runs a version of the Flexbone, and at some point, the AFF Crew is gonna have to watch some of their tape because we’ve seen quite a few guys from there heading to one of the academies of late. Recall that Navy hired Kennesaw State’s Defensive Coordinator right after the 2018 season.
Army also announced Coach Greg Gasparato as a new defensive assistant. He comes over from Appalachian State, where he coached safeties for two years. Gotta think this move is tied to Army’s new DC Nate Woody, who also came from the App State staff, though two years removed.
Welcome to West Point Greg Gasparato!
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) January 18, 2020
Coach Keith Gaither is returning to West Point to coach wide receivers. He replaces Marcus Edwards. I hate it for Edwards, but I gotta say that I really like the idea of bringing Gaither back.
— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) January 11, 2020
Inside linebackers coach Kevin Corless is also leaving. Sal Interdonato is reporting that he’ll be replaced by none other than former DC/current assistant HC John Loose. I’ve not read that anywhere else, so we’ll see how it shakes out. I also read somewhere that Coach Matt Drinkall is taking over tight ends from Coach Sean Saturnio, but I can’t find the source for that one, so let’s consider it a rumor at this point.
Regardless, Saturnio is expected to stay with the staff, though I’ve not seen which position he’ll take. Saturnio recruits Hawaii and is in every pregame hype video, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he winds up with some kind of promotion. Regardless, they obviously cannot afford to lose him.
Hat tip to Sal for finding this one as well.
Since taking over at #Army in 2014, Jeff Monken has wanted to broaden the program’s recruiting profile to include more of the state’s football hotbeds. “There has been a significant effort to bring in guys from Tampa Bay." @ArmyWP_Football @JesuitTigers_FB https://t.co/xwqnfjb4mg
— Tampa Bay HomeTeam (@TBHomeTeam) January 20, 2020
I love this. I did my last two years of high school at Chamberlain in Tampa, and I remember well how competitive the local football teams were. Chamberlain used to put kids into both the academies and the Ivies on a regular basis, and we had a few go on to major college programs as well. I’ll admit that I didn’t follow Jesuit particularly closely, but a good friend of mine went there, and I know that he liked it quite a bit.
Expanding the recruiting footprint is obviously critical. Army has been hitting Georgia and Texas pretty regularly, but Florida is arguably the biggest pond. I’m excited to see where this leads over time.
Army Men’s Lacrosse
Army Lacrosse ranked second in the preseason Patriot League poll. That’s not exactly surprising, but they are the defending champs. U.S. Lacrosse Magazine has them ranked 20th nationally. Army and Loyola both received 111 points in the Patriot League poll, but Loyola got 8 first place votes to Army’s 7.
— Army M.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_MLax) January 20, 2020
Yearling star Attacker Brendan Nichtern, Firstie Midfielder Matt Manown, and Firstie Defender Tom Rigney were all named to the preseason All-Patriot League team. They’ll go up against an improved Lehigh squad that very nearly bounced them from the Patriot League Tournament last year as well as perennially top-10 Loyola.
We’ll talk about this more when we do the actual Lacrosse Season Preview, but Army’s got some big shoes to fill. They’ll have to replace Goalie A.J. Barretto, who was outstanding last season, as well as perennial All-American Defender Johnny Surdick.
“You don’t necessarily replace those guys. So it has to be by committee.”
— US Lacrosse Magazine (@USLacrosseMag) January 6, 2020
Surdick in particular is not the kind of loss the team can casually make up for with “the next man up”. Between Surdick, Rigney, and Barretto, Army has played a predominantly defensive game for the past two or so years. Now the team’s best players — at least as far as preseason expectations are concerned — are Nichtern and their midfielding corps. This team is probably going to have to outscore opponents rather than smothering them on defense, which in turn means they’ll need to perform better on face-offs.
Two years ago, I’d have said that wasn’t a problem. Last year, though, they were actively bad at the “X”. With Surdick and Barretto back there, that didn’t matter as much as it could have. This year, it might.
🥍 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬 𝗠𝗲𝗻'𝘀 𝗟𝗮𝗰𝗿𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝗣𝗼𝗹𝗹 & 𝗔𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀
— Patriot League Network | PatriotLeague.tv (@PatriotLeagueTV) January 20, 2020
Army’s Women are seeded fourth in Patriot League preseason poll. They had a lot of really great wins last year, but they weren’t quite to the level of competing with the very best teams in the country. Unfortunately, the list of “very best teams in the country” in Women’s Lacrosse includes Navy, so there’s still a ways to go here.
Army’s Women have been recruiting well, and despite having a young team outperformed expectations in 2019. They could very easily take a step forward this year, but it’s hard to predict that before we’ve even seen them take the field.
— Army W.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_WLax) December 23, 2019
— Army W.Lacrosse (@ArmyWP_WLax) January 21, 2020
That’s all we’ve got this week. I’m headed out to Colorado on Friday to ski Breckinridge with my buddy Brian (’95). Look for the pics next week if you’re into that sort of thing.
Let’s finish strong and enjoy the weekend!