Too Early Previews: Army Black Knights (QUOTES from Jeff Monken-Army HC)
The Black Knights encountered adversity early in the season with the tragic loss sophomore cornerback, Brandon Jackson, in a single-car accident Sept. 12. Nevertheless, the team constructed a respectable record, finishing the regular season 7–5 and downing the North Texas Mean Green 38–31 in the Dallas Bowl. Army had notable wins against Wake Forest and Navy (snapping a 14-year losing streak in the series), but suffered a loss to Air Force. Returning 15 of last year’s starters, Army football plans to build on the momentum. My initial reaction after looking at their returning roster was that the team was stacked. However, the coach thought differently.
"This Spring we’ll go back to working on fundamental,” explained Jeff Monken, Head Football Coach of the Black Knights. “We don’t have a lot of depth at safety, and with the injuries we’ve had at cornerback, we’re not deep there either. I don’t feel as though we have a veteran team, and it’s a little nerve-racking.”
Nevertheless, Monken is approaching his fourth season with Army, and has seen a ladder-like improvement each year.
“I think the 2015 season was an inclination that we were headed in the right direction, I understand a lot of people didn’t see it that way, said Monken. “ we went 4-8 the first year, 2-10 the second, but it was clear to me that we were building a better team. Seven of those ten losses were by a touchdown or less. This year was a good year, not a great year. We had some adversity, obviously, with the death of Brandon Jackson. But, our guys bounced back, beat Navy, and it spoke to their character."
The fact that Army brings back so much experience will be tough to contend with if you’re and steadfast Navy team or rebuilding your entire defense like Air Force. If you have concerns, look no further than the backfield, which returns nine of their top ball carriers from last year. Yes, that’s correct, nine large members of offensive production are back, as well as four of five offensive linemen. Army will find themselves topping both its rival academies, as well as several other worthy opponents.
My regular season prediction: 9-3