Overview: It is always tough preparing for the triple-option offense and hybrid defense of Army. Battling the Black Knights on Saturday for the third consecutive season, Ball State will have to do just that. The Cardinals come in at 1-0 after a second half shellacing of Illinois State. Army, also 1-0, is coming off of an impressive victory over Morgan State in which they committed no turnover and had no penalties.
Positional Breakdown – OFFENSE
QUARTERBACK – Graduate (thankfully) is Army’s option ace Trent Steelman, but in his place steps another tough and athletic QB in Jr. Angelo Santiago. Although he might not be as powerful a runner as Steelman was, Santiago is still a force on the ground and made several lengthy runs against Morgan State. Furthermore, the 5-11 188 Santiago looks to be the better passer after connecting on 4 bombs a week ago and will be able to keep the Cardinals from crashing down too hard on the run game.
RUNNING BACK –With a triple option team, things typically begin with the FB spot and Army is no different. 6-0 238 sledghammer Larry Dixon has rushed for almost 1,500 yards in his career and amassed 9 yards a carry in the season opener. On the ouside are A-Back Terry Baggett and C-Back Raymond Maples. Both backs also bring good size (Baggett at 6-1 200, Maples at 6-1 218) and burst on the outside. Maples, a Senior, has 2,500 yards plus on his career. Joining them are capable back ups Hayden Tippett at FB and Trenton Turrentine.
WIDE RECEIVER – Army doesn’t throw the ball often, but they have big and capable WR for the instances where a passing game is warranted. Starting WRs Chevaughn Lawrence and Xavier Moss are both over 6-2 and have solid speed. Moss, a true Freshman, caught 2 passes for 75 yards last week.
OFFENSIVE LINE – As is always the case with Army, the offensive line is small, especially by FBS standards, but athletic and physical. They do what they do and they do it very well and that is cut blocking. No Black Knight lineman stands over 6-2 and OG Stephen Shumaker (6-0 264) is the biggest of the group. Three starters are very experienced in Ryan Powis (18 starts), OT Michael Kime (14) and Shumaker (13) .
Positional Breakdown – DEFENSE
DEFENSIVE LINE – Part of the odd Double-Eagle Flex Defense that Army throws at you is the 5 down linemen they can and will use. The Black Knights use a hybrid DE/OLB position called a Quick who will stand up some plays and put his hand in the dirt others. The looks causes havoc on a defensive line on who is blitzing and who is dropping while also tying up all blockers and allowing LBs to run free. Starting Quick – Dalton Mendenhall, racked up 7 tackles a week ago while DE Joe Drummond had 3 and one of the Black Knights’ 3 sacks.
LINEBACKER – With 5 down linemen, the Black Knights will use a single LB and two hybrid type LB/S players. MIKE LB Alex Meier had 11 tackles a week ago while Rover Thomas Holloway had 6 and SAM Shaquille Tolbert added 2 more .
SECONDARY – Senior S Geoffrey Bacon is the heart and soul of the Army defense, the converted LB has started 18 games and is only a Junior. Bacon is a machine and has the ability to always be where the ball is as evidenced by his 16 tackles in the opener. Joining him in the secondary are 2 large DBs in Josh Jenkins, a 6-0 Fr., and Hayden Pierce a 6-3 Jr. Pierce had 6 tackles last week.
SPECIALISTS – Daniel Grochowski is a 6-2 Sophomore who connected on all 4 of his extra point attempts, but did not attempt a field goal. Punter Alex Tardieu had 3 punts for a 38.7 yard average.