West Point, NY – On a second consecutive beautiful, sunny, spring Saturday afternoon, CFF.com watched a spring football scrimmage. Albeit that the number of fans at West Point was miniscule compared to the 72,000 in attendance at the Penn State practice game the weekend before, the more intimate crowd was entertained by a more spirited and harder hitting scrimmage, one that included real special teams play and real live hitting on the QBs. In the end, the Gold team featuring the second string offense and first team defense held off the Black team to a 20-14 win. CFF.com came away especially impressed by Frosh QB Matt Kaufmann who subbed the entire game for Senior Angel Santiago. He seems to not only have a good handle on the offense under new HC Jeff Monken who came to West Point after substantial success at FCS Georgia Southern, but his passing was the most effective of all QBs. He finished the day 13 of 17 for 206 yards and a TD. Despite his superior stats over former starter AJ Schurr ( 9 of 18 for 137), finding a handle on the ball was sometimes a problem for him, but not as much for Schurr who seemed to struggle in the ball handling department more often for a QB with significantly more game experience. Kaufman possesses a stronger arm from we saw during the scrimmage than we saw from Santiago a year ago, but his short stature could pose problems against some of the bigger teams Army will face during the regular season. Soph FB Matt Giachinta (Cold Spring, NY, Paramus Catholic, NJ), ran for 68 tough yards and a TD for Gold while the Black’s senior FB Larry Dixon rushed 12 times for 58 yards and a TD. Fullback will be an Army strength. On defense, Josh Jenkins stood out at DB as he made some solid hits and forced and recovered a fumble by the Black with less than two minutes to play to seal the win for the Gold. Army will have a lot of sharpening up to do during the fall, but in typical Army tradition, they will play hard. We didn’t see the triple option run as much or as efficiently as Navy’s as we had expected to see since Monken coached at Navy before taking over as HC at GSU. Ball handling will need a lot of improvement as there were too many miscues between center and QB as well as handoffs and laterals from QBs. Schurr showed some toughness particularly on taking a solid hit while completing a roll out to his left right in front of his HC who roamed the field during the course of the game. The hit took place on the first scoring drive by the Black before the half ended as the Gold got off to a 17-0 lead. The ACC officiating crew seemed to let both sides get away with a lot of early movement from what I saw as well as some evident holding in certain situations. Army will be in for another tough season, but they should be able to hang in tougher against some of the competition they play next year coming off a 3-9 season a year ago. It was good to see a “live” scrimmage with some good hitting.
Notes: When we see Army play Navy in Baltimore next season, it will be feature the namesake of a former Army cadet who shares the same name. Edgar Poe plays WR for Army. The frosh WR caught three passes yesterday. Baltimore was the home of famous late, author Edgar Allen Poe, writer and poet of horror stories who attended, but did not graduate from West Point… Army’s football roster consists of about 60% of players who attended the Army Prep school (USMAPS). It’s a preparatory school for athletes to achieve required grade levels and for enlisted personnel from the Army to make the transition into the academy to become officers….Both squads had four former players who are former West Point football players serve as honorary captains. One was Colonel Greg Gadson, class of ’89, who lost both legs in service to his country. He’s been associated with the New York Giants a number of years as an honorary member of the team who is seen at games cheering them on from his wheelchair…Looking to see if we can juggle around our schedule a little bit next year to see if we can work in the Army-Air Force game as part of our schedule. Maybe the Big Tailgate. Right now it may be Rice, but a couple of pending changes may help us to do this. Check out our 2014 schedule for our updates as we continue to work this out during the off season…Army plays at Stanford next year, probably the only ranked team on its schedule. They will visit Yale at the Yale Bowl and play UConn at Yankee Stadium…Our fourth and final spring game is this Saturday at 4 pm at the Rutgers Scarlet-White game.