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5/07/2010

Question of the Day #4: Will Army's Option Work?

Q: Will Army's option offense work in 2010?

A: Somewhat.

I want to bill Army as one of the top sleepers in this year's college football landscape. They were eons better than anything Michie Stadium had seen from the Black Knight football program a year ago. I mean, statistically they didn't improve much from 2008 to 2009 just by installing the option, but they did manage to shield their defense a little more often which resulted in a 5-7 record, two more wins than they managed in '09.

Now the question here is whether or not the option can start to look more like Navy's instead of averaging 275 yards per game. It's an interesting question, and I think we will see improvement. It's difficult to ask Rich Ellerson to complete an entire turn around the mess left behind by Stan Brock (and his failed attempt to use the wishbone and other option formations).

I would even submit that this year's schedule is slightly more difficult than the one in 2009. Even at 5-7, Army could still show improvement. That will have to come statistically. Ellerson was disappointed by the offensive output, because even though they ranked 16th in rushing offense, the point-production simply wasn't there. You want to be higher than 16th if you focus 90+% of your offense on that category.

The surrounding cast still looks good enough with most of the offensive line coming back and the running back corps should be solid enough and experienced in the option offense. The biggest drawback on Army is (obviously) across-the-board size and speed which Ellerson has shown his creative side to filling in gaps and the fact that the quarterback spot was inefficient. Even in an option game, your QB is after all going to touch the ball on every play. Trent Steelman is a work in progress in reading who should get the ball and when, but there's potential. Army's option can only work if the QB play improves.

I think we will see Steelman have a better grasp of the offense. Let's remember here, this was his first year in collegiate play and the option mistakes we saw last year from Army certainly weren't all his fault. He could become a sharper passer which would do the rest of the offense better, considering only 49% was his completion percentage. But he can scamper and if he gets better with his option reads, this offense will see its production skyrocket.

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