For the Black Knights' senior class, this will be their their final football game in front of the fans at Michie Stadium as Army host the Fordham Rams. Coach Ellerson and his team have a 2-1 record in its first three home games of 2011, with wins over Northwestern and Tulane
Fordham is making their way to West Point after losing last week to Lafayette, 45-24. The Rams came away with an impressive 565 yards of offense which is a season-high.
Army fans may have thought that this will be one game where size is not in favor of the Black Knights' opponents. Well don't be surprise when Fordham's offense takes the field and from tackle to tackle, they average close to 300 pounds.
And at the skilled positions, the Rams have some athletes that can really move, so again, don't let their IAA designation fool you, this team is coming to play.
When you look in the backfield, you will see 6-foot-3, 235 pound running back Darryl Whiting, who resembles Eddie George, rushed for a season-high 128 yards on 20 carries and has gained 467 yards and is a load on the season.
Even with Whiting, the Rams are a predominately throwing team, where they will line-up in their three wide and sometimes four wide formation.
And that's where Ryan Higgins comes into play. The junior quarterback, threw for an amazing 413 yards and two touchdowns last week, as the Rams fell to Lafayette 45-24. The 6-foot-3, 220 pound signal caller can really launch the deep ball and has a couple of receiver that can run underneath it.
Receivers Blake Wayne and Carlton Koonce lead the team with 25 and 23 receptions, respectively. Koonce, who was a former Army recruit, leads the team with four receiving touchdowns.
To offset Higgins' style of play, Fordham will bring in 6-foot-2, 235 pound quarterback Griffin Murphy, who is a really hard runner once he tucks it down.
Junior QB Ryan Higgins completed 32 of his 52 throws for 413 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Senior RB Darryl Whiting rushed for a season-high 128 yards on 20 carries.
Offensively, the Rams average 15.9 points and 317.7 yards per game
IAA or not, the Army defense will be challenged on Saturday and with the "new" look offense that will have a quarterback in Max Jenkins under center for the injured Trent Steelman. Add to that, the strong possibility that freshman Larry Dixon will get the nod at fullback in front of junior mainstay, Jared Hassin.
So why do will feel Dixon will make his starting debut this weekend? As the team has moved past the midpoint of their schedule, so has Dixon's maturity as a ballplayer. That development can be seen in his technique and his assignments. Clearly competition breeds better ball players. As such, Hassin had a very solid practice on Tuesday and sometimes you a player just needs the competition to push him, which is what is unfolding with Army 1-2 punch at fullback.
But the bottom-line is being able to look at the whole package and right now, young Mr. Dixon is playing better than the seasoned Hassin.
On defense, the Rams an aggressive and fast group, but have giving up 31.7 points and 468.3 yards per game. On paper, this doesn't bod well for the visiting Fordham Rams, who will have to have all defensive cylinders working to slow down an Army rushing attack that ranks #1 in the nation with a 348.29 per game rushing average.
Fordham does have the talent to make some plays offensively, but the downfall for the Rams has been their consistency or lack of it.
Make no mistake about it, this is a big stage game for Fordham and they would like nothing better than to say they made their way up to West Point and knocked off Army.
If you ask around the Fordham, there fan base has been looking for this all year. As one observer close to the Army program pointed out. "I've got buddies down at Fordham and they are telling me that since this game has been on the schedule that is all their alumni have talked about," he notes.
Although Army should have the edge on most levels of this ballgame, the overall prevailing thoughts are they this could be hard fought encounter.
As such, Saturday's 3:30pm contest at Michie Stadium is sold out.
Notables: Like Fordham, the Black Knights have their share of home grown (New York) players on the roster.
Senior WR Davyd Brooks, 6-3, 212 (Newburgh, N.Y./Newburgh Free Academy)
Junior SB Malcolm Brown, 5-11, 180 (Bay Shore, N.Y./Islip)
Junior OT Ben Jebb, 6-5, 246 (Cornwall, N.Y./Cornwall)
Sophomore WR Jared McFarlin, 6-5, 195 (Monroe, N.Y./Monroe-Woodbury)
Sophomore WR Patrick Laird, 6-3, 205 (Monroe, N.Y./Monroe-Woodbury)
Sophomore DL Mitch McKearn, 6-2, 220 (West Point, N.Y./O'Neill)
Freshman DL Joe Drummond, 6-3, 220 (Pittsford, N.Y./The Charles Finney School)
Freshman OL Billy Allen, 6-1, 260 (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City)
Freshman OL David Evans, 6-3, 260 (Sauquoit, N.Y./Sauquoit Valley Central)
Freshman DL Chris Outing, 6-5, 250 (West Point, N.Y./O'Neill)
Freshman RB Stephen Ricciardi, 6-0, 190 (West Harrison, N.Y./Harrison)
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