With Coach Rich Ellerson's decision to have freshman quarterback Trent Steelman take the majority of reps with the first unit last week, there is a strong possibility that he will be the starter at quarterback when Army travels to Eastern Michigan on September 5th.
GoBlackKnights.com takes a look at how starting freshmen quarterbacks have done in opening and away football games in the past for the Black Knights.
How have freshmen fared starting at quarterback on opening day?
Charles Daly started the first game of the 1901 season at quarterback against Franklin & Marshall. Daly scored one touchdown and kicked a field goal, leading Army to a 20-0 victory.
Freshman John Wood opened at quarterback in 1908 against Tufts. During the first half, Army started a possession at midfield, and in subsequent plays rushed the ball to the Tufts 5-yard line. Wood than completed a touchdown pass to Edwin Grebel. It was the only score of the game, leading to a 5-0 victory by the Cadets.
In 1921, Army started the season with a double hitter against Springfield and New Hampshire. Head Coach Daly felt that Springfield was the tougher team, and played the first and second string teams, leading to a 28-6 win. The scrubs, led by Freshmen Edwin Johnson, played against New Hampshire. The Wildcats upset Army 10-7.
Head Coach Blaik started Fred Meyers on opening day in 1951 against Villanova. After the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, Meyers led the Cadets to two drives to the Villanova 10-yard line, but the Army team turned the ball over both times. Army recovered a fumble on the Villanova 7-yard line with eight seconds to go in the half, and Meyers completed a touchdown pass to Freshmen Tommy Bell, but the officials declared that time had run out before the play. After the Wildcats scored again in the third quarter, Army finally scored after recovering a fumble. Villanova won 21-7, the first time the Cadets lost a season opening game since 1893.
No other freshman has started at quarterback in an opening game.
How have freshmen done in away games?
Excluding Navy games, freshmen have started at quarterback for six away games during three seasons.
Fred Meyers started the second game of the 1951 season at Northwestern. Meyers was injured in the first quarter and was replaced by sophomore Dick Boyle. The Wildcats scored in the first quarter. In the third quarter, Army recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for its first score. Just before the end of the third quarter, Freddie Attaya intercepted a Northwestern pass and returned it 42 yards to the Northwestern 44-yard line. On the next play, Johnny Wing rushed 44 yards for a touchdown for a 14-7 lead. The Wildcats came back in the fourth quarter with 16 play, 80-yard scoring drive, but the extra point attempt hit the goal post, making the score 14-13 in the Cadets favor. Late in the fourth quarter, Northwestern scored on a 33 pass completion to win the game.
Freshman Pete Vann started the fourth game of the 1951 season at Harvard. Freddie Attaya scored on a 48-yard run in the first quarter. The Crimson scored a touchdown, blocked a punt for a safety and scored another touchdown in the second quarter. Vann then led Army on an 80-yard march, ending with a 25-yard completion to Ray Tensfeldt closing the Harvard lead to 15-14 at the half. Harvard scored in the third quarter by recovering its own fumble in the Army end zone. Army blocked a punt and recovered it on the Crimson 6-yard line, where Carl Guess scored on the next play, closing the gap to 22-21. But Army was unable to gain possession until the closing moments, and Vann's do-or-die pass from the Harvard 43-yard line was knocked down.
In 2002, freshman Zac Dahman started at quarterback at Rutgers. Less than five minutes into the game, he was intercepted for a 33-yard touchdown return to make the score 10-0 in the Scarlet Knights favor. Rutgers scored 10 points in the second period and 20 in the third quarter. Final score was 44-0.
Dahman started again against Houston and tossed a 78-yard bomb to Jacob Murphy on the second play of the game for a touchdown. The Cougars and Black Knights traded four touchdowns each during the first half, with Zac throwing two touchdown passes. He completed two more touchdown passes in the second half, but Houston scored four to finish the game 56-42. Dahman had the second best passing effort in Army history going 17-33-1 for 353 yards.
In 2006, Carson Williams started his first college game against Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome. After a slow start in the first half and a Green Wave 17-6 lead, Williams hit Walter Hill for a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-13. Tulane scored twice before Carson completed a 71-yard touchdown pass to Tim Dunn to close out scoring in the third quarter, with Tulane leading 30-20. The Green Wave scored twice in the fourth quarter before Williams hit Dunn again for 10-yard touchdown pass to close out the score at 42-28 in Tulane's favor. Williams was 16 for 28 for 194 yards.
Two games later, Williams started his third game at quarterback as a freshman at Notre Dame Stadium. After Army intercepted Irish quarterback Brady Quinn on their first possession, the Black Knights dominated the first quarter but only scored on a 27-yard field goal by Austin Miller. Notre Dame scored on its next six possessions to beat Army 41-9. Williams completed only one pass in 8 attempts and one interception.
As of the end of the 2008 season, no starting freshman quarterback has won an away game.
How have starting freshmen quarterbacks done against Navy?
Freshmen have started six Navy games, all but one of them played in Philadelphia.
In 1901, Charles Daly was the star in an 11-5 victory over the Midshipmen that brought President Roosevelt to the sideline to cheer. Daly kicked a 35-yard field goal and Navy responded with a touchdown but a missed extra point kick, leaving the score tied at 5-5 at halftime. Daly returned the opening kickoff 105-yards for a touchdown and kicked the extra point, accounting for all of Army's points. Daly twice was the last defender on long Midshipmen rushes, but his open field tackles prevented Navy from scoring.
Freshman Enoch Garey started at quarterback in 1904. Army scored twice in the first half leading to an 11-0 halftime lead which was the final score. It was the fourth straight win over Navy and the Cadets shut them out for the first time.
In 1905, Ronald Johnson started at quarterback against Navy in a game played at Princeton. There were traffic problems and both teams arrived after the scheduled kickoff. Army scored in the first half, while the Midshipmen scored after an Army holding call put the ball on the Army 25-yard line. The game was halted on account of darkness with the score tied 6-6, the first one in series history.
Bob Hyatt started against Navy in 1908, with the Army mule absent from the game. Army scored a touchdown in the opening minutes, holding Navy to a field goal, to lead at halftime 6-4. The Navy goat balked at visiting the Army side during halftime. No scoring occurred in the second half, and Army won for the first time in four years. "Anchors Aweigh," was unveiled during the game and became the song symbolizing Navy football and the U.S. Navy.
Fred Meyers recovered from his injury to start the Penn and Navy games to conclude the 1951 season. Navy scored twice before Army ever had a possession. The only Freshmen Midshipmen, John Raster, intercepted Meyers for a 101-yard return for a touchdown to make it 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. Meyers did score on a 4-yard run in the third quarter. The final score was a 42-7 Navy victory.
Carson Williams started his fourth consecutive game during the 2006 season against Navy. Jeremy Trimble scored on a 41-yard double reverse to open the scoring. Navy came back to tie the score in the first quarter. After a Navy touchdown in the third quarter and a field goal midway in the fourth quarter, Navy was leading 17-7 when Keenan Little intercepted a Williams pass and returned it 40-yards for a touchdown. After Navy scored on a safety, Carson hit Tim Dunn for a 12-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left in the game, ending the scoring at 26-14 for Navy' fifth straight victory.
In conclusion, starting freshmen quarterbacks are 2-2 on opening day, 0-6 in away games, and 3-2-1 against Navy.
Army has opened its season eight times on the road, and never won (1965 Tennessee 0-21; 1981 Missouri 10-24, 1982 Missouri 10-23, 1989 Syracuse 7-10, 2000 Cincinnati 17-23, 2005 Boston College 7-44, 2006 Arkansas State 6-14 and 2007 Akron 14-22).
So what does that say about Army's chances against Eastern Michigan if Steelman is starts under center?
Well, if you were to ask first year Army Head Coach Rich Ellerson
he would probably tell you that it means absolutely nothing. He would most likely confirm that he is not aware, let alone concern with the historical element of freshmen quarterbacks starting opening games for Army or the Black Knights lack of success with opening games on the road. The fiery mentor has been and is currently preparing the members of the Black & Gold of Army to play aggressive and explosive Army football or as defensive coordinator Sadaat described the defense style, with "controlled chaos". But of course the goal is start the 2009 season at 1-0, no matter who starts under center.
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