November 13, 2009

Army Offensive Coordinator, Ian Shields talks progress

As Helen Keller was stated, when asked if blindness was the worst handicap, she replied no, it's a man who has sight but no vision.

Hence, when you listen to Black Knights' OC Ian Shields, you hear from a coach who has the ability to maintain his finger on the pulse of now, but also look ahead.

"Most of the guys that are in the huddle on both sides of the ball are coming back next year and that's a positive," shares Shields. They are getting on the job training and in some cases, perhaps a little sooner than we would have liked.


Without discounting the need and urgency to 2009 results, Shields is optimistic about the youthful talent on the offensive side that is currently developing in the Black Knights' system.

Coach Shields took time out of his schedule to chat with and share his thoughts on some of the players and their maturation.

"When you look at the development of some and I will take Trent (Steelman) as the first example," Shields begins to explain. "To play against a defense like Air Force that is one of the top ten defenses in the nation and legitimately are … Utah had eight first downs against them and they are legitimate top 10 team (actually 16th). To take kid out there and if you were to tell me that would rush for 100 yards and zero turnovers, I would take that. Now he did not do it alone, guys were blocking and things were executed. That speaks to his maturity and he's gaining on it … obviously he's a weapon and when he gets in the open he can run away from guys. That is something that people are going to have to defend and not only for the rest of this year, but years to come.

Certainly he can become a little more explosive, but from what I've been told from the guys that played here and walk these halls before, the plebe year is the toughest one physically. So when you look at a Malcolm Brown, Lonnie Liggins or Trent Steelman or any of these young guys … George Jordan ... any of these guys coming to us from the prep and especially direct, I think we'll will see leaps and bounds on a strength training program once they get through their plebe year."


"Kingsley Ehieplayed his best game for us against Air Force … he ran hard, broke some tackles against linebackers, he got through the game with perfect ball security and blocked well on Trent's long touchdown," states the offensive coordinator. "He is a presence as a blocker and probably more of a natural blocker than runner and against Air Force, that's the best he's played with the ball in hand."

Freshman Malcolm Brownand Lonnie Liggins continue to make strides, but both have been fighting for time and injuries throughout the inaugural campaign. "Lonnie has been battling a little knee injury," says Shields. "Malcolm didn't play as well as he did in the Rutgers' game from a blocking standpoint although he had a couple of carries. Jameson Carter played well and block extraordinary well. He's getting back to playing like he is fresh and although it doesn't show up in the stats, he played well.

Shields was quick to point out that speedsters Alfred McDanieland Greg Cottonbest days may be ahead of them, … more specifically 2010 and for different reasons.

"Daniel's not to be counted on physically for the balance of the year," states Shields, when referring to the slot backs season-ending injury. "Greg Cotton is emerging … he moved over from defense about three weeks ago. He's one of the faster guys on our team and he kind of gets it. He's a football player and hopefully we can get him in there with some reps and get him ready for next year.

George Fletcher is going to get a look on the defensive side and he's pretty excited about that."


Probably the most concern coming into the season was the inexperience of the offensive line, and with three games remaining, the unit has displayed some recent success, but remain a work in progress.

"The anchor of the group is Zach Peterson our center," declares Shields. "He's had exceptional year for his first year being out there. He had his hand full last week with Ben Garland of Air Force … he's arguing the best nose guard in the country and that was the best defense we faced all season, without question.

Seth Reedhas played well for his first time around the block, Jason Johnsonhas played well and Anees (Merzi) has made the transition to tackle. Kyle Bates, I know he's a firstee, but he's the guy that has really come on and played well for us."


" Frank Allen is going to be an excellent offensive lineman for us, just playing behind some seniors right now."

"Greg Cottonis going to be a guy at "A" back, maybe sooner than later. He's the fastest guy with the exception of Alfred (McDaniel)."

"Jared Hassin … I kind of forget about him being one of the younger guys," laughs Coach Shields, when discussing the Air Force transfer, who will be major factor in Army's offense next season at fullback. "We are really excited about him, he's going to be a weapon and great player here."

"Davyd Brooksis progressing and we think he has the talent to make plays for us. He was banged up a little, but he can be a good player for us."

When it comes to Steelman's backup against VMI, and should the opportunity present itself to see the number two step onto the field, the decision will be determined based on the situation.

Both Max Jenkinsand Carson Williamsare both right there and they both know exactly what we are doing inside and out. Also in the mix is Jimmy Reiterwho has seen most of his season activity on the JV squad.

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