2012 Army Report Card: Defensive Ends

Zach Watts (AP Photo/Mike Fuentes)

ArmySports.com continues its review of the 2-10 2012 Army Black Knight's season, position-by-position. Today we review the cadet defensive ends of 2012.

Defensive Ends: F
Senior Zach Watts was the returning starter at quick end. He started eleven of twelve games. Watts posted 45 tackles, 2 ½ for a loss and two quarterback hurries. Watts was one of the better defensive players on the team but played out of position at quick end the last two years. He was too small to be an effective quick end. Zach competed every down but he weighed just 203 pounds and at times was engulfed attempting to stop the run. Watts entered the fall with four career sacks but surprisingly was shutout his senior season. He seemed to have been a bit limited for a number of games by an injured ankle that caused him to miss the Wake Forest game. He looked to have his first step quickness back late in the year against Navy after the long layoff. Quick end is the big play position in the Double Eagle flex so when that position produced no sacks you have an idea why this defense struggled.

Junior Holt Zalneraitis was a huge disappointment at the Whip defensive end position. Last spring he was moved from defensive tackle to the Whip spot. After he had a great Armor/Infantry spring game, producing four tackles and 1 1/ 2 sacks, I thought he would thrive in the new role. Instead he was a non-factor. Zalneraitis played in seven games and started four. He missed five games with a hip injury. He made just 12 tackles all year, had 1/2 a sack and one quarterback hurry. Holt is very smart in the classroom but he lacks instincts on the field and often plays tentatively. He was burned a number of times failing to maintain his containment responsibilities. Direct admit sophomore James Kelly ended the year as the starter at Whip defense end. Kelly appeared in eleven games and started three. He made 14 tackles, 1 ½ tackles for loss for the season and forced a fumble against Navy. Kelly is mobile but needs to fill out his rather lean frame in the weight room.

Senior legacy captain Jarrett Mackey was one of the biggest disappointments this season but it wasn't his fault. Mackey started the 2011 opener at quick end but suffered a severe season ending knee injury. Mackey had played well as a three technique tackle in 2010 during his sophomore season. He finished the 2010 season with 47 tackles, 6 1/2 for a loss, four sacks and forced two fumbles. Before his injury Mackey was quick and rangy with good lateral mobility. As this past summer camp wore on it was obvious that Mackey wasn't going to be ready for the season opener. He started against Wake Forest but struggled getting up the field. Jarrett appeared in seven games and started three games including two at bandit linebacker when Combs was hurt. Mackey posted 21 tackles including 1 ½ for a loss. While he had 13 tackles in a game against Ball State it was obvious he was not the same player before he suffered the knee injury. Mackey couldn't run at all and often seemed like he was dragging his leg around. The staff is hopeful Mackey, who will likely play as a fifth year senior, experiences the rejuvenation Nate Combs did this fall in his second year back from major knee surgery.

Sophomore defensive end Colin Linkul is a situational pass rusher who can come off the edge and create some pressure. Linkul isn't big enough for every down duty. He appeared in eleven games and posted 1 ½ sacks as a pass rush specialist. Direct admit sophomore Derek Sanchez played in five games early in the year but made no plays and was dropped off the depth chart. He didn't play in the last half of the season. He needs to spend time in the weight room and get stronger to become a factor.

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