Keys for Army defense/ special teams: No. 3-5

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

With Army preseason camp underway ArmSports.com will look at the keys for success for Army's defensive unit and special teams. Today we'll look at keys No. 3 and 5.

3) Richard King at cornerback.

In the Double Eagle Flex defense the most demanding position in the secondary is the cornerback. This defense often employs a cover one scheme in which the cornerback is in man coverage with no safety help.

In the spring junior Richard King, who missed last year after suffering a concussion, emerged as the starter. King had won the starting job in 2009 until a preseason concussion forced him to miss the entire year. King has excellent speed and quick feet but showed some rusty footwork at times this spring. In 2008 as a backup King demonstrated a knack for making plays with an interception and a sack. He is more talented than Mario Hill, the player he is replacing from last year. The biggest concern about King is that as a boundary cornerback in the flex he is typically responsible for jamming at the line of scrimmage and funneling the receiver to the free safety. Hopefully King can avoid another concussion and stay healthy.

4) Consistency in the kicking game.

One can make the case that Army's often shaky performance on special teams cost them a winning season and an appearance in the Eagle Bank bowl. Army needs to improve all areas of the kicking, coverage and return teams if it is to avoid some of the costly mistakes that plagued the team last year. Coach Rich Ellerson doesn't usually focus his attention on special teams until they return for camp in the summer. There are reasons to be concerned.

After he won the placekicking job junior Alex Carlton seemed to be resilient if not always clutch as he converted 18 of 24 attempts. Carlton experienced a bit of a personal meltdown against Navy when he hit only one of three attempts in last season's finale. Carlton crisis of confidence extended to the spring as he continued to struggle.

Coach Ellerson declared the competition open and that senior Matt Campbell will get a chance to compete. Campbell had won the placekicking job last year but lost it with an awful performance in the opener against Eastern Michigan missing two of three extra points. In 2008 Campbell hit all fifteen of his extra point attempts and eight of twelve field goal attempts. Campbell doesn't possess a big leg. He hit seven of eight attempts inside the forty-yard-line but only one of four attempts outside the forty.

Freshman Billy Fisher who might have the strongest leg and sophomore Eric Osteen who hit his only field goal attempt from 27 yards out in the Black & Gold game are also in the mix. Whoever wins the job the fact remains that Army needs a reliable field goal kicker to emerge from preseason camp. On the punting side senior Jonathan Bulls will not turn into the second coming of Ray Guy this year. Army just really needs him to avoid the costly mental mistakes like when he made two poor decisions to run the ball last year.

5) The Defense needs to stay healthy.

Co-defensive coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland did an outstanding job implementing Rich Ellerson's famed Double Eagle flex defense last season. This year's team seemed poised to once again field an exciting and productive defense. However they have to remain healthy since there is a lack of size at defensive tackle, depth at all linebacker positions and cornerback. It didn't help that Army's top three incoming defensive line recruits this year quit only a month before R-day.

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