Army West Point opened another fall camp seeking a leader to provide some balance to its triple-option offense. In other words, the Black Knights are again unsettled at quarterback.
And it’s no coincidence Army is trying to snap streaks of five years without a winning season or bowl trip – not to mention 13 straight losses in the Army-Navy Game.
This year it’s a three-way quarterback battle between senior A.J. Schurr, junior Matthew Kaufmann and sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw. Kelvin White, a former quarterback turned tight end, would seem to have a good view of how the competition is progressing.
“I was expecting this,” he said with a deep breath. “I think they all bring something different to the table. They all have strengths and weaknesses and they’re pushing each other to work on their weaknesses. It’s a healthy competition.
“They have to come to work every day; if one doesn’t show up the next one steps up. That helps all three of them get better. I feel confident we can win football games with all three of them.”
Although White has the perspective of a former quarterback, he doesn’t necessarily have a better view. That’s only because his focus has been on his own role as he prepares for his final college season.
Second-year Army head coach Jeff Monken and offensive coordinator Brent Davis brought a different version of the triple-option with them from Georgia Southern that uses a tight end. Monken began the switch at spring ball before White’s junior season.
“Last year was just trying to get a grasp on the overall change of positions,” White said. “This year summer and spring I’ve been able to work on being a more detailed football player. I’ve worked on footwork and doing the little things correctly that will make me a better player.”
His overall athletic ability allowed for a fast start in last year’s season-opening 47-39 win over Buffalo; he caught three passes for 15 yards. But it turned out to be one of only two times the Black Knights threw for more than 100 yards in a game.
White finished the season with only six catches for 72 yards and no touchdowns. For the season, Army averaged 358.8 total yards but only 62.4 yards passing; it totaled only three passing touchdowns and two interceptions.
By contrast, Air Force, which won the 2014 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with a sweep of Navy and Army, threw for 15 touchdown passes with 145.6 yards passing and 418.7 total yards. Navy, which had a down year throwing the ball, totaled nine touchdown passes, 81.4 yards passing and 419.5 total yards.
Army needs to improve on its numbers, beginning with the season opener against Fordham on Sept. 4 at Michie Stadium. In addition to catching the ball, White wouldn’t mind contributing with a few trick plays. He completed one such pass last year, connecting on a 17-yarder on an end-around option.
“I can still chuck it,” he said. “I tell (Monken and Davis) as much as I can. But overall I’m just excited to show the hard work we’ve put in as a team. We all love this game. We all want to showcase our abilities.”
White’s primary role in a triple-option includes plenty of blocking, and he has added more heft as a blocker. The 6-foot-3 senior from Enola (Pa.) East Pennsboro weighed 215 as a sophomore backup quarterback, 245 as a junior starting tight end and checked in for fall camp this year at 258.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger, but I haven’t lost a step,” White said. “I’ve been able to carry the weight better than last year. It hasn’t slowed me down.”
White also mentions helping the team win whether he catches more passes or blocks all 80 plays of game. That attitude, of course, is part of being a West Point cadet.
“Whatever is necessary,” White said. “I’d love to catch the ball more, but I’ll do whatever we need to do to win the game.”
*Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand