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Army 'beat up pretty good' heading into Tulane

Army football coach Jeff Monken, on the sidelines in 2016.

JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: September 21, 2017

WEST POINT (Tribune News Service) — Jeff Monken said his team had the right attitude against mighty Ohio State on Saturday. Army was prepared and expected to win in Columbus. The Black Knights played with great effort and energy, Monken said.

There was a price to pay for the effort and energy, however. The aftermath of Army's 38-7 loss was the one that Monken and his staff had hoped to avoid. Army became a common victim of lesser programs facing the nation's elite teams. The Black Knights head to Tulane on Saturday with some key injuries.

"We got beat up pretty good by an outstanding football team," Monken said with his opening remarks of his weekly press conference. "That's about as frank as I can put it."

"We are frankly really banged up from Saturday. We have several guys that were in the starting lineup Saturday that I'm not sure are even going to make the trip this Saturday."

Senior safety Rhyan England, junior left tackle Rick Kurz and junior tight end Zach Saum, the top players at their respective positions, left the Ohio State game with injuries.

"Hopefully we can get some of those guys healthy and at least have them to travel in an emergency," Monken said. "We are going to rep some unfamiliar faces this week in some even unfamiliar spots for them. It will be interesting."

England, a four-year starter and the captain of the secondary, was carted off the field with a knee injury in the third quarter and didn't return. Kurz (shoulder) and Saum (undisclosed injury) returned to the game. Monken said England's injury doesn't appear to be season-ending.

"He was moving much better yesterday when I saw him," Monken of his four-year starter. "I don't rule him out (for Tulane). It may be something that we can put a brace on. They may be able to get swelling down. You never know."

Monken added, "If I were a betting man, I would say it's probably going to be another week before we can play him at the best. If we played him on Saturday, I would be shocked. You never know."

Still, the news was encouraging for a secondary that has been hit hard by injuries, tragedy and academics. Junior cornerback Jalen Sharp tore his anterior cruciate ligament in practice last Wednesday and is lost for the season. Cornerback Brandon Jackson died in a car accident last Sept. 11. Cornerback Marcus Hyatt was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder earlier this year and is on a medical leave of absence from the academy. An academic issue has kept cornerback Elijah Riley, a 11-game starter last season, off the field for Army's first three games.

The circumstances have caused Army to move a few players from offense to defense in practice this week. Monken said junior safety Max Regan, who has seen limited action on defense but is one of Army's better special teams players, would start for England if he can't play.

"Jay (Bateman, Army's defensive coordinator) brought it to my attention today," Monken said. "If you look at our first game last year against Temple when we won on the road, and you look at our guys that we'll travel to New Orleans with just a year and a few games later, it's entirely different -- all the guys that have been injured or we lost to graduation or otherwise lost. It's a different group of guys and we have to get them trained up and ready."

sinterdonato@th-record.com

©2017 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
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