No official word on Army’s starting quarterback but sophomore Jemel Jones could be making his first start. Army’s offense didn’t miss a beat when Jones replaced injured starter Christian Anderson in the first quarter last week against Abilene Christian. It wasn’t the first time that Jones came off the bench with a game still in question.
Jeff Monken believes Jones experience in the Hawaii game last season helped his growth as a quarterback. Pressure into action in the fourth quarter, Jones led Army down near the goal line before throwing an end-zone interception that was returned for a touchdown by Hawaii.
“It’s great to see a guy like that mature and grow up in the program and just develop as a player,” Monken said. “That (the interception) can really hurt a young quarterback’s confidence but he’s just a great kid and a hard worker and I think that may have been good for him just to have that experience and he disappointed and persevere and come back out of that.”
“He didn’t flinch at all (against Abilene Christian), no hesitation. Our guys were excited about having him in the huddle. I thought he had probably as good of a performance as we could expect for a guy coming off the bench.”
Another player stepping up is wide receiver Mike Roberts. Roberts has caught five passes in the last two games including his first career touchdown against Abilene Christian. The junior is one of Army’s most physical receivers at 235 pounds and he’s now getting to showcase his pass-catching skills with the absence of Cam Harrison and injury to freshman Isaiah Alston.
“Mike has worked really hard,” Monken said. “He’s a guy that just takes pride in his job. Mike does not care if he gets the ball. That’s not why he plays the game. It’s not why he enjoys the game. He wants to help our team win.
“That kid looks for ways to help our team. He plays on special teams.”
Don’t have to look far for the connections between the Army and The Citadel coaching staff.
Army offensive coordinator Brent Davis was a member of the 1992 The Citadel team that defeated Army 15-14 at Michie Stadium. The Citadel was 11-2 in 1992.
The Citadel cornerbacks coach Orlando Mitjans Jr. coached the same position at Army in Monken’s first two seasons (2014-2015). Tom Simi, The Citadel’s offensive line coach, was an Army assistant in 2013 and the head coach at Army Prep from 2009-2012.
Tony Grantham, The Citadel’s defensive coordinator, was on the same Navy staff as Monken from 2003-06.
Gaylord Greene, a former Army wide receiver in 1990s and member of Monken’s support staff, is the vice president of athletic development at The Citadel.
Army and The Citadel have shared strategies the last three springs.
“Our offensive staff has spent a lot of time with their offensive staff just talking option football,” Monken said. “We spilled the beans and they have to. I think that’s the nature of our offense. There’s not a whole lot of secrets but there’s an advantage gained and we are very fond of them.”