Capitals

Seeking consistency, Army meets Eastern Michigan

Seeking consistency, Army meets Eastern Michigan

Army coach Rich Ellerson is still searching for answers for his struggling team, and finding them on the road won't be so easy with some key players ailing.

Army (1-5) travels to meet Mid-American Conference foe Eastern Michigan (0-6) on Saturday, and senior linebacker and captain Nate Combs won't play. Combs, who leads Army in sacks and forced fumbles, suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of a 31-17 loss to Kent State last Saturday at Michie Stadium and bruising fullback Larry Dixon has a sore hamstring.

``They're looking at that tape (against Kent State) and thinking they have a great chance this week,'' Ellerson said. ``I would think they are looking at our defense and what we've been doing and are licking their chops a little bit. We've won the last couple of times we've been out there, but they've been hard-fought games that have come down to the final possession.''

Although the Eagles are winless, they have to be encouraged after last week's performance in a 52-47 setback to Toledo. Their 624 yards of total offense was the most in four seasons under coach Ron English.

The Black Knights have been victimized by some big runs this season - Boston College's Andre Williams ripped off a 99-yard scoring run in a 34-31 loss to Army at Michie Stadium two weeks ago - and the Eagles have a sophomore tailback who repeatedly shocked Toledo.

In his first career start, Bronson Hill rushed for 283 yards on 28 carries and matched the school record with four touchdown runs. That's the best single-game rushing performance in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year and was just 8 yards off Larry Radcliff's school record, set in 1971 against Eastern Kentucky.

What's even more eye-opening is that three of Hill's touchdowns came during a chaotic third quarter as he busted runs of 47 yards, 58 yards, and 70 yards in a 3-minute span.

That's reminiscent of what Kent State's Dri Archer did to Army last week. Archer rushed for 222 yards, including an explosive 87-yard run late, and also threw a touchdown pass.

``Son of a gun, he's another guy like we saw last week who can finish a run,'' Ellerson said of Hill. ``Unlike last week, he's 210 pounds and not a little guy. If he hits a crease and gets downhill, you're going to pay heck getting him on the ground.''

A week after a comeback victory over Boston College achieved in the final minute of play, the Black Knights failed to carry any momentum into the game against Kent State. Tailback Raymond Maples was held to a season-low 80 yards and Army's triple option was held to more than 70 yards below its season average.

Still, Maples ranks 10th in the nation with 125 rushing yards per game and the Black Knights still are the top running team at 385 yards per game. That's more than enough to worry the Eagles.

``Defensively, we've struggled with consistency,'' English said. ``We'll play a lot of good snaps in a game, then play some bad snaps. The issue now is that playing this Army team, there are going to be some one-on-ones where guys have to make one-on-one tackles.''

Army's defense is allowing nearly 450 yards of total offense and more than 36 points per game. Eastern Michigan is averaging just over 20 points and less than 325 yards of total offense per contest.

Senior tight end Garrett Hoskins, who caught seven passes for 103 yards against Toledo, paces the EMU receiving corps with 23 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

Reverting to the form that beat BC is what the Black Knights are striving for.

``What's driving us all crazy here is not the track part of it, or the physical maturity, it's those things that should be fundamental to our style of play that aren't being executed routinely in a competitive environment,'' Ellerson said. ``Yeah, we're young, but I'm sick of saying that.

``We have to get better and get better now.''

Quick Links

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards’ First Round draft pick, Troy Brown is a Vegas Golden Knights fan

brown_vegas_golden_knights.png
Twitter/@MikeGrimala

Wizards’ First Round draft pick, Troy Brown is a Vegas Golden Knights fan

Uh, oh it may get awkward in Capital One Arena.

The newest draft pick for the Washington Wizards, Troy Brown is a Vegas Golden Knights fan.

Brown, who went to high school in Las Vegas, Nevada, wore a Golden Knights’ jersey on draft night.

The 18-year-old must not have known he was going to Washington, the home of the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. He would have known better, right? Either way, we can't hold it against him because again he's from Vegas.

It’s a good thing it only took the Capitals five games to win the Cup, otherwise, that might make it a little tense. At least he wasn’t wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey right?

Ted Leonsis will get him rocking the red in no time.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE: