Miner Rush: First off, condolences to the Army football family for the loss of Brandon Jackson, tell us about the immediate impact he made both on and off the field in his short but productive career?
Alex Funderburke: While Brandon was only a sophomore he was definitely one of the leaders on defense. He played in every game last year and started nine, he led the team with three interceptions. If Army needed a big play from the secondary 9 times out of 10 it was Brandon who made the play. Rest in peace Brandon Jackson, you will be missed dearly. #Forever28 #WinForBJack
MR: Army's biggest improvement seems to be defensively, what are the main parts of the improvement?
AF: Army’s improvement defensively has to do with experience, nine defensive starters returned from last year. Captains Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King have been two of our biggest play makers so far.
MR: Who should UTEP's defense be keying in on against Army's triple option attack that seems to have a ton of efficient moving parts?
AF: UTEP needs to find a way to stop Fullback Andy Davidson. He has rushed for 228 yards and 5 touchdowns so far. At the same time UTEP’s defense has to be very careful when defending the option, if they go all out to stop the fullback, QB Ahmad Bradshaw will pitch it out to a slotback for a big gain.
MR: Three Army players UTEP fans should know about?
AF: Watch out for Junior Linebacker #21 Alex Aukerman who has six tackles and two sacks so far. Also watch for Senior Wide Receiver #82 Edgar Poe (Yes, if you are wondering his middle name is Allen) when Army wants to pass it will go to Poe. Lastly watch QB #17 Ahmad Bradshaw, he has been under complete control of the offense leading them up the field for touchdown after touchdown.
MR: Is there any buzz of playing here in El Paso where Fort Bliss is located and expected to make an impact on attendance for this game?
AF: There is always buzz when Army plays a game near a military base. I know the team likes it because it makes them feel at home. My uncle will be in attendance, so hopefully Army can pull through for him.
MR: Army is off to the best start in almost 20-years, what are your general takeaways after two solid wins against two teams who have had recent success?
AF: This year’s Army team looks completely different from last year’s team. The offense hasn’t committed a turnover yet and the defense has forced five. The team has been playing more aggressive on all three phases of the game.
On my website(www.BlackKnightsBlog.Wordpress.com) I said Army would win 42-14. I said this about two months ago, seeing how both teams have been playing I will change it to 35-21 Army, I think Army’s depth and experience will be a big help. Army will win if they stop Aaron Jones, UTEP might be starting a backup QB and I think that will help Army as well.