1977 - Black Knights
RB King stomped for 961 yards, Hall continued to throw well in finishing
his West Point career and Army broke through with both a winning 7-4 slate
and close 17-14 victory over Navy. For the Navy game, a small but noticeable
change in the headgear brought approving nods of the head as the Cadets
replaced the traditional gray masks with black ones that really stood out.
TE Clennie Brundidge was joined up front by OT Joe Oliver who was named All
East. DE Chuck Schott again was the defensive bell cow with eighty-nine
stops and five fumble recoveries. The emergence of LB's John Hilliard and
Kirk Thomas who combined for 236 tackles resulted in three games where the
Knights gave up a TD or less.
1978 would be Smith's final season. LB John Hilliard was clearly the best
of an undependable defense that was weakened when MG George Mayes went out
with knee problems. QB Earle Mulrane put up 1400 passing yards and Jim Hill
repeated as the Cadet's most reliable runner but they could not put up
enough points when needed and 4-6-1 was the result, a step backwards after
the promising improvement of 1977. The 28-0 loss to Navy, Smith's fourth in
five years, sealed the deal and he was dismissed. Smith moved on to serve as
offensive coordinator at a number of major programs such as Alabama and
Arizona and in the NFL and to this day, has retained his reputation as an
offensive innovator and developer of quarterbacking talent.
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