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June 18, 2011Despite playing quarterback at Cal-Poly, Andy Guyader has to be one of most unlikely candidates to be a football coach.
This is his third season as receivers coach at Army, after being on Rich Ellerson's staff five years at his alma mater.
But really. After earning a degree in architectural engineering in 1997, Guyader went on to study earthquake engineering and structural dynamics at the California Institute of Technology.
Eventually he received a Masters in Civil Engineering, then a Ph. D. in Civil Engineering.
And then, while coaching at Poly, he wound up lecturing more than 40 sections of 10 different courses in both architectural engineering and computer sciences. And that doesn't include taking workshops at the school's Center for Teaching and Learning, where he then applied multiple learning-based teaching techniques.
Instead, these days he is helping Black Knights run multiple pass routes, improve their blocking techniques and grabbing their attention in team meetings.
So why isn't he back home in California researching fault lines and preparing hometown folks for impending earthquakes in San Diego? "I really love the game of football, both the mental and physical component, which obviously is different than the classroom,'' he says. "It's a development tool for the young people. Football is such a character-building experience.''
His teaching background helps with communication, "How to approach their ability to learn both in the meeting room and on the field, ''he says. "The experience in the classroom is invaluable in terms of understanding how that's done. "I really haven't gotten a chance to get into the classroom at West Point,'' he said. "I just enjoy the academic environment quite a bit.''
He would like to enjoy the pass receiving aspect a little more, and he believes this year he will.
Army, certainly not a passing offense, was dead last in the country in 2010 with an average of 78.08 yards per game.
However, when it came to efficiency it was much more impressive. Army led the country in fewest interceptions with 3. With a completion percentage of 52.17, it had a higher passing efficiency rating (71st) than the likes of Florida, Texas, Penn State, Cal, LSU, Miami, UCLA and BYU.
Asked if this year's offense might pass more than usual, Guyader says, "Ideally there would be a few more passes, but I think ideally what's more important is having a few more completions, more positive plays - be it a quarterback run or a completed pass. If we execute that way I definitely know they'll be more pass plays.''
Most will presumably be targeted to seniors Davyd Brooks (6-foot-4) and Austin Barr (6-foot-3).
Barr had three touchdowns last season, and caught 14 passes for an average of 16.5 yards. Brooks caught 15, averaged 18.3 and had one TD.
Coming off impressive springs are 5-10 junior Justin Allen and 6-2 sophomore Anthony Stephens.
The new kids in town include prep grads Chevaughn Lawrence, 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-2 Michael Hudson, both who already have the physical tools and showed tremendous upside at the USMAPS in 2010.
Also coming in are direct admits, Justin Newman and Lawrence Scott who are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-0 respectively.
"Hopefully the young guys will come in and push (the veterans) to become better in practice,'' Guyader said. ""But whenever you're working with young guys it's wait-and-see. But sometimes with the right guy in the right situation it works out.
"I think you'll see our receivers this year being on a team with a winning record, again, and who will give 100 percent on every single play.
Competition will always be open, and that will be the way we squeeze this group to its fullest potential. I think the guys are prepared and ready to make plays.
"We're trying to get them to continue to compete in all different aspects of the game: the catching; running; blocking; everything. As a former quarterback I certainly have an appreciation of a successful pass play.''
With Trent Steelman back for his third straight year at quarterback, the passing game could be more of a factor in this team's offense, which, regardless, should be pretty potent.
"It's gonna be fun to see the sophomores and juniors,'' Guyader said. "It will be interesting to see how they respond. I've seen them to some outstanding things. I think they can be a group that controls the game consistently.''
Being around Ellerson now for so many years, Guyader has a feel for the head coach as well as anyone at West Point.
So he knows why Ellerson has been so successful and has Army on the brink of having a consistently competitive program. "For as long as I've been with him, he believes in not how long you work but how well you work and how focused you are. And that's the way games are, Guyader says. "They go four quarters and have a pretty definitive time limit. So you better get your work done in those four quarters. That's how he models it day to day.''
Guyader, 37, was asked if he had anything else to share with GBK. His answer was directed to Black Knight fans.
"Come out and support us,'' he said. "It's going to be a fun experience over the next couple of years. It should be entertaining.''
For Guyader, that means both on the field and in the meeting room.
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