| Finally, the United States, the mother nation of American football, takes part in the World Championship. It will be the first time ever for Team USA to compete in an international tournament.
Team USA is organized with the 2006 senior players and more than 20 of the final 45-man national team members are from NCAA Division I-A or FCS.
``I’m very pleased how the players have learned (in a short period after the team organized),’’ head coach John Mackovic said after the first week of the U.S. training camp held in San Jose, California, late June. ``Hopefully, our team has the size and physical strength because generally we’re larger than other countries. We also have very good quality coaches so we hope that our coaches’ skills of teaching can be brought to our players.’’
Mackovic has the decent coaching experience in the top level of football. He was the head coach for Wake Forest, Illinois, Texas and Arizona. He also served as the head coach for the Kansas City Chief of the NFL in 1983-86. The Chiefs marked a 30-34 record under his tenure and advanced to the playoffs in his last season.
The offense is led by quarterback Jeff Ballard of Texas Christian University. Ballard guided the TCU to a 19-2 record as the starter and his winning percent (90.5%) is a school record for the starting quarterback. He completed 190 passes of 307 attempts for 2,394 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He added 533 yards and eight touchdowns on 110 carries on the ground.
Ballard said one of the big challenges for the Team USA is how they overcome a six-month layout after their final season ended last January. Many players of the U.S. team have been out of football since the 2006 season concluded. But Ballard is confident that the team got better through a two-week training camp.
Ballard’s main targets should be wide receiver Steve Odom (Toledo, 216 receptions for 2,631 yards and 19 TDs in four-year career) and tight end/fullback Brian Thompson (Michigan, 19 for 123 yards and 2 TDs), both of whom played in the NCAA top divisions.
Team USA will also show the powerful running game led by massive offensive linemen (average 192.9 cm, 133.7 kg) and running back Taylor Craig of Yale.
On the defense, the U.S. deploys an aggressive style. Defensive end Shawn Moorehead started for Iowa State last season and recorded 8.5 sacks. He is the all-time sack leader of ISU with 19 career sacks. All-Ivy linebacker Ryan Tully (Harvard) is good at pass defense.
Cornerback Manauris Arias of Maine brings his ball-hawking ability (five career interceptions) to the ground while free safety Carry Wade of Virginia Tech stabilizes the defensive backfield as a center player.
The U.S. makes its World Championship debut against Korea on Tuesday, July 10 before playing Germany on Thursday, July 12 in the Pool 2.