Army 2-2

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Army left points on the field. The lack of a kicking game was pretty glaring in this one. 4th down from the 19 yard line seems to be a place where a winning football team should kick for some points. I love to see the foot on the gas pedal, but especially playing from behind in a winnable game - you have to find a way to move the score up. After the final whistle it was a 4 point rivalry game win for the Green Wave, so one three pointer doesn't quite get you there - and the coaching staff knows that, maybe it points to their lack of trust in their kicker (maybe it's their goal to never kick in the red zone). Army operates their offense with the 4th down in play on most drives, but in the sense of maximizing opportunity a reliable field goal unit can take the guesswork out of some of these 4th down decisions. You can't really second guess the call to go for it instead of kicking the points, but it seems like there need to be ways to get points other than extending every other drive to 70 yards and a touchdown.

Without Darnell Woolfolk in New Orleans, Army leaned on a steady diet of Andy Davidson, and the inside run looked like the difference maker by midway through the fourth quarter. I'll have to watch the tape again to see what was going on in the first half, but you know what you're getting when Andy Davidson gets the ball. It would have been nice to see him break the plane of the goal line on his 42 yard run.

Key moments for Army defense: Final drive - 3rd and 10 - QB Banks got loose and made a play with his feet for 15 yards moving the chains. That's a huge spot where the defense covered well and busted the play open only to lose contain and have Banks scamper for the first down. Tulane converted three 4th downs in their final drive, each one with more nerve than the last. The last 4th down - I would love to see another timeout there. Even if it's your last timeout- if Tulane scores there - what is Army going to do there down 4 points with one timeout? Best case scenario pre-snap you make them rethink their plan again and kick the field goal. Worst case scenario- after one timeout scraps TU's use of their best short yardage play - you get a look at their second best 4th down play. I mean, if you burn one to see one, why not burn two to see two?

The defense was called on to bend, but not break today, and outside of their very first play and their very last play they pretty much held up their end of the deal. They got pressure all day - Tulane QB Jonathan Banks never really looked comfortable when he intended to throw. Would have been nice to see the D generate a turnover here or there, but hey you can't have everything. What else can Army's D do to start games stronger? What more can they do to end games stronger? I really don't know, but those plays that made up the bookends of this game for Army's defense ended up being the difference.

Crucial turnover: The Bradshaw interception inside the 12 turned out to be killer. For all of the people who want to see Army air it out more - there is your pass game. Now please stop with the sick desire to see the forward pass. The only points Army's passing game is putting up this season are points like these

After QB Jonathan Banks had his mouthpiece removed from his esophagus and his head reattached to his shoulders, he came back on the field to finish Tulane's game winning 75 yard drive with a QB keeper around the right end. Give Tulane credit, they got the job done on the final drive. This rivalry is one of my favorites as I like Tulane, and there have been hard fought and close games in recent memory. The last two results in this series will leave me hating on Tulane a more than regularly would, but this one is a game I look forward to each year. Next season Tulane comes north to continue the rivalry, then there's one more in Louisiana in 2019 before the series takes a break for a while. This is where I don't get starting up a home and home series vs. Liberty and Coastal Carolina. The first calls from West Point regarding football scheduling should be to Tulane and then Denton TX - trying to nail those down early so the team can work a bye week in after those road trips. Then the coaches could take a few days to make recruiting visits around the south without getting the team off of their routine preparations. I won't complain too much about Coastal, since I have family at Myrtle Beach and I'll jump at the chance to get down there for those games. As it is, the best way to get rid of the sour taste of this loss is to renew the Tulane rivalry long-term.

Here's the Army/Tulane story, stats, and highlights.


Army Tulane Stream

You can find it at the radio tab above.


Clearing Some Tabs

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In his blog, Sal also talks about some things that exemplify the positive changes in Army's football culture, citing Army's never quit attitude late in the Ohio State game. One of the things I notice is the size of the athletes. Rich Ellerson's guys were pretty small with notable exceptions. The Army players today all look like they belong on the field. Right away you can look at more competitive recruiting and a good strength and fitness routine and some academy's move to  institutional. I didn't realize it when it was announced, but Army is now operating their athletic department funding as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit. As it was, academy money went to fund all athletics which, since the school is a funded federal academy, meant the football team was operating on federal funds

With Jeff Monken's contract figures withheld to this point we can assume the salary is now allocated from the West Point Athletic Association fund. Back 2013 in Mike at the Birddog gave his own assessment of why Army lagged behind on the gridiron. With the formation of Army's nonprofit entity for the athletic department Army can finally get competitive financially, which in the sense of hiring coaches and staff, should make a positive difference in terms of wins and losses. If anything, a move to the more flexible financial model will bring better chances at stability at the coaching spot.  Better money should equal better coaching, better coaching coupled with what the lighter scheduling that we've seen produces a winning culture. With wins come a chance at stability at the head coaching spot. The Birddog blog did a good job there at gauging the disparity between the tools that Navy uses and the way Army used to operate its athletic department. Take a look for yourself and make a check list of the things West Point has done to change the direction of Army football.

None of that is to overshadow what a great job Jeff Monken has done to improve the program. We're on the topic of wholesale upgrades to the program, and it's clear that Jeff Monken as head coach is the upgrade that's been needed. Hopefully it's a long term situation. Army is lucky to have Coach Monken and I can only hope the contract will continue Army's improvement for the long term.

What really had me holding my breath - Rhyan England's status is a little bit more clear. Sal has the word on England's knee. It's no sigh of relief, but I expected the absolute worst when I saw Rhyan go down. Adding to England's injury Sal looked at some other injuries incurred in Columbus. As is

Here's to a complete recovery for all and hopefully some good fortune in terms of getting back on the field again.

Danny Wild has some great pictures of Army's game at Ohio State. There are some impressive closeup shots of pregame and action from the game - it's the kind of up close and personal shots you don't really see anywhere else. Par for the course for Danny - go ahead over there and check out all of his stuff, he's got great pictures on many subjects beyond Army football.


Army Tulane Game Notes

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Army Tulane game notes are here (.pdf)

Tulane has theirs up here (.pdf)


Army 2-1

Monday, September 18, 2017

We came in knowing that Ohio State would be a tough test for Army. I was really hoping that both teams would be tested in this one, but Ohio State really put the screws to Army. OSU opened the game with two perfect touchdown drives where they didn't even get to 3rd down on either drive. Then, after the half, the Buckeyes had two back breaking drives of 2 plays (74 yards) and 4 plays (64 yards) that put the game out of reach.

Personally, I love Andy Davidson's mentality... he rips off a 35 yard run and he's still pissed off he didn't run it out of the stadium. I didn't love his missed assignments though. Obviously #40 can be a playmaker, but I caught more than a couple of times where his missed block ended up breaking the play instead of making the play. Granted when your opponent is Ohio State it's not easy to read the play out at speed - let alone put a block on your man (especially when you haven't gotten a lot of game day reps). It's a strange conundrum. If a traditional passing QB gets into this kind of funk I would say bench him. Seeing the little bit that I've seen this year of Andy Davidson's attitude as a competitor, I think more That's not a knock on anyone else trying to crack the 2-deep, just saying that Davidson can be an asset with the football and I think he has the right attitude to make the right plays both with the ball and blocking out in front of the football. Against the Buckeyes he struck out when he was called on to block in space. And it definitely was not just Andy, there were plays where two men downfield completely missed their man - and those defenders then advanced to the edge to make the tackle. Davidson is a guy I want to see on the field for meaningful snaps, and until Saturday I was kind of scratching my head as to why he wasn't on the field more through the first two games. It seemed to me that #40 saw plenty of important snaps in Columbus and I'm glad he's finding his way back into the mix.

OSU is so big and fast. Ohio State did what they wanted to do in the early stages. Even when they punted they pinned Army in deep. For Army to score there and make it a game says a lot about the capability of the offense despite being seriously overmatched.
Ohio State tore Army's defense apart pretty much all game with the quick WR screen. Those spots where Ohio State got Army into a one on one situation quite often ended up being a broken tackle and a long OSU gain. Army did a decent job mixing up coverage in the first half and they were still outplayed. The whole game was an aggravating slow death of run pass option, inside zone run, WR screen and plays to the wing.

I really can't stand Greg Schiano or his defense. In my life I gave watched a fair enough amount of football each fall, why is it that I never seem to catch defenses lining up offsides on any sort of consistent basis. I only notice that happening consistently when Greg Schiano is coaching a defense. I get trying to get every conceivable advantage in every phase of the game - but it's called a 'neutral zone' for a reason. It's not a "Rutgers helmet zone". It's not an "Ohio State place your hand here zone". Neutral zone. Every game, on every play. With that said, I thought the refs were more than fair to Army. I had a problem with the illegal block below the waist call, but at that point it was 31-7 and the game was very much out of Army's control.

Here's the Ohio State/Army story, stats, highlights and replay.

Yearbook: Ohio State Makio

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

As one could expect, the Ohio State yearbook is a treasure trove of college football history.

The Makio details life on the campus of the Ohio State University. It is a vast digital collection of yearbooks dating all the back to 1880.

By and large the football game writeups are spotty. Within these pages, a lot of words are spent on Ohio State victory, but not much is made of its defeats. This same sort of revisionism is evident in the collection at large - leaving out the edition with perhaps the most interesting story for those of us who don't particularly like Ohio State.

I don't know why Ohio State University Archives doesn't include the 1979 edition. I do know they skipped the yearbooks of 1881 and 1893 as well, but other than these three years all other Makio yearbooks from 1880 until 2012 are included in the digitized collection. It could have something to do with the 1978 firing of disgraced Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, but I really don't know if there was any ulterior motive in leaving 1979 out of the public digital archive.

That type of press can be expected from the yearbook editors of such great football schools. Far greater universities, with far superior football teams have produced yearbook accounts that bask in their own glory at the cost of journalistic objectivity. That's what is fun about following the histories of college football through university yearbooks: you're being invited to experience the perspective of the fans themselves. The thing with OSU is that - since 1932 - its football has been great enough to foster this type of fandom - which subjects more than half of these yearbooks to eye-roll inducing levels of homerdom.

I went ahead and looked up an interesting game from yesteryear and it told the story, but in just one paragraph. The Ohio State/Pitt game from 1936 brought the Panthers to the Horseshoe for a mid October game in the mud. The yearbook begins the story:

Pitt came in knowing about the new threat to their west. At this point West Virginia and Penn State annually tested out as below the caliber of the Panthers, but the OSU program was taking off under their head coach Francis Schmidt. At this point Ohio Stadium hosted crowds upward of 70,000 spectators and were becoming a legitimate threat to the Panthers gridiron supremacy.

Pitt faced Ohio State in classic Columbus October weather and the game was played in a Horseshoe full of mud. Pitt, coached by Panther great Jock Sutherland ran a single-wing attack and only led for 5 minutes at the very end of the game. Ohio State's defense remained stout, but the Buckeyes only crossed midfield one time in the game. Pittsburgh's lone touchdown was a direct-snap sweep run by halfback Curly Stebbins, and Pitt squeaked out the victory 6 to 0. Pitt outgained OSU on the ground 251 yards to just 77, and doubled up Ohio State's number of first downs 11 to 5.
Pitt went on that year to win the Lambert trophy, the Rose Bowl and multiple selections as 1936 (pre-AP) national champions.
The 1936 Buckeyes were a young team and within 6 years the program would climb the mountain for the first of its 8 national titles. By 1942 Ohio State, surely aided by Pitt's de-emphasis of football, completely supplanted the Panthers as the premier team from the midwest/northeast. As 1942 was Ohio State's first title out of 8 - this year 1936 was Pitt's second to last of that golden era. The Panthers claimed  1937 title and didn't win another title for another 40 years.

Ohio State's past is full of great players, historic  games and legendary icons. In the Makio, you should be able to find most of the relevant history on these names and games.
If you crave non-football items from Ohio State you can check out items like the 1927 yearbook which details Ohio State's homecoming queen, which was an actual cow. Try the search feature; (I found it a bit clunky, and not too user friendly), you can explore the splendor of Ohio State's campus of check out the sights from around the great city of Columbus.


It is the mission of The Unbalanced Line Online Library to present important and interesting historical texts to college football fans. Items will be added regularly as blog postings and can be easily indexed in the Yearbooks button on the site bar.

Copyrighted material is used expressly under the fair use guidelines of U.S. Code 17 #107 through #118 stating that the criticism, comment, news reporting, educational use or research of copyrighted material is not held in violation of copyright laws.

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Game Notes Ohio State

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Army has their game notes up here (.pdf).

Here's what grabbed my attention from the first page.

The Black Knights have yet to give up points in the second half through two games and have outscored their opponents 44-0 following halftime.

Ohio State's game notes can be found here (.pdf).

(Ohio State coach Urban Meyer's) TEAMS RECOVER. QUICKLY.
Urban Meyer’s teams, covering 196 games, have regrouped, recovered and gotten backto winning quickly after a loss. His teams have lost consecutive games only four times in 15-plus seasons and he has had just one three-game losing streak. His last back-to-back losses: at the end of the 2013 season to Michigan State and Clemson.

That's a heck of a time to lose a pair of games. 


Army 2-0

Monday, September 11, 2017

Army persevered in the second half and put together one full half of winning football to defeat a game Buffalo Bulls squad. The only thing it could the game could have done more to reminded me of last year's game was to go to Overtime.

This was really Army's first full game, instead of playing 86 players Army needed their best available 22 down the stretch. It was likewise the first time Army found themselves in a serious hole this year.

This game was timely reminder that one little penalty can just derail the whole system. In the first quarter it was a 15 yarder on 1st down that put the Cadets behind schedule and then, soon after punting, behind on the scoreboard as well.

Army took a chance on their next possession, now down 7 to 10... 4th and 2....Army on the Buffalo 35 yard line. Well, the offbeat call would be to take a shot downfield, and offbeat is what they went for. Bradshaw's pass sailed long, missing a wide open receiver. I'm going to disagree with that call every single time. I get trying to scheme yourself into advantageous situations, but it's early in the 2nd quarter, Army is down 3 points and the offense had the chance to finally get into a groove with a bread and butter 2 yard run. I don't know what their internal calculus was on that call. On one hand, Buffalo had just stuffed two runs for a yard each in this set of downs - on the other hand Army averaged 6.66 yards per carry at that point. Whatever the outcome, TD or turnover, maybe a shot down the field right there was just enough to quiet down those who think Army needs to pass more.

Army threw 9 passes, three of those were for being behind schedule - 3rd and long or backed up due to penalties. Five of the passes were taking a shot on early downs, and one was the 4th and 2 heave through the uprights. The thing is, once Army got the passing out of their system they were able to run the ball and stay ahead of down/distance trouble - and play their way back into the game.

Buffalo played very well on defense. There were a couple of big plays for Army, but in terms of playing the option they did an exceptional job. Last year Army played their 4th game of the year at Buffalo, so realistically there was no chance to hold any of the playbook back from the Bulls this time around. Lance Leipold, for all the growing pains he's enduring coaching at the D1 level, played pretty solid X's and O's in this one. There were some mismanaged downs, the end of the half without throwing the deep ball one more time - that's how UB got all their points - off of the long bomb or a missed assignment. I think you at least have to chuck it up in that spot. The only downside I can imagine is Army getting pressure on the pass and hitting Jackson during that long wind-up and by throwing it there maybe Leipold saw a risk of letting up some cheap points there at the half.

You want to talk about great coaching? You need not look farther than Army OC Brent Davis. When Ahmad Bradshaw tore off that 52 yard scamper to set up Army's first points it was clear Army knew they needed to open the playbook up a little bit. At first I thought it was something out of Paul Pasqualoni's freeze option scheme, but I looked at it again and it was just a perfectly blocked QB counter sweep. That was the second time all year Army pulled an interior lineman and the first time they pulled linemen to block misdirection at the point of attack, and it was flawlessly executed. To be able to pull that level of orchestration out of your pocket this early in the season - for a one off play. It tells me they have some good stuff in store for upcoming opponents and I, for one, should worry less about Army showing pages out of their playbook.

Here are the Buffalo/Army story, stats and highlights.



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