About Time

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'm convinced this team is trying to kill me.

Nice to finally get that Yankee Stadium win, nice to get that monkey off the back and put the other foot out front for this team and the new coaches. I called for a statement win, and Army definitely won, but statement win?... I don't think so. If anything, it made a statement that Army is still having trouble closing out games. You can't even argue with that. Be honest, you saw UConn get down to the doorstep at the end and in your mind you knew Army lost the game. It's been the case in the 3rd and 4th quarter all year and, really, the way Army/UConn unfolded it shouldn't have been any different.

If you play any team on Army's schedule and give them the ball on the 6 with a minute left and the game on the line there isn't much hope for the win. It's that sort of scenario that has become all too familiar for the Black Knights and fans as Army has had games where they've been competitive through 3 quarters but for whatever reason fall back late in the game and end the game pretty far back in the rear view mirror.

My optimism when Army handled UConn for the better part of 4 quarters was like riding the crest of a wave. I knew Army owned UConn play after offensive play. Offensively they were in tune chip, chip, chipping away. UConn had poor pursuit to the edge, focused too many guys on trying to stop the inside run, and every single time the ball got pitched - Army had even numbers or better and were ripping off big time runs. It's one thing to commit 2 guys over the center, it's another to commit 5 players central and still get run on both inside and outside plays. Longtime UConn blog Ramblings from the Runway phrased it like this:

 In each of the games against East Carolina and Central Florida, the Huskies' two best efforts of the season, UConn's opponents ran six plays on either 3rd and 4 or shorter and seven of at least 10 yards to go on third down. However, against Army the Black Knights ran 10 plays between 3rd and 1 and 3rd and 4 (converting 10 times) and just one time did Army have to run a play on 3rd or 10 or longer.

That isn't to highlight ECU & UCF as potential playoff teams, it is just showing that stopping teams has more often than not been a weakness for Connecticut.

I thought Army played Air Force on ABC last year, and I'm pretty sure Army played on CBS in 2011, but this leftover from the Air Force game surprised me:

 Network television visited Michie Stadium on Nov. 1 when CBS broadcast the Army vs. Air Force contest. It marked the first time CBS broadcast a game from West point, N.Y. and the first time Army was on a network since Nov. 9, 1996, an ABC regional contest.

One other broadcast related item involves Army's former OC Ian Shields' new team Lenoir-Rhyne... I've been checking for highlights but haven't seen much out there til this week... looks like Shields is still operating a beastly T formation option game.

This video is by far the best video of Shields' schemes with Lenoir-Rhyne, and it looks like they're keeping the stuff pretty simple as the plays shown don't have the layers and layers of misdirection that we've gotten to know from Ian. Nice to see he's keeping it real: Lenoir-Rhyne is 10-0 and plays 6-4 Catawba this weekend for home field in the D-III playoffs.

OK, back to reality Army/Western Kentucky game notes are up (.pdf)

Don't miss Danny Wild's photos of Army at Yankee Stadium

the UConn/Army story, stats and highlights here and here.


Veterans' Day

Monday, November 10, 2014


New York Eve

Friday, November 7, 2014

UConn pays a visit to Yankee Stadium tomorrow and while I want to be pumped for the game it's hard to even think about Army football this week.

Sure, UConn - like Army - comes in with 2-6 record and a first year head coach. Likewise, similar to Army's 2-6 UConn's is a pretty *bad* 2-6.

What is there left? Well, it's time for Army to make a statement. Sure, they haven't done well in new Yankee Stadium - sure they've played themselves out of the CIC trophy and bowl hopes for this year - but there will come a time when Jeff Monken's squad will have to make a statement.

Say what you will about the revolving door and injuries at key spots on both sides of Army's football... there will come a time where the Army football team will have to stand up and grow some hair. For me that's this week. Yankee Stadium game - it's a chance for the Black Knights to exorcise the demons of that venue. You get a UConn team - who has been beatable every week this year - with a train trip or bus trip road game however you want to call it, riding the high of knocking off a decent UCF team last week. No secret how they pulled that off- it was by capitalizing on the same turnover bug that has set Army back for as long as I can remember. So forget about the post season or a CIC championship; forget about the seniors - they will have their day. Saturday is about the program making a statement.The first steps for Jeff Monken's Army team are taken on Yankee Stadium turf tomorrow at 3:30.

Army's got some pretty crispy swag for the NYC game:

The Army game notes (.pdf) are up.


Army 2-6

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rough way to go out against Air Force. Army played a strong first half defensively and it looked like they could keep it close solely on the mojo of the defense. I probably don't stand alone in saying it felt like it was a question of 'not if but when' Army's defense would falter. There have been lapses on defense in every game and while the defense was stout early - the close nature of the game magnified Air Force's big plays.

On the other side of the ball the complete ineffectiveness of Army's offense plowed under any hope to pull the game out in the second half and the blame sits firmly on the offense for not being able to move the football - even a little bit. 1 for 12 on 3rd down simply doesn't cut it. It was like Air Force started with 2 D linemen bracketing Angel Santiago upon every snap. I think it's amazing that Army had a chance to make it a game through the 3rd quarter, but defensively, Army came to play. Offensively, no they did not. 

It was just one of those growing games that you get with a first year coaching staff. 8 games in, I don't think anyone imagined Army would be sitting here with just two wins, and that's a lot of what stings about where the team is at right now. Phil Steele's prediction that Army would flirt with bowl eligibility is now in the ash heap of history - but don't let that bring you down. There are positives to be taken from every game and the young guys who have stepped in this year and filled in for injuries are the seeds planted for this program to grow.

Army is years away from where they need to be, but the way they will come around is with that familiar one game at a time ethos. Stick with them, they will get better, they will beat teams, they will win games, and it all starts this week against Connecticut.

Story stats and highlights


Air Force Outlook

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Army game notes (.pdf)

Game notes are up from Air Force too (.pdf)

This one will be on CBS and it's always nice to see Army on network TV. Even better in that Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson aren't doing play by play for this game. Tom McCarthy gets the nod to do play-by-play for this contest.

Army at 2-5 is pretty much playing a one game season on Saturday. Win or lose they will move on, but the only hope of salvaging this season comes this week with the CIC trophy in play and bowl eligibility all but evaporated with any loss.

It should be interesting to see Army's struggling pass defense against the diverse attack of Air Force. If there are issues wrapping up and if there are miscommunications on coverages it will be a long game.

No chance of me underestimating the opponent this week - I feel responsible for the last two losses.
In fact Air Force will probably force 18 turnovers and hang 223 points on the Cadets in their own stadium.

There we go, that should do it.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Don't really know what to say about this:
Report: West Point football team recruited high school athletes.

The worst of the allegations:

Booster money allocated for the evening was handed across the bar and alcohol came back. Cadets said they ordered "beer towers" containing quarts of the beverage and allowed recruits - high school athletes - to drink their fill.

Fourteen football recruits arrived at West Point on Jan. 24 and were feted with dinners and tours. They got a trip to the Palisades Mall, 27 miles down the Hudson River from the campus, where they were escorted by members of the football team designated as "cadet hosts" and two "Rabble Rouser" cheerleaders. No West Point officers went on the trip.

The ride home was raucous.
"The trip consisted of the (charter) bus driver allowing the music to play very loudly, dancing in the aisles, strobe lights flashing iPhones to reflect the club-like atmosphere"

If that makes any of you blush,I am DEFINITELY not going to tell you what I was doing last night.

I read it first on Deadspin, and it seemed like there was a little bit of sensationalism going on in that article. OK athletes visited campus on official visits, the school paid for the trips, making the visits of the "official" variety. Unless the visits were billed as unofficial visits there is nothing wrong with what West Point administration did.

I don't know if they expect prospects to bring their homework, come up and sit in study halls. Get out of here with that. Army dealt with the situation internally and self reported all the minor recruiting violation.... but "abhorrent"?  That is barely abhorrent to the most uptight teetotaler.

I think it's funny that it's a months old instance of a self reported infraction and it comes from the Colorado Springs fish wrap on the off week before Air Force plays Army. Talk about bringing up old stuff... wow. I can tell you I definitely do not want to empty out the Air Force Academy's closet because some of the stuff going on alongside of that program was absolutely disgusting. IDK, maybe it's just funny timing that it happens to get printed this week - months and months after Army's internal investigation and self reporting to the NCAA.

It's also funny that they tap noted wet blanket Maj. Dwight Mears (ret.) for his opinion.

I'm sure Maj. Mears was eager to pile on any charge against Army's football team. He's spent plenty of time writing negative things about football at West Point. Funny thing is you wouldn't know that from his official West Point biography - OF COURSE he wouldn't put a publication like that on his West Point profile. I don't understand why not, he obviously has opinions about his Alma mater and former employer. If it's fit to  publish in the news, I think he should have updated his profile to reflect what occupied his mind and his time.

Looking a bit further, there may be reasoning behind Maj. Mears' emotional responses against West Point football culture. When the school you attend for all of your postgraduate work is rung up for rampant academic fraud - you might be sensitive to things like athletic privilege at the expense of academic excellence. I must say that compared to the things that went down at UNC-  Army's taking a recruit bowling is very low on my list of both academic and athletic scandals.

They're onto us. I guess they figured out how Army lures recruits to the roster. Time for those  football players to clean up their act and start having some accountability. WHAT A JOKE.

Anyway, I wonder who had the highest bowling score.


Army 2-5

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Another game, another train wreck.

The assessment of Kent's defense as one that might fold by the 4th quarter was trumped by the continuing attrition and resulting patchwork along the offensive line. Starting at the top- the entire first season with new coaches and new schemes would be a learning process for any team. You have so many new faces to the starting lineup and once somebody misses a game or plays himself out, it's a lot like being cast into the wilderness. The upside is that the younger guys and the staff, given time, will become the teams nucleus in a few short years. Right now though, there will be growing pains.

There's just not enough you can say about the sloppy play. The way they're going they need to play perfect football to even get a lead big enough to protect for the 4th quarter. And that's part of it too - it's not like Army hasn't put themselves in the thick of games by the 3rd quarter. It's just late game letdown that continues to haunt the team.

Army is 2-5 but the season's not over. Up next is Air Force. As much as the consistent losing stings,it is very much a game by game season. I encourage you to hold out hope for some hardware. The CIC trophy is very much in play and the preparation for Air Force starts now. As strange as it sounds the chance is there for this to be a special season.

In order for that to happen, Army needs to go learn how to win the game. The team is seeing that they must go out and win 4 quarters, but they are not doing the things necessary to finish football games. Off week this week, with no advantage taken as Air Force is also on a bye week.

In the process of it all, Army made Kent QB Colin Reardon look like an All-American. There is something to be said about wrapping up the ball carrier and keeping the play in front of you, but that is best left for the coaches to say. Army lost pretty bad, and with that comes the albatross...

Army now also receiving votes on ESPN's bottom 10. I said it last week: that's what a loss to Kent State would mean. Interestingly, Army's week 3 foe jumped Army in the Bottom 10 ranking.

There is only one place to go from the Bottom 10. Sometimes the motivation of a rival can snap a team out of the doldrums.

    Kent State, which was averaging 11.8 points through its first six games, turned a six-point third quarter lead into a fourth-quarter laugher. Army was outscored 16-0 in the last 15 minutes and embarrassed 39-17 at Dix Stadium.

You have to admit that is one hell of a doldrum.

The Army/Kent State story, stats and highlights.



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