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.


Kent State Items

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Here's Army's game notes for the trip to Kent State.

Kent State game notes are here. Two good punters will play today: The Golden Flashes have a fine punter Anthony Melchiori averaging 44 yards per punt. I've seen this team and they are Flashes in name only - this might be the week Josh Jenkins takes one back all the way. If we know one thing, Army is due to break one.

Kent State is a Bottom 10 team - a designation Army has flirted with all year, and I have no doubt that if the Black knights lose this one - they will make the Bottom 10 list next week.

Kent State's coach Paul Haynes put up an Army week Coaches' blog post. A couple of points on that:

First: Kent State's head coach has more blogs up this week than I do. That probably says more about me as a blogger than it says about him as a coach, but I realize I haven't given a lot of attention to the website. 

Kent hasn't been very good this year, and while saying things like:

"It is tough to stop the option. When playing Army, you almost need them to make a mistake every once in a while. You need them to drop a ball, or have two guys go in motion at the same time, or get called for a cut block, just to get their offense off schedule. "

.... seems like a lot of coachspeak. If you look at the records, if you look at some of the performances that Kent has put up - you have got to wonder whether that kind of wishful thinking is a major part of their game plan. I don't know, but I have seen tape of Kent, and I think it would take those things and a whole lot more for Army to lose this one.

Here's a video of Kent State Coach Haynes' presser regarding adjusting for Army's top 3 rushing attack.

At about 6:49 of the video Coach Haynes talks about the challenge of facing Army mid-season. He mentions that it is is hard to prepare for Army's offense in just one week and how it's important to maintain their schemes and terminology for this week. He says they don't want to over-think the triple option, which, if they have been over-thinking their opponents to this point of the season, may spell trouble for Army's top 3 rushing offense. One thing about Kent's defensive front - they have gassed in just about every game they've played this year. I care less about what Kent St. can or can't do than I do what Army can do to control the game - and in my opinion, that is just it...I'd like to see some ball control this week. I want to see 2 to 1 time of possession in favor of the Cadets. It kind of bothered me in last week's post game presser that Angel Santiago said the offense doesn't have an overarching clock management paradigm (at about 2:42 of the video). We'll see if they need one today, but I think that is a phase of the game that Army can certainly control, and I would like to see some thought in regard.

The Black Knights should be 3-3 coming into this one - instead they are 2-4 with a must-win game on the road. The win gives you 3-4 and puts you back on schedule to finish the season the way we would like.

Kent State does have internet radio, and that can be found in the Radio tab above.

3:30 kickoff... LETS GO


Army 2-4

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Can you to take away some positives from the game?
-Certainly. The offense had some great moments, which is nice considering some of the attrition across the line this year.
-In general, the situational misdirection that's coming off of Brent Davis' playbook is pretty impressive. I can see that the players have put a lot into learning and implementing the coaches ideas. I think Army will be fine in the coming years based a lot on how the coaches are motivating the athletes.
Some of the clock management ideas could be adjusted - and I think need to be adjusted. Despite the unimpressive results in some games this season, I think the offense is in a positive place and capable to put together winning games. The Army offense has pretty good mechanics and with Santiago under center - I'm telling you defenses have to remain disciplined every single play or this offense can make you pay in a hurry.

There was a stretch after the half where Rice dominated in all phases of the game - taking a 17 point lead and stretching it to  24. That's what winning teams can do. Rice is a strong team to come up to Michie Stadium and win the way they did.

The longer inside runs: Larry Dixon's 43-yarder and Angel Santiago's touchdown were both results of Rice not having the center covered. If you're going to let Matt Hugenberg, or any Army center, out into the linebacker level you can expect to get gashed inside by Dixon and Santiago. The offensive line did yeoman's work Saturday, but there were too many negative plays strung together to beat a team like Rice.

The tackling issues continue to haunt Army's defense, and it's the opponent's defense that turned the game.
Rice's defense completely won in some big situations and the Owls looked completely dominant in all phases of the game. I mean the Rice defense goes out and strings together huge stops - and they come off and Rice has this guy under center.

Driphus Jackson had a huge game. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 209 yards with 3TDs and zero INT. That's the kind of play that settles the game by the half. In fact 14 of Jackson's first 15 passes were complete and by the time he missed for the second time the game was headed to the 4th quarter and pretty much decided already. Jackson was afforded much praise.

Jackson took his coach’s compliment in stride. “I carry myself as such,” he said when asked if he views himself as the finest passer in the conference. “It’s important for me to have that kind of swagger on the field. I feel I have that confidence from him and the team, so it makes it easier to go out there.”

14 of 15 to start the game will go a long way for swagger.

That's the story. Rice/Army stats and highlights here


Naught 0wl

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Last I saw, Army is a 1 point underdog. That's nowhere near where I have the point spread, and while it's not up to me-  if I were a player, I would be angry at that outlook. On the field or on the sideline, I would consider that a personal physical challenge. I don't really see this game as close. It is the Owl's (Athene noctua) natural tendency to leave its feet when confronted that will endanger this species. I think Army wins at home and puts this game and Rice in the rear view mirror. I'm looking forward to seeing how Army's offense lines up throughout the game. Also, focus should be on remaining focused for 4 full quarters and finishing the game - also in all 4 quarters.

Sal Interdonato has the best Army football stuff / He's a fantastic beat writer and he is, right now, at his prime. Army football fans do and should flock to his blog site. Visit these sites [goodness /good news] to find more interesting writing by Sal and others.

I feel pumped up after reading the Fox News coverage. Not a thing wrong with that. I am however, fairly sure they're bringing some of these creeps. My prediction? this one of those games that you will absolutely have to be there for. Set the game to record on your DVR. If you're within driving distance, come in from the west, take the train up the Hudson. It's this kind of game you just get a feeling about. Whether or not you believe right now that Army football will achieve - If you're a fan you will probably look back at this game and wish you were there to watch in person.


Rice Game Items

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Army/Rice game notes are up (.pdf)

Coach Monken's pregame presser quotes are up as well. 

Rice comes in looking pretty balanced:

RK    TEAM   YDS    YDS/G    PASS     P YDS/G     RUSH     R YDS/G    PTS    PTS/G
69     Rice    2160       432      1135       227.0       1025       205.0        138     27.6

77     Army  2102       420        411        82.2        1691       338.2        144     28.8

227 ypg passing and 205 ypg rushing. I don't imagine Rice will have the football enough to ring up those kind of numbers,

Another well deserved spotlight piece shows a renewed Rice more focused on football this year than ever.


         No, seriously though one of the more dynamic players on the Rice Owls is QB Driphus Jackson. Rice runs a lot of pistol and Shotgun I-form and they play some zone-read option, as well as run some regular power out of the Shotgun I. Jackson has definite escapability inside and outside of the pocket, and he's turned busted plays into positive yards in games against Texas A&M and Notre Dame.

         After seeing a little bit of Rice in the first few weeks, Army's focus should be on the back end - sticking to D. Jackson's targets downfield and challenging Rice to make a play on the ground. Not that you don't want to pressure the QB, but there needs to be containment of the QB above all else. It could be a nervy game trusting Army's secondary to cover, because the Owls mix it up well. The Owls pass a lot on characteristic running situations and, for better or for worse, do some running on obvious passing down and distances. It will be yeoman's work for the defense to lock down the zone-read option and cover the play action passing game that stems off of that pistol set.

        I don't want to give the impression that Driphus Jackson is the Incredible Hulk, but he's thrown just 3 INTs this year, gets some favorable schemes from the zone read & it's play action pass, and they play kind of off-beat with plenty of 1st and 2nd down passing as a kind of common wrinkle in their offense. Jackson's escapability brings into the spotlight Army's tackling: the success of the defense could hinge on whether they can effectively bring D. Jackson to the ground: the arm tackles and some of the ole' tackles we've seen in weeks past aren't going to cut it against a QB with Driphus' size and ability. If Army can contain 3 downs of passing and make Rice run and the Black Knights should step away with a sizable lead by the 3rd. What happens in the 4th quarter, then, is anyone's guess.


Army 2-3

Monday, October 6, 2014

Army wins 33-24

Over the Pylon posted a scathing response to the result.

It would appear to me that the playcalling is conservative at best, completely incorrect at times. That is 100% a coaching issue. It would appear to me that the units are at times unfocused, ill-prepared, and not ready to compete at a championship level. Allowing them to get to that point is 100% a coaching decision. Allowing them to remain in the lineup is 100% a coaching issue. Allowing them to remain in the lineup because the remainder of the roster (for the first time in the Lembo era comprised entirely of his recruits) is not any better is 100% a coaching issue.

When you look at the success Army has had on offense a lot of it has come against nose guards in straight up zero technique. In fact, Army's triple option sees a TON of straight up nose tackle vs center. That comes from the general thought that a triple option offense could easily flip the direction of a play at the line of scrimmage. Yale didn't line up in much zero technique - mostly in short yardage & goal line plays in packages that had built in 1 gap help. Not that Army didn't have success against the pair of 1 technique guards - you can look back at some of Army's drives against Yale and see they had some success creating holes up front with center & guard leverage vs 1 technique & 1 technique, and they had success turning those players around with a little misdirection - letting the Yale guards run themselves out of the gaps. The point there is that no matter what you run zero or 1 or however you play it - that player on the center needs to physically and mentally dominate his player every defensive play of the game. To get beaten off the ball for the whole game and still run the same zero technique is absolutely on the defensive coordinator. Anything after that is the nose not making his play, not getting off the center, or doing things outside of the defense to try to make up for his original assignment - that is - it's on the player as much as the coach.

I'm not picking on one Ball State guy saying the guard lost the game. Both teams featured some woeful tackling. Ball State's defense just happened to have the worse game in terms of wrapping up the ballcarrier. My point is that the players have to make the play. If you have a guy in your grasp at 5 yards - giving up 15 on that play isn't at all acceptable. Let's forget about Ball State's defense right now - that's directed at the Black Knights. There needs to be attention to detail regarding tackling. Both teams missed tackles that went for big plays - as a defense, Army can't expect to win games tackling the way they have been. We talk about Army's trend of giving games away late - if all 11 players wrapped up and tackled for 4 quarters that subject of giving up leads would vanish into the autumn sky.

You have to like the result. Army is racking up offensive yardage and has finally out-schemed their opponent, but that came along with some familiar defensive troubles. A win at home against Rice next week and Army's back on track. There is hope for this season yet, you would almost like to see them adopt a team mantra like "Finish Strong" - but really I'd be even happier if they spent the energy working on bringing down ball carriers.

Army jumped back up to 3rd in team rushing (avg/game)

Here's the Ball State/Army story stats and highlights.



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