Army 4-7

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Army knocked off an undersized but game Fordham team a few weeks ago moving their mark up to 4-7. It's nice to see that Army can win a game or 2 or 4 in this transition year, but the feeling that this was a letdown of a season keeps creeping up on me.

Yes, Army should have handled Yale - but Yale is no joke of a team. When UConn people got down on their own team for losing to Army - who lost to Yale. (YALE?!) It wasn't because they were disgusted about their own team. It's because they wanted to talk down to somebody. Well isn't it fun when a fan base like that gets their foot shoveled off? SMU smacked UConn in East Hartford for the Mustangs' first win of the year raising themselves out of the NCAA basement and kicking UConn down those same stairs. The cherry on top was UConn's basketball team losing a game at home to stinkin Yale.  (YALE?!)  I would give back UConn's loss to erase Army's loss, but at least Yale football is a good team. So I don't want to hear another peep out of sad and bitter UConn fans til they find acceptance within themselves that Connecticut athletics is closer to Vermont athletics than anything the AAC is doing, let alone the ACC.

So we're winding down year one of the Jeff Monken era. There have surely been disappointments - but change doesn't happen in one season. If Army went to New Haven and beat Yale we would have a different perspective on the season right now. The Black Knights would be playing for 6-6 and despite losing a lot of talent in 2015 we've found out a lot about the underclassmen on this team. No matter how you slice it, even with a losing record Army should feel optimistic about the near and long term future.

There will always be errors and some tightness in the first season, that's just how things work. Some of the poor play calls will be ironed out or wholly unnecessary in a couple of years. Right now, Army should be happy with their body of work. There's one more game for the seniors to show off; it's the most important game of our season and the most important game of their lives. Don't count them out: Army is DUE.

Anyway, Army is 4-7 - champion of New York City and face Navy next in the last game of the year.

Here's the Army Fordham story, stats, pictures and highlights.


Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Army 3-7

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sal touches on one of the artifacts of the regime change - the tricky dynamic between a new coaching staff and established personnel. It's one of those things that makes you scratch your head every time and ask "wow what happened to _____?" or "why isn't _____ seeing the football?"

You'll waste your breath at this point to worry about who's getting carries. When programs change coaches and change schemes it's simply going to take time to acclimate to the change in culture.
One is inclined to say oh, this guy should be hitting runs for career high numbers, but the first year is about teaching. Every once in a while a coach takes over and a team and maybe they return some stars and maybe the coaching change refreshes leadership within the team.

We've all seen both sides of the coin and it's particularly vexing when you guess the coaching change won't affect your team's upperclassmen in either leadership or performance, but it does for one reason or another. 

Here's the thing, and I'm happy to get out in front of this today before the Fordham game, Army by many reasonable speculations should have gone to the Poinsettia Bowl this year. Phil Steele had them bowl bound, I thought they should have gained at least 6 wins just judging by what I saw as a soft schedule. Then the setback at Yale, who is having a fine year of it themselves. 100 years of Yale Bowl? I wish the Elis could go to a bowl because they deserve the honor. They play Harvard in their finale for the Ivy League title and win or lose they'll be home for the holidays just like Army. Yale has been a buzz saw this year - incidentally so has Harvard, and 'The Game' has some high stakes this year.

Yale and Harvard have met 58 times since the Ivy League started handing out a championship trophy. This year's meeting at Boston is just the seventh time (since 1956) that the Bulldogs and Crimson each have Ivy title potential heading into the season finale. On a Saturday at Harvard Stadium when ESPN's College GameDay is on site for all the pomp and circumstance and NBC Sports Network airs live coverage, Yale (8-1, 5-1 Ivy) kicks off with No. 17 Harvard (9-0, 6-0) at 12:30.

So Yale is playing ball, but their head coach Tony Reno is only in his 3rd year. How did that team fare in Reno's first season as HC? 2-8, 1-6 Ivy finishing last place in their league. Two years later they're 8-1 playing for a league title. -Just something that distracted me while looking the season's story.

Upcoming is another one-loss team, another team that was probably overlooked as a win before the season started, and now ,well, you have to tune in to see who is the steward of New York football. Incidentally forget the throwback Thursday you've seen this week. 1962 Army/Syracuse in the last college football game in the Polo Grounds is flat-out as good as it gets for a classic video clip.
Fordham has revamped their program and completely restored their standing as a football power. The Rams simply finished 12-2 in the FCS last year and were a playoff team and a top 10 team at that level.
This year, Fordham is just as nasty. Their only loss is to a ranked Villanova team at Philly in the second week, they are already Patriot league champions and have qualified for the FCS playoffs.

Army's facing a tough team Saturday, if they show up and play like they own the place - play sound ball possession football, take care of the ball and take the game physically to Fordham they will be playing for a chance to win. If it's more of the same falling asleep at the wheel in the second half Fordham will have its fans thinking about a step up to FBS.

Oh, here's the Army WKU story, stats and highlights.


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



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