Army lost 27-13 at Temple today, and was plagued by the same miscues that derailed the team in losses vs. Duke and Tulane. There were some new gaffes added to the mix today, as Coach Ellerson obviously ignored the clock, field position, down and distance - and tried to convert a 4th and 1 from Army's own 25 with 9 minutes remaining in the game.
I understand that a team should be able to root out a yard when they need it, but the decision to go for it on 4th down in a tie game with nine minutes on the clock is unfathomable. It reminded me of the 1996 Temple/Pitt game when coach Ron Dickerson chose to go for the win on a fake punt from their own 41 yard line. With 2:44 left in the game Temple faked the punt only to get the run stuffed - and gave the Panthers great field position, a touchdown, and a 53-52 victory.
That kind of coaching mistake is inexcusable, and hopefully it's a learning experience- but if you ask me it's a little late in the season to be learning that kind of lesson.
Temple converted the short field into a TD and scored another TD late off of another turnover as the wheels fell off the Army game plan late.
The Army players had to overcome their own mistakes - 14 penalties, a very soft 1st half defense and a determined opponent made the going tough for the Black Knights. Sal Interdonato points to a conspiracy regarding all the penalties, but honestly, you've got to deal with the elements during a game... in this game the officials were part of that. Here's Rich Ellerson's take on going for it on 4th down.
"That's horrible. We've got to be able to do that with two tries. It's not 4th-and-1, it's 4th and a half of one. The situation is we are punting into a hurricane. It's fourth down. We are going to need field position and need to score. We can't be afraid of fourth down. We just can’t be not with what we do on offense. We need to be the best in the world at this. Obviously, we are not. With third and 18 inches and two snaps, if you can't get 18 inches what makes you think we're going to win the football game? What magic is going to happen out there that you're going to somehow manufacture points? Wait for them to screw it up, I guess. We are going to do that. The situation, the field position, the field conditions, the wind conditions, everything said that's what you needed to do and I'm not going to be afraid. We are going to keep doing that. I can't wait to do it again.
Ah, O...K... that decision cost Army the game... cost me the Army +10 cover, and Ellerson wants to do it again? Yes you should be able to get a yard when you need it, but just you can't put yourselves in that position. You've got a defense with the new Army sack king and the gppd part of a quarter left. Get rid of the ball. Yeah, you're punting into a hurricane.... maybe the returner will drop the kick... he's not going to break one on you... Just. Get. Rid. Of. The. Ball.
It's goes against logic to play so conservatively and keep the game close through 3 quarters and gamble it all away on your own 25. Even with the better part of a quarter remaining... Army simply never recovered. And as for the officiating conspiracy theory... if you can't deal with kicking into the wind - what makes anyone believe you can overcome bad calls. Conspiracy? There is none.
I will update this later with today's story and stats.