Army 3-4

Saturday, October 17, 2009

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.

Army Temple "Connectivity"

No TV for this one... maybe a video stream will materialize before kickoff, but I'm not counting on it.

Your best bet to follow this game will be WABC. Of course as Army's flagship station there's a link under the radio tab.

You can also find a link to Temple's flagship radio station AM 1340 WHAT under the radio tab.

ITT Knight Vision is available for those who must watch the game.

Good luck following this one from home, folks.

Update I found a video stream for this one, try here.

Temple's Homecoming Beer Goggles

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's interesting blogging for Army, as I usually have to tone down any boisterous smacktalk since Army hasn't been very very good at football since the internet was invented.

Being the low man on the D-1A blogging totem pole gives one a certain humility that you might not get if you were blogging a team like, say Florida for instance.

Since getting kicked out of the Big East joining the MAC Temple has reclaimed its mojo not in small part by hiring Penn State homeboy Al Golden. Al Golden was a fantastic hire for Temple; I mean how often is it that a program can hire a member of the Jersey Shore Sports Hall of Fame? Lofty accolades aside, Golden has the Owls at 3-2 and poised to take the MAC East.

Being a humble Army Black Knights blog, it's way beyond me to post some trite ish, like "Wow! Temple actually has a blog?!" No, I'm sure The Unbalanced Line has that market of incredulous onlookers covered. I am however very surprised about how Temple Football Forever lets fly with this nugget.

People who watched Temple practice in the summer came up with one name.
Eric Dickerson.
It's what I thought when I saw Pierce for the first time in the Villanova game.
Dickerson was the kind of guy who would approach the hole, take about a half-second to mull his options against the defense, then attack the weakest part of it.
So, I thought, that pretty much was Pierce, a modern-day Eric Dickerson.
I thought me and the other Temple fans were the only ones who thought that until I heard the Buffalo announcers.
"He kind of reminds you of Eric Dickerson," one of them said during the Owls' 37-13 win three weeks ago.
Then the Eastern Michigan announcer said the same thing.
"He runs like Eric Dickerson," he said.
That's all I needed to know.
We're all in agreement then.
There is a new Eric Dickerson and he runs the football for Temple University.

Bernard Pierce is the new Eric Dickerson. Really?

The obvious flaw in that comparison is that Pierce played his 3 games against Buffalo, Eastern Michigan and Ball State three MAC non-power non-houses that have a combined 1 FCS win between the three of them. Army isn't Texas, and I'm not going to pretend they are - but the Knights are certainly above the level of winless Ball State and Eastern Michigan. In fact the Black Knights have proved so much on the field. Unless Freshman Pierce wears Eric Dickerson goggles fitted with a dual laser, his streak of 100 yard games will end Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Moving on... Sal Interdonato over at Varsity 845U is talking bowl game. If Army wants to achieve 6 wins and gain a bid to the Eaglebank Bowl they will have to win its winable games. The Temple game - Eric Dickerson or not... falls in the winable category.

Army Temple Preview

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's an away game Saturday as Army goes to Temple and will do their part to try to spoil the Owls' homecoming. It's Temple's last non-conference game and Army will have its hands full as Temple puts their tough running attack up against Army's tough D.

Temple's is coming off three straight wins. Army is looking to win back to back games for the first time this season and it would be great to for the Black Knights to get their 4th win of the year on the road. Temple's win streak apparently boosts their credibility, but with but their last two opponents remaining winless, just how much of Temple's credibility is deserved?

The Owls are using a freshman RB, Bernard Pierce.

“He’s starting to feel it,” Golden said. “He’s starting to carry it, and he’s getting stronger as the game goes on. He’s giving us a glimpse of obviously what he can be. He’s got to continue to work hard and become an all-around player – catch the ball better and protect a little bit better – but right now, he’s doing a good job in the running game.”
Here are some quick hits from Temple's perspective

During coach Al Golden’s four-year tenure, the Owls have come to play on Homecoming. Their only win of the season in 2006 came on Homecoming, a game-winning field goal in 2007 made it two in a row, and last year, the Owls dropped a tough one, 7-3. After opening last season with a 35-7 drubbing of Army and their strong play on Homecoming, expect a good showing this weekend.

Continue to pound the rock: It’s safe to say the Owls have become a running team led by freshman back Bernard Pierce. On Saturday, Pierce rushed 26 times for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns. He became the first Owl freshman to rush for 100 yards in three straight games, the most since Tanardo Sharps had four straight 100-yard games in 2002.

Defense has to step up: With Army planning to pound the ball this weekend, the responsibility falls on the Owls defense. In the win against Ball State, the defense produced five sacks, two interceptions and nine tackles for loss. Army succeeds when it can control the clock and wear down opposing defenses, so making stops on third down and getting off the field will be crucial.
Temple Football Forever is a Temple Blog that I will be sure to add to the link list.

Rich Ellerson's press conference quotes are up as are Army/Temple game notes.

Army @ Temple Saturday 1:00 PM EST

Library vol. 4

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No college football library would be complete without Walter Camp and Lorin F. Deland's comprehensive early volume titled Football.

Teaching equal parts strategy, technique and history, this book was written before most colleges even started playing football.

Camp's Football begins with American football's roots in rugby football and continue with game day strategy including play diagrams, instruction on fundamentals and an early rule book.

Chapter 8 @ p.350 begins a list of diagrammed plays that Camp presumably designed himself. A lot of guys come here looking for unbalanced line plays and you can find Walter Camp's unbalanced offense diagrams beginning on page 163.

Note that the unbalanced line plays will need to change to a direct snap since the modern rules have limited the number of payers that can set up in the backfield. Last year Pitt ran the play above using three tight ends... switching the strong side by motioning one TE and following the motion with a tight-end-around sweep. I haven't seen it used yet this year, but it worked for 6 to 8 yards per play under former Pitt OC Matt Cavanaugh. Maybe Pitt is saving it for tougher in-conference games, or maybe that's one of the plays that was lost in the transition to a new offensive coordinator.

Google did an unbelievable job getting this book up as there's a nice table of contents at the beginning of the book (note the contents button on the google viewer) and a detailed hotlinked index at the end.

Walter Camp has a well deserved reputation as the father of college football and this book is an essential read for those interested in the history of the sport.


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 Library 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.

____________________ © 2009 The Unbalanced Line ____________________

The Problem of Overtime in College Football

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Playoff included, the single item that is most easily fixable with regard to the BCS system is college football overtime. Overtime tiebreakers contribute absolutely nothing to college football. Every year they have to tweak the BCS formula because somebody gets screwed on bowl selection, if they're not tweaking the BCS math then they're moving kickoffs back 5 yards or changing the timekeeping of the game. Without OT games would naturally be shorter and more likely to fit into the predesignated TV window. That's what really gets me about the NCAA: they screw around with the time tested rules at the expense of the newest, stupidest rules they can think of (BCS & overtime)

Without a playoff in college football we must rely on opinion to decide a national champion. In that respect it would help if we had more information to base our opinions on. Ties are an important source of information when we look at a team's overall body of work. 2007 was a great example of this: LSU endured two OT losses that ended up being useless in determining where LSU was ranked. If we eliminated OT LSU would have been 10-0-2, undefeated national champions and everything would have been great.

In 2006 Boise ran the table and knocked off a great Oklahoma team in the bowl. Boise fans are die-hard by nature, and I respect that some called for national championship recognition, but they were not the best team in '06. If we eliminated overtime Boise would have been 12-0-1 undefeated team, great year - but no claim to a national title.

Some of the best games in the history of college football ended in ties.

1968 Harvard 29 - Yale 29
Harvard scored two touchdowns and two 2pt conversions in the last minute in "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29"

1966 ND 10 - Mich St. 10
Notre Dame elected to kick for the tie rather than face a loss in what became an instructional example to all sane football coaches.

1935, 1936 and 1937 Pitt 0 - Fordham 0
Three straight scoreless ties defined the Pitt Fordham rivalry in the mid 30s. 3-straight, scoreless; which isn't to say these were bad games: those teams combined for a 42-4-9 record for those three years.

1946 Notre Dame 0 - Army 0
Who could forget the "Game of the Century"? #1 Army tied #2 Notre Dame to share the national title... an epic tie at the highest level of college football. Here's what this one looked like:

We're in a time where TV exposure is the single biggest driving force in major college football. This is true to the point where TV interests have influenced NCAA officials to find creative ways to shorten games for TV. Rule changes have been the norm since the Bowl Coalition was founded in 1997. That's the same year we got overtime - which essentially lengthened games and provided a contest separate from the actual football game where the winner could be decided. The new BCS system allowed the stakes in college football to be pushed higher than ever, with each year more and more riding on human and computer evaluation of the top 25. Why then would we eliminate important information such as ties which would help pollsters decide after all who is worthy of being crowned champion?

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Army won- but I wish they could have gotten the job done in regulation. The Vandy game was exciting, but the contest after 60 minutes wasn't football; if OT were so great why don't we play the whole game on a 25 yard field? As it is I wholeheartedly disagree with the institution of overtime.


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