Army 3-5

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Army lost to Rutgers on Friday night, and while the loss was more or less expected, it ended up being a disappointing loss considering the way Army handled the ball.

Rutgers didn't beat Army as much as it won by default - thanks largely to the largesse of the home team. The Scarlet Knights were given three fumbles and a blocked punt to work with on a soggy, raw evening, and tailback Joe Martinek did most of the rest as they pulled away for a 27-10 victory.
Sal Interdonato takes a second look at the Rutgers game.

A look at the recaps from a Rutgers perspective shows that some saw the game as a laugher.

Last night’s matchup between Army and Rutgers was a bit of a laugher. There was such a wide talent disparity on the field that Army had absolutely no chance of winning, even if the Scarlet Knights did manage to sleep through the third quarter, shooting themselves in the foot several times in the process. RU left a lot on the field. In fact, it’s troubling that they only won by seventeen.

...and other RU proponents saw Rutgers' performance as no laughing matter.

Offensive coordinators
Um, guys, this offense isn't going to cut it against Connecticut next Saturday. Why is Kordell Young running the Wildcat? Why is Jourdan Brooks only getting four carries? Rutgers' tried-and-true 2nd-and-10 run plays are about as predictable as death and taxes. There is just simply no rhythm or life to this offense right now, other than Martinek running for 100-plus yards all the time. It's understandable that you can't play 'pull-out-all-the-stops' offense, but this bland and frankly, predictable mix of conservative play-calling and half-hearted trickery just doesn't seem to be working.

This game should have been Army's toughest test this year, but while Rutgers did win by three scores - they gained more from Army's gaffes than they created themselves. 3 turnovers, a blocked punt TD, and 1 for 11 on third down made the difference in what should have been a winable game, but with a 3-5 record through 8 games nothing is gained from a shoulda/woulda attitude. Rutgers was the far more physical team, but Army clearly beat themselves in this game.
Army's effort couldn't be questioned. Its execution is a different story after a 27-10 loss on Friday night at Michie Stadium before 24,098 fans.

A blocked punt, which was returned for a touchdown, and three lost fumbles, two in the third quarter, showed Army has a ways to go before reaching the level of Rutgers.
- Attendance was listed as 24,098. I know a night game itself isn't going to draw huge numbers West Point, and the weather and TV availability didn't help draw fans to the stadium, but 24,000 is a completely unacceptable number for a night game at Michie Stadium. A full stadium goes a very long way to helping a team achieve on the field, so I was a little bit let down by the low attendance figures. I'll chalk this one up to the weather, but it makes me wonder what to expect in 2011 in Yankee Stadium.

Anyway, this wasn't the one that got away, nor a highway robbery, but looking at the result you've got to wonder if Army might have pulled this one out on a better day. It takes near perfection for Army to upset any Big East team, and more than having good days at Michie Stadium, this team needs to create its own good fortune. The Black Knights will have a chance to work on that as they are off next week before traveling to Air Force on Nov 7th.

Here's your Army/Rutgers story, stats and highlights.

Army Rutgers Connectivity

Friday, October 23, 2009

This week's game is on ESPN2, so there's no real need to post the radio links.... but I did anyway, because that's just how I roll.

Under the Radio tab you will find links to a couple of Rutgers radio stations. No idea if they're streaming the game, but luckily we've got tv coverage on ESPN2.

There is a link to a live video stream as well, so if that's your thing - jump on it.

I'm juiced for this game. I'm becoming more and more optimistic for an Army win as the minutes pass.

If things go as planned I hope to be channeling this guy by the end of the third quarter.

More on Rutgers

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The big story of this game are the two freshman QBs. The Times Herald-Record's Sal Interdonato has the tale of the tape.

Rutgers QB Tom Savage is making his first road start

One week after making his first career start against a BCS opponent, true freshman quarterback Tom Savage tackles another first tomorrow: His first start on the road.
Twelve years ago, Rutgers had another true freshman quarterback make his first career road start at Army. Mike McMahon threw for 386 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 37-35 Rutgers loss in 1997.

“We’ve had the (piped in crowd) noise out here for that reason,” Schiano said of practice this week. “Our offense is kind of built for that anyway. Tommy is a cool customer.”

The Army-Rutgers game will actually feature two of the six true freshmen who are considered starting quarterbacks for their teams. The Black Knights have plebe Trent Steelman running their offense.

Greg Schiano admires Army's option, which is cool - especially since he admired it so much he had RU looking past Pitt during RU's bye week.

With Rutgers only seeing the triple-option once this season — as opposed to twice with Navy on the schedule the two previous seasons — Schiano is a little on edge preparing for it. During its bye week three weeks ago, Rutgers was able to get a little bit of a head start in preparing for the triple-option.

I always find it interesting when coaches actually admit that they look ahead - they never admit it before a game... once in a while they will say something after a win - but it always stands out a little bit when a team loses and the coach admits peeking ahead on the schedule.

Admire Army's option all you want, but the fact is: the Black Knights still have a lot of work to do to get where they want to be.

The Army offense will have to step it up for that to happen. The Black Knights have not scored more than one offensive touchdown in four consecutive games. In the past four weeks, they are 11 of 14 inside their opponent's 20-yard line but have scored just four TDs.

Sal Interdonato does an interview with LB Josh McNary.

And finally, ESPN's Brian Bennett predicts the Big East

Rutgers 28, Army 14: The Black Knights could give their Scarlet counterparts some trouble with their triple-option offense. But Army scored only 16 points against Tulane and needed overtime to reach the same total in a win over Vanderbilt. So the Rutgers defense should be good enough to keep the points down. If Tom Savage and the Scarlet Knights offense can't break out in this game, there's trouble ahead.

Library vol. 5

Absolutely grand book by Edwin Pope, Football's Greatest Coaches (copyright 1955 Tupper and Love Publishers)

The stories in this book illustrate the personalities and backgrounds of 28 of football's greatest early coaches. Heisman, Neyland, Rockne, Sutherland, Warner, Dodd, Blaik, Yost... this one reads like a laundry list of the great coaches and founders of college football.
Here's a link to the full text if you want to search the book's contents
(...or if the embed doesn't appear on your screen - and about that - I'm trying out a new PDF reader, so I'll take a look at it from a few angles, and if it doesn't work - I'll leave it at that, but it looks pretty sweet right now so I'm guessing it should be alright).

Update: I just realized that the new PDF reader doesn't work too well with IE6. I will probably upgrade to IE7 for logistical purposes, but I'm a big believer in Firefox, and I will likely create and view most new posts on that. If you're still using Internet Explorer that's your business - but I'll just suggest that you at least try Firefox, because it's actually pretty awesome.

Moving Forward

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The events surrounding the Temple game: bad calls, erroneous reviews, and poor decisions -are getting a lot more press than the Rutgers game is.

Army AD Kevin Anderson has been outspoken on the questionable calls going against the West Point team.

The game had four plays reviewed. All four went in Temple's favor, including an overturned interception by Army safety Donovan Travis on a pass interference penalty well away from the play.

Army also lost an apparent safety when Temple QB Vaughn Charlton was backpedaling and defensive end Josh McNary appeared to have sacked him in the end zone. Officials ruled forward progress at the 1.

"To be honest, I wouldn't be having this conversation with you now had I not seen the replays from the booth and had I not reviewed the film," said Anderson, who also contacted the director of officiating in the MAC. "I saw it and it doesn't bode well with me that these kind of things happen. It was so one-sided."

Yes there were bad calls, but you wanna know how many times Temple was burned by bad calls in their down years? It happened almost every week.

The thing is, you just can't put yourself in position to let the bad calls burn you. My point? Errors were made, but let's not make a song up over it.

Rich Ellerson continues his losing trend by now losing sleep.

Army DT Mike Gann gets a spotlight piece over at Sal Interdonato's blog.

Seven Games into the 2009 season Josh McNary sits 3rd in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss.

I can't stand revisionist history, but this job over at Conquest Chronicles had me in stitches.

Nonetheless, Michigan football demonstrated sound thinking that day in 1909 when they decided to avoid Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish "respect" campaign led them to take on the likes of Army, Penn State, and Texas. Strange things began to happen to those teams though - Pancho Villa expanded his operations to include Texas, and Pennsylvania separatists attempted to annex College Station to West Virginia. No conclusive proof was found that Notre Dame was involved, but suspicions ran high because of the multi-year effort to stick it to Army.

That effort culminated with the sinking of the Lusitania by former Notre Dame exchange student and walk-on linebacker Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger. Schwieger's log entries typically started with references to being under the blue-gray sky, and while weather in the North Atlantic is generally pretty crap, it has been established that Schwieger used this phrase even on sunny days.

What has a U-Boat attack got to do with the Army football team, you might be asking. Well, the eventual result of the sinking of the Lusitania led to the US entry into World War I, which resulted in the machine-gunning of most of the Army team members who had thwarted Notre Dame's football team. Wolverines shuddered to think that it could have been them.

Looking forward to the Friday game, on ESPN2. Couldn't be more happy to watch Army on national TV. Army is +10 for this game but they should be motivated enough to make this one closer than 10 pts.

AND I got my Mojo back, which is to say: I fixed my tablet PC- that means no more posting from the Mac. Mac OSX always makes me think 'that's what it must be like to be a dyslexic person on a PC'. No offense to the dyslexics, but thankfully I'm back in order on my regulation equipment and I can post to my heart's content. I really could not be more elated.

The Real College Football Officiating Conspiracy

Monday, October 19, 2009

Army fell victim to Temple on Saturday, well... Temple and the referees, but the Army Temple game was nothing compared to one prime example of crooked officiating and some good old home cooking.

Since the Steelers played the Cleveland Browns this weekend, I was already thinking about the history of Pittsburgh vs Cleveland football. It's been a long time since Cleveland has been competitive in the NFL's PIT/CLE rivalry. I'm not a big NFL fan to begin with, but I do know that these teams have had a serious rivalry since the two teams were first paired in the AFC Central division in 1970. The two cities had competitive baseball as early as 1887 when both cities fielded National League teams (Cleveland Spiders and Pittsburgh Pirates), but the original Pittsburgh - Cleveland rivalry was realized in the collegiate football arena in 1918. Even as late as 1937 there was no tangible on the field rivalry between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the topic was not moot in the public realm.

Consider this letter to the editor from the Nov. 23rd, 1937 Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

So to all the Army fans grumbling about the MAC refs at the Army/Temple game... allow me to highlight an example of the poorest of poor officiating. Let's take a look at the 1918 postseason game between Pitt and the Cleveland Naval Reserve football team. The 1918 college football season was truncated by World War I and the deadly Spanish flu pandemic, with many schools suspending play as a cost saving measure.

In no small part due to Pitt coach Pop Warner's efforts, the Pitt team was elite and widely known. Pitt was undefeated for three straight seasons going into 1918. Like most shools, Pitt conducted operations under military discipline, but fortunately, Pitt's Student Army Training Corps were fans of the Pitt team... so the Panthers were allowed to play. They played a truncated season of three games with two games added on the fly: John Heisman's unscored upon Georgia Tech team, and Cleveland Naval Reserve. The panthers won their three games then destroyed Heisman's Yellow Jackets 32-0, and in late November 1918, set out for Cleveland to play the Reserves.

By all accounts the officiating in this game was awful and set Pitt up for what remains today as their most controversial gridiron loss.
Tom Perrin wrote about this game in his book, Football: A College History © 1987

Pitt met the Cleveland Naval Reserve in a postseason game, Pitt scored just six minutes in but the Reserve team bullied the officials so much that the penaties were overlooked, The half ended a minute early when the Panthers reached the goal, and six minutes were added to the last period. During this extra timePitt fell on a fumble, but the Reserves would not give up the ball. After Warner said, "Play it out," a Reserve pass to Pete Stinchcomb from Moon Ducote won it and Pitt's four year win streak was fini."

These offenses were well documented. This article from the New York Times holds a fantastic account of the game from Pop Warner himself:

Cleveland Indians baseball player Ray Chapman was one of the homers leaning on the refs. Interesingly, Ray Chapman holds another strange footnote in sports history as the last baseball player to die from a playing injury from a Major League baseball game. He was hit by a pitch in 1920 and died in the hospital soon after.

So when we start to think that Army got the shaft from the refs at Temple, just consider that these were a few ticky-tack fouls, a few rough replay reviews and that's to be expected when you rely on the other team's conference officiating crews. Let's put it in perspective that there are still 5 games left to qualify for a bowl and Army's bowl hopes are still intact. More than that, there is no conspiracy MAC or otherwise trying to pin losses on the Black Knights. If Army wants to snag the Eagle Bank Bowl from the clutches of the MAC Empire it is upon themselves to do it. I suggest they start with this nationally televised Rutgers game.

Knight Game

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rutgers is 6 games into their season and we still don't know much about how good the Scarlet Knights are. Wins against Howard, FIU, Texas Southern, and Maryland proved only that those schools actually field football teams, and Rutgers' conference losses to Cincinnati and Pitt proved only that Rutgers is not among the Big East elite. There's no question RU will achieve bowl eligibility if they win this one, but in terms of bowl chances - this game is a must-win for both teams.

Rutgers comes to Michie Stadium on Friday for Army's only 2009 night game. I'm ecstatic that it's on ESPN2, because this is an Army team that deserves to be seen. They've made some big strides this year and hopefully will get used to playing on this type of national stage considering the future games that will be played at Yankee Stadium. As lucky as we've been to get all of Army's home games on CBS College Sports Network... complete lapses in coverage preside when Army leaves the friendly confines of home and plays their games out of their home TV deal.

Enter Rutgers - with their Hollywood glitz and Big East swagger. About this time 3 years ago Rutgers was lighting the Empire State Building in scarlet on its way to an 11-2 record and an Inaugural Texas Bowl bid. That was the all-time high-water mark for Rutgers and they have fallen back down to earth since then, but for Army, this likely represents the toughest challenge of the season.

Even at 0-2 in the Big East, this is not the Rutgers team of old. RU has an attacking defense that has blitzed at every turn - which is not to say that they will pass-blitz on Friday, but they do ball-hawk and one thing they absolutely can do is shut down the run. Pitt's Dion Lewis burned them last week, but while Rutgers just can't compare to Pitt - Army will have its hands full with the Rutgers defense.

Army will have to outsmart Rutgers if they want a chance to win. Option misdirection will only go so far against Rutgers' fast front 7... option passes can produce big gains, but they can't be relied on by themselves... I'm proposing the use of big WR Ale Villanueva as a slot receiver as a physical presence to help with the run game AND as a tight target for quick 3 step drop passes. If Army can somehow surprise RU with some new wrinkles to keep them off balance - plus play near-perfect, disciplined, ball control football - mixed with a little decent D (and a few, well... many lucky bounces)... the Black Knights can have a puncher's chance to end the night with a win.

For this week we can forget about CBS College Sports Network coverage as the game will be aired on ESPN2. Army is fresh off a loss after being hosed by the MAC-centric refs at Temple... hopefully Army fans come out in force for this game because the Black Knights will need as many Army fans as possible in this one versus the team from nearby New Jersey. Beyond fan support it would be great to see a full stadium for ESPN's marquee Friday night game. There's no reason to stay away and if you want to watch the game on TV - record it and watch it again while Navy plays their game on CBS College Sports Network. The most important thing is to attend this one live.


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