A couple of things dawned on me during this game. The first took me by surprise how much this team reminds me of Rich Ellerson's first season 2009.
I mean that very much in the sense of how the roster is composed now with an eye on the future makeup of the team. We can look at the mix of youth and experience, but I got to thinking about what that team needed in order to succeed in the following years.
Leadership on the field - This team will always be loaded with leaders. What Army needs is most players making plays. Converting big plays whether it's on offense or defense will make the difference in every game. Army was one missed play away from stealing that game just as they were one big play from tying an ACC team.
Teamwork - What I see in this area is where Coach Monken is paying off. Things like knowing the plays and trusting the offense this team has down pretty well. The team's collective focus clearly has the team headed in a positive direction and this year's players should be just as excited as the fans that this team is going to achieve some great things.
It is the things like running off the field at halftime that demonstrate that collective focus. In Army, I see a team who operates with a tremendous amount of pride. A proud team runs to the locker room at the half and finishes plays smartly and with power. Pride itself won't keep you from jumping offside, but it is the commitment of the player to improve himself where the same pride can make a difference.
Another thing that I realized after this weekend was that we are already at that point of the season where I can compare Army to Pitt. Every year I end up making some sort of comparison between Army and my Alma Mater. Saturday, both teams lost close games, both teams showed great growth, they both played their way back into games and both looked like they were headed to OT but Iowa kicked a 57 yard FG to beat Pitt and we watched Mike Weaver kick Wake Forest ahead of Army in the final seconds.
Losses are not good, but both teams have big time positives that they can take out of their respective games. They both played enough to win, in Army's case one INT at the end could have breathed life into the season. This season is not just about getting in position to win games but also individuals learning how to make the plays that win games.
Pitt is set up for a nice season. I know they lost James Conner, but they finally have a QB. They play their road games in the 1st half of the season and Heinz Field is not very inviting in late October in Pittsburgh. The Panthers are right to raise expectations even in a loss - all because they found a quarterback who can make plays down the field.
For Army the luxury is being able to look ahead to next year. Guys like Timpf and and Bradshaw are going to get their plays. Enjoy their contributions this year and understand these are the leadership moments that guys like Trent that need to happen early and often in order to win consistently next year. So forget about next year for now, as I said the team's stars are going to get their plays and there still is a lot of football still to be played this season. By all means enjoy the season; this team is building for something bigger.
Here's your Army/Wake Forest story, stats, and highlights.
Sunday, September 20, 2015