Army 1-0

Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's a new year and a new team and there is a lot to talk about, so let's get right to it.

There is only one word to describe Army football's will to win yesterday: poised. The team showed composure and grit in turning yet another close game into a well deserved win. It's year three for Jeff Monken and the timing couldn't be better for Army to get their first win in Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

On defense Army loaded up against the run and exhibited excellent gap control, neutralizing Temple's run game and forcing Gap control is one thing, but on offense West Point showed mind control. Conditioning and preparation were there, scheme and confidence were both there too. Army got to a point where they looked to be in mid-season form. But in a one possession game, on the road, in that particular stadium - all the anxiety of the last 5 (plus) years was invited back in for conversation.

It was a very strange feeling for me to clearly see Temple on the ropes with no real answers to anything Army was trying - but still worry about a late-game letdown. The letdown never came and Army, a program that had at that point never won at Lincoln Financial Field, rode big play after big play in a 4th quarter that may define their year and shape the coaching tenure of Jeff Monken at Army.

Big day running the ball, I liked a lot of the play calling. Davidson scored on runs of 3 yards and 17 yards and picked up a total of 121 yards rushing. Ahmad Bradshaw looked as good as I can recall an Army QB in a season opener. The team went for a robust 329 yards rushing and they did so without really digging deep into the playbook.

Some of the early passing was effective in the long run in the sense that Temple never seemed to know what to expect. Temple just couldn't catch up with Army's scheme. Temple wasn't pushing Army's offense anywhere, and the owls seemed off balance against some pretty basic play calls. The early success of Army offense vs Temple defense eventually became extended drives for Army and a lot of frustration for the Owls.

To me, the best part was that Army showed very little. They ran some misdirection, the systemic misdirection was present with those early passes and some of the later stuff like the designed toss play to the short side; but mostly Army's most basic stuff was enough to wear down and confuse Temple.

I would love to see a super cut of Temple head coach Matt Rhule whining to the refs. I don't begrudge the interaction, it's part of effective coaching, I just thought it was funny that he was featured so often whining, or pleading, or groveling, how ever you want to put it.

Seeing Jeff Monken
I believed Army could win from the start. History told me to tense up, maybe it was coming in 0 for 10 at Lincoln Financial field or their penchant for losing close games last year, maybe it was their record against the American Athletic Conference, or the result of last year's game against the Owls. By the 4th quarter it was clear which team had the advantage. Army came in ready and took advantage of almost every break that Temple gave them. The defense played as well as advertised, and despite a few things getting loose in the secondary the defense played exceptionally well. It seems like this is the Jeff Monken that we thought was coming in. The team was clearly in a different mindset than in recent years past. It remains to be seen just how good the team will be against an experienced team and a team that wants to play for 4 quarters, but as far as the first test - Army passed with flying colors.

Andy Davidson going home
Andy Davidson with his 22 carries for 121 and 2 touchdowns was an absolute horse. There were guys committing to their assignments and understanding their role in an offense that was humming from the first time they touched the ball. I didn't see too many missed blocks and pretty much every block that could be sustained was sustained. Andy Davidson went back to his backyard and had a storybook game. He will have another chance to make the Linc his home on Dec 12 during the Navy/Army game. Let's hope Andy Davidson makes the end zone his home in the season's build up to that contest.

Ahmad Bradshaw was another star and Army fans are sure glad to have him.

You can take in the opponent reaction here.   I understand their frustration, but I don't know how they thought Temple was going to take such strides forward after losing the pieces that they lost.

Army earned it last night and made a great impression... 1-0

Here's  your Army Temple story, stats and highlights.




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