Army took care of business at home Saturday, paying back the Rice Owls for the past 2 years of frustration with an impressive and dominant win.
If you're like me, three plays into the 1st quarter with Rice leading 7-0, you had doubts. Is Army going to have to play catch-up all day vs. Rice? Could Rice be faster and better than advertised? My doubts were erased once Army's offense started to move the ball with ease, and after the result of Army's first 6 plays tied the score there was not much else to be concerned about. After looking back at the tape, Army had zero doubts about the play calls and very few questions about their assignments. In fact, the first quarter was an exercise in absolute trust between coaching staff and athlete. 4th and a foot with 5 min to play in the first? Come on. That decision ill advised that early in the game, but at that point with almost 10 min gone in the first quarter Army was already doing whatever they wanted to against the Rice. On the few times where the Rice defense had Army's play dead to rights - Ahmad Bradshaw would wisely tuck the ball and take the loss. For a play that breaks down - it just ends up being a great decision. The offense stays within reasonable down and distance and advances - ultimately scoring touchdown #2.
All kinds of formations, and misdirection... some shotgun, wishbone, midline veer. There was something for everyone, and they got in and just ran their plays. Rice would get in for a 3 yard loss... ok how about a quick fullback draw for 10+ yards? Just a very high level of competence at this early stage of the season.
A few of the metrics easily tease out Army's dominance.
- 40:00 + minutes of ball possession.
- Nearly doubling up Rice's first downs 23 to 12
- Outgaining Rice 414 yards to 289
It was as complete a dismantling as you could imagine. There are some very enjoyable replays to be seen if you would like to go back and watch it. I don't think we've seen even a fraction of Army's playbook, which is a nice luxury to have at 2-0 as we look ahead to a three game road trip.
The real story in this one was Army's defense: Rice had 12 drives, 7 times Rice ended up punting the ball, twice the ball was turned over. The offense can be as good as you want it to be, but if the defense can't make plays and make plays that count, you can quickly find yourself playing catch up.
Oh, and Danny Wild has some pretty nice photos from the game. Check out some of his past work or bookmark his site.
Here's your Rice/Army story, stats and highlights
Ahead is a night game in the Sun Bowl. The evening should make for an exciting atmosphere in El Paso in, as much as I would like to see a true Sun-Bowl early afternoon start, the night game will have to suffice.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016