Army 2-0

Monday, September 11, 2017

Army persevered in the second half and put together one full half of winning football to defeat a game Buffalo Bulls squad. The only thing it could the game could have done more to reminded me of last year's game was to go to Overtime.

This was really Army's first full game, instead of playing 86 players Army needed their best available 22 down the stretch. It was likewise the first time Army found themselves in a serious hole this year.

This game was timely reminder that one little penalty can just derail the whole system. In the first quarter it was a 15 yarder on 1st down that put the Cadets behind schedule and then, soon after punting, behind on the scoreboard as well.

Army took a chance on their next possession, now down 7 to 10... 4th and 2....Army on the Buffalo 35 yard line. Well, the offbeat call would be to take a shot downfield, and offbeat is what they went for. Bradshaw's pass sailed long, missing a wide open receiver. I'm going to disagree with that call every single time. I get trying to scheme yourself into advantageous situations, but it's early in the 2nd quarter, Army is down 3 points and the offense had the chance to finally get into a groove with a bread and butter 2 yard run. I don't know what their internal calculus was on that call. On one hand, Buffalo had just stuffed two runs for a yard each in this set of downs - on the other hand Army averaged 6.66 yards per carry at that point. Whatever the outcome, TD or turnover, maybe a shot down the field right there was just enough to quiet down those who think Army needs to pass more.

Army threw 9 passes, three of those were for being behind schedule - 3rd and long or backed up due to penalties. Five of the passes were taking a shot on early downs, and one was the 4th and 2 heave through the uprights. The thing is, once Army got the passing out of their system they were able to run the ball and stay ahead of down/distance trouble - and play their way back into the game.

Buffalo played very well on defense. There were a couple of big plays for Army, but in terms of playing the option they did an exceptional job. Last year Army played their 4th game of the year at Buffalo, so realistically there was no chance to hold any of the playbook back from the Bulls this time around. Lance Leipold, for all the growing pains he's enduring coaching at the D1 level, played pretty solid X's and O's in this one. There were some mismanaged downs, the end of the half without throwing the deep ball one more time - that's how UB got all their points - off of the long bomb or a missed assignment. I think you at least have to chuck it up in that spot. The only downside I can imagine is Army getting pressure on the pass and hitting Jackson during that long wind-up and by throwing it there maybe Leipold saw a risk of letting up some cheap points there at the half.

You want to talk about great coaching? You need not look farther than Army OC Brent Davis. When Ahmad Bradshaw tore off that 52 yard scamper to set up Army's first points it was clear Army knew they needed to open the playbook up a little bit. At first I thought it was something out of Paul Pasqualoni's freeze option scheme, but I looked at it again and it was just a perfectly blocked QB counter sweep. That was the second time all year Army pulled an interior lineman and the first time they pulled linemen to block misdirection at the point of attack, and it was flawlessly executed. To be able to pull that level of orchestration out of your pocket this early in the season - for a one off play. It tells me they have some good stuff in store for upcoming opponents and I, for one, should worry less about Army showing pages out of their playbook.

Here are the Buffalo/Army story, stats and highlights.




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