Army 3-2

Saturday, October 6, 2018

 Last year I was worried about losing to Buffalo; this year the feeling was the same - right up until it wasn't.

Army is just a road grader on offense. There are just so many threats to close down. Play action, unbalanced, midline option, shotgun and plus a fullback crew that rotates in fresh from the bench. The O-line gets warmed up and it is pretty much: 6 yards, 6 yards, 2 yards, 10 yards, 4 yards 3 yards and top that off with third down passing executed as prescribed. The staples of the Army offense are vexing and potent- but opposing coaches can further ponder Army's deepening playbook and misdirection schemes.

With the ol' QB counter keeper and the Rocket fake-pass Army has called on multiple elements of the freeze option offense. If we see Army go split backs /QB drop back delay QB draw, then Paul Pasqueloni will start poking around the West Point Athletics Department looking for royalties checks.

Calen Holt's early touchdown to tie the game was crafted from a cleverly masked unbalanced formation and a quick pitch to the B Back. The Cadets have hung their hat on the fullback inside, and now we're seeing these little misdirection plays to get the B backs out in space. I don't think there's a team on Army's schedule that can shut down their week 4 playbook - now we're seeing a little bit of the creativity that Brent Davis employs with the flexbone. I don't know how teams are planning on stopping Army's tendencies when the offense is now seasoning its plays with some pretty effective systemic misdirection off of the Cadets usual (and unusual) looks.

 Once I saw Army's 7 minute- 12 play sleeper hold of a drive to go up 14-7 I knew that Buffalo's offense was under the microscope and Army was in good shape. At that point Buffalo answered the challenge, but with he Bulls punching back - Elijah Riley took the blocked Buffalo field goal try for an Army score. Riley, with his long flowing locks, I thought it was Troy Polamalu with the scoop and score.

This game featured a ton of penalty markers as the teams combined for 151 penalty yards. You can atone for some of those penalties on third down, and Army did that on Saturday: 9 of 14 on 3rd down 3/3 on 4th down. Buffalo's 2 of 13 on 3rd and 4th downs adequately reflects Army's defensive efforts on the day.

Kelvin Hopkins option mixed in with the punishing inside run game is turning out to be a really powerful rushing attack. Just ponder what kind of team it is that needs a 5 fullback rotation. Against Buffalo, Army ran 70 offensive plays and the fullbacks handled the ball on about 40% of the team's plays. When Army's offense gains momentum in the second half of games it's the ball control offense and the depth at fullback that really breaks down the opposing defense. Through 5 games the fullbacks have run for 875 yards and 11 TD's.

Army turned up as #1 on both third and fourth down conversions.

               #1                                       #1
   44 82 53.7 16 18 88.9

Army and Buffalo will take a year off before their last scheduled football game in 2020. the 2014 Buffalo game was Coach Monken's first win as Army coach. I'm all for continuing the Buffalo series. UB makes for a short road trip, it's a reasonable in-state rival and the games have mostly been closely contested.

The Buffalo Bulls remain 4-1 and atop the MAC East standings.

Here's the Army Buffalo Story, Stats and Highlights



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