Army 4-2

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Update: added link to replay 

Sure we love the high powered offense when it's clicking like this. I will tell you what - this game could have been bad news early in the first quarter with Kelvin Hopkins being helped off the field with a lower body injury. I could wake up to a masked intruder in my bedroom and not be as terrified as I was watching Kelvin Hopkins making his way off the field. #8 took the next play off and then returned after San Jose got their 3 points of scoring out of the way.
Hopkins finished with 99 yards on 18 carries with 3 touchdowns running and one passing.

I don't know what they were keying on, but Army's defense seemed to expect a couple of San Jose State's run plays. Whether they heard the call and recognized it or if they saw a tip off in the Spartans formation, they smothered a pair of runs as if they knew the plays. The defense recognized some of SJSU plays and a little further along, I recognized one of Army's.

That passing touchdown to Jordan Asberry was just what the doctor ordered and I remembered a similar looking play from SJSU's game at Oregon earlier this year. Oregon ran the play out of a doubles left formation, Army ran it out of their base flexbone set - and both plays exploited the pitch defender looking into the backfield and getting scorched over the top. When I watched the Ducks throw theirs in week 3, I just knew it would be there for Army.

The other play I predicted was Syracuse's delay QB keeper which I remember from watching Big East games back in the late 1990s. I joked in the post below that freeze option concepts have crept into Army's playbook in the past 2 years starting with the counter QB keeper. Army's freeze sneak was the last play of the 1st quarter and I really wanted to believe that Brent Davis added that play in, but the replay clearly showed Kelvin Hopkins square out for a fullback mesh that never arrived giving the appearance of a freeze step before the 3 yard run into the line.

It's the kind of game you feel sympathy for your opponent - at least I did until the frustration got the best of SJSU. There is something about getting beaten that brings out the worst in some players. I'm over the punch to the face and the Spartan lineman's chickenshit diving display at the end of James Natchigal's TD return. I get Army wanting to play in California, but there are other teams playing in Cali who don't fall back on stuff like that.

I don't know what kind of media push San Jose State gets in terms of nationally televised games, but a game like San Jose State / Army gets picked up by the ESPN monopoly for national broadcast about once every 3 years. Maybe SJSU is comfortable doing that stuff under the ESPN spotlight,
I don't know, but that answered any character questions I had about San Jose State football. Now my only question is: why in the world was that game played at Levi's stadium?

When you litter your own field with pigskin and yellow flags like San Jose did that makes it very hard to impose your will on any opponent and win football games. SJSU coach said he thought his defense was battling even up through their third lost fumble. I guess so, to me it looked like Army was doing everything they planned to do and with relative ease. It's one thing to participate in the football game and it's a another thing to compete in the game. Turnovers didn't beat San Jose, those turnovers only made it a 50 point game - Army put it to San Jose State and won big on the road in every single phase.

This win needs to mean something for Army. This win should show that Army is out of that basement level of NCAA D1 teams. A glance at Soren Sorensen's Chi Square ranking shows Army rates as the #24 team in the country. That's probably higher than Army should be even on paper, but it's nice to see results come back in, so for now I'll keep an eye on Army's Chi Square ranking. The very nature of that rating system will likely keep Army in that top 20 to 30 range even if Army can win out.

It's hard to quantify what it means to have stability at the head coaching spot. Talk about turning a program around, Coach Monken has really grabbed this thing by the collar and formed his team into winners. Monken's record at the U.S. Military Academy is only now even at 28-28, but with the program's recent trajectory it really seems like Army has broken through to a new level of success. I don't think I could have imagined 10 win seasons for Army in my wildest dreams, especially after years and years of just trying to knock off Navy. There has been some good fortune around the team in some of its wins under this coaching staff, but a lot of the credit for Army's success goes to coaching. Frankly, I wouldn't want any other living, breathing coach to lead the team - and if we're lucky we'll have Jeff Monken and his loyal staff for many years to come. Sure, longevity has a lot to do with the stability of a coaching staff, but one thing that this staff gets right every time is that stability is made in the 'now'. Coaching carousel rumors will certainly crop up for Jeff Monken, and I'm hoping he remains on the hiring radar of NCAA athletic directors. Just remember when that happens (and it will) as fans we're not going to focus on rumors and job stuff; we've been coached to work on winning the next game - nothing else.

Army San Jose State story, statshighlights and replay.



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