Army 5-2

Thursday, October 25, 2018

In a game of slim margins, leaving points on the field will wreck you. I would never compare anyone on the Army coaching staff to Dave Wannstedt, but this is just the kind of thing that Wanny used to do to piss games away. Let this one go to show: you can't win a game in the first half alone. Army's coaching staff loves to gamble, and no gambler can win em all. Army tried for a touchdown at the end of the first half - got stuffed - and left some points down there in the red zone. I don't have any problem involving J. Abercrombie at that stage of the game to try a short field goal in a lower pressure  scenario. Sure this offense should be able to come out of the first half with the touchdown, but Army won the coin toss and could take the 3 points and still get the ball back in the 2nd half. The tendency to gamble can be distressing, but to this point of the season the Cadets have been extremely successful in their 4th down conversions, so you can't really fault Jeff Monken for wanting 7. If you're taking notes: the smart money is on kicking for 3.

3rd quarter the lack of the play action pass exposed a lot of what Army has been relying on this year. With no pass threat the Miami safety kept keying the tail motion and continued to vault himself into the run support. Prior to Miami, and with Kelvin under center, if an opposing safety showed this trend the play-action would even out that safety-cheat real quick. With a first-time starter, I guess it isn't prudent to challenge that safety over the top. They tried it once, but that safety #49 was able to recover enough to make a play. I understand that you can't just air it out with  QB #4- but when this happens you're allowing that safety to make up for a lot of linebacker mistakes to the edge and as an offense you're giving that player a chance to negate great individual plays from the offense. Army instead attacked that safety's jump with the fullback which is a good play, but it doesn't freeze that safety. The play action pass keeps the safety honest and you get the added bonus of the chunk of yardage when it's successful. If Kelvin was in the game he may have had a career day passing against that aggressive backfield.

When you're up by 14 with 5 minutes to play there should be no question about the outcome of the game. To this point in the season the offense has forged the identity of this team. They average 40 minutes of offense - well they were close to that with 36 minutes. This is the closest that anyone has come to running clock on Army - and Miami didn't look particularly good doing it. Their rushing attack was nonexistent, 56 yards rushing for Miami QB Gus Ragland and the rest of the team had 21 yards rushing. Granted they were playing from behind in the second half, but when Miami needed plays, somehow their passing game came through.  I want to suggest that there is a very small margin of error for Army's offense to control a game, but Army had the Redhawks caged in for most of the game. Just to take this one to overtime, Miami needed zero turnovers and happened to convert 7 of their 9 fourth down conversions. Since they were down early they abandoned the running game and relied solely on their passing attack. If Army gains 3 more first downs in the 2nd half I think they win this one kneeling on the ball, but it took Miami every ounce of luck to play their way into this one. Army's defense did well and put the team in position to win several times. Conversely, if the offense held the ball for 5 more minutes in the second half we're probably talking about a 31-14 Army win.

Cam Thomas had to deal with 9 defenders in the box basically the entire game. Miami played the percentages and challenged Army to pass - but Brent Davis was more content using the inside run against the outside run to see if Miami could get caught up in the option guessing game. The problem came in that Miami was playing so tight in the box that if Army missed or couldn't sustain a block Miami had numbers in an environment of limited space. It looked like Army was trying to work some short cut block schemes into the zone runs and they kept it clean for the most part. The NCAA can try to legislate the option out of existence, but you're not going to keep an option coach from scheming plays out and solving the riddle. Army's cut blocks were hit and miss at times the sprawling linemen weren't able to cut off Miami's defensive flow - there were plays where the entire line cut blocked and the Miami defense sidestepped the blocks and swarmed to the ball. I would expect to see more, and more effective, cut blocking schemes if they face this kind of 9 in the box overload.

Army hangs on in the Chi Squared NCAA top 25. As the strength of schedule tails off in the coming weeks this top 25 ranking will likely wither away, so take a mental snapshot of Army in and among the FBS top 25.

Second week in a row that Army found themselves using one out of Paul Pasqueloni's playbook. This time it was a 3rd down shotgun draw play that I at first thought was a pass play, but the more I look at it I think this one was drawn up. WRs' blocking downfield, O Line absorbing pressure wide, but internally breaking loose to block. These guys are a freeze option team, and it is sensational.

Tim Ace Gun 35 Q Ice

One of the things that is really starting to piss me off are these leg-whip tackles that defenses are resorting to. Against Oklahoma, Liberty, Buffalo and now Miami (OH) defenders have been blocked out of the play, but have made tackles by throwing whatever they can at the runner. I've seen multiple instances of Army ball carriers being tripped to the ground when Army otherwise had open space.

Tripped up by Oklahoma

It's really disappointing that some of the refs Army has seen are so involved instituting new rules that they ignore actual dangerous and illegal plays that take place. It's one thing to have rules changes to make the game safer, it's another to put new rules in place that limit effective offenses - and then it's another thing to ignore actual rules that are in place just to screw the smaller team. Watch the Oklahoma game again - that's why big money coaches are afraid of this offense. And while the NCAA and rules committee clowns take effective, safe tools out of Army's repertoire they're missing dangerous and cheap plays like a blocked player tripping down a ball carrier. I don't need any more evidence, power 5 teams are afraid of a run game like Army's and instead of learning how to push back on the field they run crying to the rules committee. It's the old story of the privileged bully and if it didn't directly effect my personal enjoyment of each weekend then I would get a good laugh at the "Power  5" crybabies taking their football and running home. How about a compromise? Army can cut block within 15 yards of the LOS and defenders can legally trip a ball carrier. At least option teams get something out of that deal.

Army remains #1 for 4th down conversions on offense
#1 for Time of possession
#1 for Sacks allowed
#4 for 3rd down conversions offense
#9 for 3rd down conversions defense
#11 for Rushing Defense

The Cadets are fearsome at home, this one makes 10 straight wins at Michie Stadium. 10 wins in a row in any context is pretty amazing, but to have the home field magic going strong for a stellar sold-out homecoming crowd. The team deserves fans like these, and with a showing like the capacity crowd on Saturday - Army fans deserve a winner of a football team. Man, what a team this is!

Miami(OH) Army  story, stats, highlights and replay.



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