Army 7-2

Friday, November 9, 2018

That shit don't fly

I get where the pranks come from historically, but it is always a poor decision to steal an animal.

Army football wins against Air Force are pretty rare, but Last Saturday made for 2 in a row for Jeff Monken's Cadets. Army is just 16-35-1 all time against the Falcons, and it feels even more lopsided recently, Army having just 6 wins in the series since 1987.
Air Force has absolutely owned Army for as long as I can remember.

Triple Option Football Academy features some great option offense X's and O's. Their video posts detail many of the nuances of the Paul Johnson option offense. Triple Option Academy listed this sheet of figures which absolutely blows my mind.

The two rankings that stand out are the 4th down conversion % and the time of possession ranking. We know Monken gambles on 4th down, and they're so good in short yardage that they can extend drive after drive by rolling the dice on 4th down. From that Triple Option Academy post:

"Army averages 4 fourth down attempts per game, which is #1 in the nation right now."

Triple Option Football Academy is a great resource for those trying to keep up with what it is that Army does so well, you can find a link to Triple Option Academy site the sidebar under CFB links.

Army averages 39 minutes of possession per game. 9 games into a season, that is just unbelievable. That's the kind of number I would imagine teams having if there was no play clock. If you ask me, that 39 minute T.O.P. average is the best evidence I can find that the world we all live in is actually a computer simulation. 40 minutes per game - that's 2/3 of any game - 2/3 of any season - spent pounding the ball. What this team can do over the football just defies belief, and I don't think they're through revealing their playbook.

Just look at what Army has done in the last 2 years.

Man, that is a lot of wins!

Here's what that visual can guarantee:

Well, it makes for three bowl bids in a row, that's a new level of success for Army. Also we can expect to hear Jeff Monken's name in more and more NCAA coaching searches. That is one uncomfortable side effect of that kind of success.

No Limit Hold-em

What a finish! With under 2 minutes to play, Cole Christiansen and James Nachtigal combined for two defensive stops on 3rd and 4th down to end a serious late game threat with Army leading by 3. That's all to the good, but once they earn the ball back and are facing 4th down one last time - the best option is to punt the ball in. I like that Monken is a gambler, but there has to be a point were this "analytics" sheet comes back to convention. I've seen a lot of woulda-shoulda 4th downs attempts at midfield, and it's a shameful way to lose a game. I can never advocate going for "extra" late-late in either half. There is always the Tecmo Bowl temptation to go on 4th down. With 17 seconds left preserving the lead is important and the best way to do that in that situation is to punt the ball away. Preserving the lead is one thing, but a bigger goal is stability at the coaching spot, and you can easily Ron Dickerson yourself by running a sneak at midfield with a hobbled QB.

The blackout uniforms looked nice, I wouldn't mind seeing these again against Navy. We're probably a few weeks away from any announcement on the Army/Navy uniforms.

Compared to all others, I think this is the #1 best Army football team ever.

Ok they're not going to win a national title, but the 2000's are a different paradigm than football in the 1940's. To have a chance at 10 wins in today's NCAA Div. 1-A is a remarkable achievement for a service academy. If today's team played the 1945 team it w These coaches need to be recognized as great - and whether or not they are recognized with awards  - they should be recognized in history as the greatest Army football coaches and staff of all time. Things change fast in college football fortunes, but I'm willing to debate that claim if anyone cares to challenge me on that.

Anyway, Lafayette is coming up to play. Their game notes are up.

Army Game notes

Lafayette Game notes

I'm always happy to find another eastern college football blog, and Ramblings from the Bench is a Lafayette themed blog written by veteran sportswriter Paul Reinhard.

He's got a few articles out there that may be of interest to Army fans. Here's a puff piece on Andy Davidson and his return to his backyard.

Some people might think he would be a bit disappointed because, after a sophomore season in which he gained 910 yards and scored nine touchdowns, his production has decreased each year. He had 627 yards and five TDs in 2017 and has just 44 carries for 176 yards and two scores this season for a team that is 7-2.They would be wrong.“I’ve been redefined every year,” Davidson said. “You do whatever you have to do to help the team win, and thankfully, I’m playing my part the best I can and we’re winning a lot of games." 

Very interesting write-up for Army fans.

Alright here are the Army/ Air Force story, stats, highlights and replay.


Army 6-2

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bowl bound Army has a nice ring to it. In a way back-to-back-to-back bowl bids signals a shift in what Army football plays for. The academies will naturally covet the Commander in Chief's Trophy, that is Army's measuring stick, and even though the Black Knights haven't kept up pace with the CIC competition over the years - that has always been their goal.

Bowl games have been so rare for Army football that until the last two years there has been virtually no postseason presence for Army. The expectation was never a bowl bid, and there were full decades where the Navy game was Army's chance at "post-season" redemption. The expectation of a bowl game every year is lofty; Army will eventually lose a game at home, and they shall lose some rivalry games and some road games -  maybe they drop a close one gambling on 4th down.... maybe they fumble a game away. Maybe they fumble two games away. It can all happen in some future season just like Army's bowl chances can be dashed by week 8. The 2018 Army team is built to win, and winning college teams play in bowl games.

We're looking at 3 straight years of bowl participation, and that can change the mood of a fan base. As for myself, I am just starting to get comfortable with the idea that Army routinely wins at football - Am I correct to expect Army to win? I think so. West Point crafts their own schedule, so winnable football games should be a common thing for Army. Would I be correct to expect a bowl game every year? No - I see the college postseason as a good team goal and a fine reward for the players and staff, but fans can sow a lot of disappointment by having inflated expectations of their favorite mid-major independent football team. I love that Army is attracting bowl interest, and I love that they have a post season bowl as one of the team goals. I don't think I will ever expect Army to go to a bowl year in and year out, but I will appreciate it when Army is selected. This will be the first time Army has made three straight bowl appearances. I think we all can agree that it's much more comfortable attaining bowl eligibility in week 9 as opposed to bowl selectors waiting for a 5-6 Army team to play Navy in mid December.

I have to say how much I like CBSSN's Army away game coverage. There was a time not too long ago where Eastern Michigan / Army games had so little TV interest the game at Ypsilanti might as well been played on the moon. This is the second time this year that CBSSN showed up for an Army away game and I appreciate CBSSN more and more every week. I noticed ESPN's poor camera work in the season opener at Duke - Television production can only expand so far and so fast, and with the ACC network ramping up television ops it's clear to me that ESPN has diluted its college football product.

Also - ESPN can't start the weekend with our favorite song.

Army got back to their deep freeze tactics. There were runs off the freeze, passes of the freeze, a new counter off the freeze. By the 4th quarter there was enough freeze that I thought Army might actually achieve ABSOLUTE ZERO. That's right, friends - 0° Kelvin.

Freezer Burn

Army offense kept things fresh in the game at Ypsilanti.  There was plenty of variety within each play. Army can pitch to the B back, they can also run inside with the slots . It looked like they had a few other wrinkles that maybe Kelvin Hopkins kept the ball instead of showing off their playbook. I'll let you know which one it was if they do end up running the play for real. I can't imagine a team that is harder to prepare for than Army. Just imagine the pressure that Army puts on their opponents. Opponents' offense needs to execute and move the football - defense needs to stop an offense that is sure handed, tricky and explosive. There were 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter in this one and Army already had 40 minutes of possession. It takes one hell of a 4th quarter to overcome that kind of dominance.

Army's opponents have had to play a perfect game just to hang with the Cadets. Eastern Michigan did not play a perfect game. The Eagles dropped passes and senseless penalties crushed the EMU early, and those are just the self inflicted things. EMU had a rash of injuries that didn't help their cause, and the entire first half belonged to Army. Army's 16-0 halftime lead was just as much a testament to the USMA defense as it was to the offense- Eastern had just 18 total first half yards (zero 1st downs).

It was nice to see Monken "take the points" on 4th down in the red zone. The coaches liked it so much they grabbed 3 short field goals in the first half. The win was Army's 10th straight home win, that's pretty special.

Here are the Army /Eastern Michigan story, stats, highlights, and replay.



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