Army 1-0

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Army squeaked out a hard fought win over a surprisingly strong Rice University football team last Friday night. Rice brought a good defensive game plan and some real toughness up to West Point, but the Owls faded in the 4th quarter in what became Army's first win of the 2019 season.

Rice stuffed Army's offense with a lot of what looked to me like Rich Ellerson's Double Eagle flex defense.
Early into the 2nd quarter the Cadets were finally able to string some plays together. Army paged through the playbook and tried a little bit of unbalanced formation.
Rice seemed uncomfortable shifting out of the Double Eagle in a 3rd and long situation. Army's next series saw the Black Knights shift back into the Flexbone and attempted a first down run and a second down pass. Rice stuffed the run and the pass play flew out of bounds. The Owl defense played with great confidence and looked more aggressive every play.

With Army at midfield facing 3rd and 9 Rice's defense switched into a 4-4 Spy. Army OC Brent Davis had the right play call and Army burned the Owls for the Black Knights' first long run of the season. Christian Hayes' 35 yard end-around scamper set Army up in Rice territory. Two plays later Kelvin Hopkins was hit as he threw - but Hayes brought the ball in for a first and goal - setting up the first score of the game.    7-0 Black Knights

On Army's next possession Rice showed a mix of the Double Eagle, that 4-4 Spy and some kind of 5-3 front which combined to force an Army punt.

The Owls had a tough time kicking for points as the Rice placekicker missed two important field goals - one from 26 yards and one from 44 yards.
Rice's punting really made this one a game as Army's average starting field position for this one was their own 13 yard line. That is a test for any defense, but on this night the Black Knights D shut Rice down time after time.

Army's inside game was largely shut down by Rice - it seemed like as soon as Army's run game (finally) got things going inside  - they coughed up the football after making some decent gains.

On their last drive, Army faced the Double Eagle D almost exclusively and they dipped a little bit further into the playbook, building off of some of the offensive plays they had shown earlier in the game and using presnap motion to expose the middle of the defense.  The 4th quarter truly belonged to Army and they gave a little reminder of how they operated all of last year. Army had the ball for 10:15 of the last period including a game winning drive that lasted 9+ minutes. Rice was in this one the whole way - they looked really solid on defense - first with their strong Double Eagle defensive set and mixing in other defenses once they thought they had Army beaten on the inside.

Army has got to hold the ball for more than the 33:13 of possession they had. That's how they can keep the tough games close and keep the close games tough. The Cadets seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

Kell Walker brought in the game winning 17 yard touchdown pass which put QB Kelvin Hopkins passing totals for the evening at 3/8 for just 53 yards and one touchdown.

Artie Hobbs, Christian Hayes and Kell Walker each had one reception in the game.

Hopkins led the team in rushing with 21 runs for 81 yards and a score with FB Sandon McCoy right behind with 20 carries for 70 yards.

If you don't think this team has something cooked up for Michigan then you haven't been paying attention to Army's results in the past two years.

Army has the second longest winning streak in the country at 10 games.

The Black Knights also have won 14 straight home games - that's Army's second longest home win streak - second only to the impressive 39 game win streak at Michie Stadium from the years 1925 to 1931.

The win in the 2019 opener bumps Army's all time record on opening day to 98-29-3.

Here's the Rice / Army story, stats, highlights and replay.




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