Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Reading Room: Tell me why we played Stanford again?

It's been a few weeks since we've run a "reading room" post, so maybe now's the time to look around the Internet and see what's what.  I'm still a little sad and hung-over from Army's crushing loss yesterday, so we'll start there.

No. 15 Stanford rebounds from loss to USC, shuts out Army (ESPN)
"The defense might be as good any Stanford has had during its recent run of success...

[WR] Devon Cajuste caught a career-high three touchdowns and finished with 52 yards receiving, and Ty Montgomery had two TDs to help the Cardinal (2-1) overcome a sluggish start on offense. Stanford led 14-0 at the half before overwhelming the Black Knights (1-1) in the final two quarters.

The Cardinal outgained Army 415 to 207 yards."

I suppose the result wasn't a surprise.  I'd hoped for a little better showing from the Army Team, but the reality is that Army's defense and special teams played well.  Army was very much in this game until a fumble on their own 15-yard-line right before the half.  They couldn't do much against Stanford WR Devon Cajuste (6'4", 228 lbs), though, especially down in the end zone where he could go up for jump-balls over the heads of Army's DBs.  His touchdown late in the first half pretty much ended the game.

Still, it's Army's offense that is the problem.  They couldn't run a lick against that Stanford defense, which was #4 overall coming into the game and whose strength is stopping the run.  As you might expect, Stanford stopped Army cold, and as we've seen a lot in recent years, Army's offense put the ball on the ground in a few critical spots.  For as well as the defense played, for all that I think their play gives this team something to build on, Army won't go anywhere if it can't fix the fumbling problems.

The Army Team was overmatched.  Why did we schedule this game?

Army Athletic Director Boo Corrigan was on the radio right before the fateful fumble answering this very question.  He said a few things I thought were right on.  For one thing, he noted that cadets will do anything that you push them to do.  In this case, he and the Athletic Department were pushing the football team to take on the best in the world.  That's laudable, and the cadets themselves wanted to do it, to see what they could do against elite competition.  Also, playing a game like this puts Army's brand out on a national stage, which is (arguably) a good idea.  Granted, this particular game had minimal television coverage, and it wasn't available via radio streaming, but still...

To this, I would add one that Corrigan didn't mention, and that's recruiting.  Athletic recruits come to Army in at least two ways.  You get some who've always wanted to go to the Academy who just so happen to be elite athletes.  These are the ones that the Academy would probably prefer.  However, there aren't a lot of guys like that--certainly not enough to field a competitive Division I football team.  Using myself as an example, I wanted to fly fighter planes as a kid, but by the time my swimming career had taken off, I was only looking at schools that had a competitive swimming program that met my particular needs.  I'm quite sure that most football recruits look at it the same way.  One does not invest a decade in one's sport and then just throw it away right before getting the chance to play at the highest level possible.  No one does that.

The second way that Army gets elite recruits, then, is by offering them the chance to compete at an elite level.  For me, this meant getting the chance to go to not just the Patriot League championships but also to Easterns, which was a much bigger, faster meet back when I was a cadet.  For the football team, this means competing against the best in the world--at least occasionally.  This week, that meant playing #15 Stanford, with results that were predictable... but also disappointing because the players wanted to push themselves and make a better showing.

With that said, while the team itself was overmatched and blown out, not every player was.  Some of them played well, especially on defense.  Those guys now have some excellent tape that they can show NFL scouts.  Or maybe they just have memories of the time they played against the best kids in the world and stood their ground.  Regardless, future recruits will see the opportunity.  They can go to Army and still play.  To use an old phrase, they can go to the Academy and be all that they can be.

Sounds ridiculous?  Consider Robert Griffin III.  He is famously the son of an Army veteran, and he went to Baylor.  I don't know how his grades were, but in another life, I can easily imagine him choosing Army--if the chance existed to compete at the highest levels, at least occasionally.  Now, Army didn't land Griffin, but they might land somebody like him in the future.  To do it, however, they have to give that future star the chance to compete in the biggest games possible.

Six years hard labor in a North Korean prison camp.  Ouch.

Today's Sunday.  The game of the day in my house is...
I'd prefer the Giants to be good, but they're just not.  That offensive line is terrible, and Eli isn't good under pressure.  'Nuff said.

"Malaysia’s re­port­ed in­vi­ta­tion to the Unit­ed States to fly spy planes out of East Malaysia on the south­ern rim of the South Chi­na Sea seems like­ly to in­ten­si­fy Chi­na’s anger at Amer­i­can sur­veil­lance of the strate­gic wa­ter­way and its dis­put­ed is­lands, an­a­lysts say."

"Pivot to Asia" sighting!  The Administration must be thrilled that this made the papers.

I think I'm done.  Have a good Sunday.

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