Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Army Football Preview: vs. Fordham

That was some drubbing on Saturday.  I thought in the early going that Army might have a chance, but a bad snap went over the punter’s head, and then Army’s kicker botched a chip-shot field goal.  After that, the game was never in doubt.  This year’s Black Knights are not the kind of team that can come from behind.  In the second half, Western Kentucky looked like world-beaters.  Well, we knew it was gonna be a shoot-out.  Army needed to run the ball, score points, and manage time of possession successfully, and for most of the first half they did exactly that.  However, giving up a short field early was not on the program, nor was allowing a 50-yard Hail Mary to go for a touchdown right before the half.  This year’s Army team has been maddeningly good in spots, but they are an inconsistent bunch playing a style of football that requires a high level of consistency.  They have heart and athleticism, but they make mistakes and can’t overcome them.

The over/under on Army’s success this season started at four games.  This Saturday is Senior Day at West Point, and as luck would have it, Army is going for its fourth win.  They face FCS Fordham, and it promises to be one of the better games of the year.
After nine games, I feel like we know what the Army team is.  They move the ball well most of the time, but the defense is prone to collapse at the end of games, and they are prone to mistakes.  They aren’t good against inside pressure from opposing D-Lines, and we’ve seen at least one botched center-quarterback exchange in every game.  Teams are no longer finding the kind of room throwing over the middle that they had earlier in the season, but that’s only because bigger teams have realized that they can out-muscle Army in the trenches.  Army gave up 300 yards rushing to a single player on Saturday!  And yeah, the triple-option looks great when it’s working, but Army has had trouble sustaining drives because of penalties.  Meanwhile, inconsistent play from their kicker means that even gimme field goals aren’t.  
All of that makes it tough to win.
I still think the team has been better this season despite the fact that the record is the same as it was last year, but one has to look closely to see the improvements.  Over the past few weeks, Coach Jeff Monken has been slowly moving his younger players—his guys—into the starting line-up, so at least one can hope that there are reasons to be believe going forward.  However, that won’t win football games now, nor will it beat Navy in December.
The Fordham Rams

By contrast, Fordham has had an excellent season.  The Rams may not give out scholarships, but they are 10-1, they beat Georgetown 52-7 just last week, and they have yet to lose a game in the Patriot League.  Against Georgetown, QB Peter Maetzold went 15/19 (79%) for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns.  The Rams amassed 496 yards of total offense while holding the Hoyas to 251, including a mere 80 yards passing.  If there’s one bright spot for Army, it’s that the Rams gave up 102 yards rushing to Georgetown, so perhaps the Black Knights will be able to find success on the ground.  Still, although Fordham is an FCS program, they are a talented, disciplined bunch, and they will almost certainly give Army all it can handle.
I did CTLT with the
10th Mtn Division.
Army is wearing the 10th Mountain Division patch for this weekend’s game, which will be shown on the CBS Sports Network.  Kickoff is at noon.  I’ve not seen a line on the game, presumably because it’s an FBS versus FCS contest, but if I was setting the line, I’m not at all sure that I would favor Army despite the fact that Army is from the FBS.  This weekend’s game should be an interesting test for the Army team in that it’s against a school that’s neither bigger nor faster but which may well be more talented.  If Army does well, we will have learned something.  Conversely, if they get blown out on Senior Day in their own building by a school that doesn’t even give scholarships, well, that will show us something, too.
Emma and I are going to the game on Saturday, but Sally and Hannah aren’t, and it’s perhaps worth noting that I haven’t been able to even give our spare tickets away as of yet.  This season may have started with a lot of hype and hope, but it seems like the air has been blown out of the building since then.  *sigh*  Did I mention that I went to Fordham?  I did my MBA there, graduating in 2006.  I even carried the guidon for the Business School at the University’s Commencement that year.
Anyway, from where I sit, this is a game that Army needs to win.  With a win, they regain momentum and confidence heading into the Navy game.  If they fail to show up, however, there won’t be any excuses.  That’ll be the second time against an FCS school just his season, and that’s a bad mark to have on your first-year coach’s record.  
We’ll be there cheering them on, and that’s all we can do.

No comments:

Post a Comment