Sunday, December 13, 2015

Final Thoughts on Army-Navy 2015

That was a tough game to watch.

Army entered the contest as 22-point underdogs, and even with the lead at half-time, I didn't truly believe that they were going to win.  After thirteen--now fourteen--years of disappointment, buying into Army Football's success is a perilous exercise.  Our family strategy was to put the game on while we trimmed the Christmas tree by way of distraction, but the game itself was so exciting that we left the ornaments sitting forlornly on the floor while I paced frantically and screamed at our TV.

I think I scared my kids a little, but oh well.  It's Army-Navy, and we can afford therapy if necessary.

Can we move past all this talk of Keenan Reynolds deserving the Heisman now?  I mean, yeah, his farts smell like rose-water, and he's going to serve--for at least two years!!!--in the Navy's elite Information Systems service.  Whatever.  We all saw that in a continuous stream from the announcers on TV.  If you're on the USS Eisenhower, let me know how Reynolds does fixing your router.  Meanwhile, Reynolds's play was simply not Heisman caliber.  After one good run and one good throw, Army's 77th ranked defense shut him down.  You could actually see the fear on his face as Navy headed into the locker room for half-time.  This was not Vince Young in the National Championship, people, or even Tim Tebow in his many, many victories over Tennessee.  This was an excellent Navy team getting beat at the line by an undermanned but overachieving Army defense.  Heisman voters were not impressed.

One of many iconic trolling picks from the pre-game.
Don't get me wrong.  Reynolds is a good player, and Navy has its best team in decades this year.  They have TEN senior starters on offense, and they've beaten a lot of quality opponents.  By contrast, Army has two, both on the O-Line, and neither has been able to stay consistently healthy.  FB Matt Giachinta also started at the beginning of the year, but he lost carries over time and became more of a situational player.  That's fine.  It happens to the best of us.  However, Army's quarterback, two of its best three tailbacks, one of its best two fullbacks, and several of its starting O-linemen this season are all plebes.

You think Chris Carter played well?  This was his second start.  Ever.  He made one bad read in the option, a bad throw that got intercepted, and--maddeningly--he dropped two snaps, losing one.  With all of that, he still had Army at Navy's 40 with two-minutes left and a chance to win the game.  It's not his fault that Monken called the world's stupidest halfback pass.  With two minutes, what Army really needed was to run the clock down a lot further and then try to throw for the end zone.  But they got greedy, and it didn't work out.  Not to mention the fact that if they'd scored there, they were going to leave Navy almost two minutes to come back and kick a field goal to tie the game.  Nothing about that sequence was good.

Enough.  This was a fun season at times--it was even fun at times last night--but Army still went 2-10.  They're young, and this was a rebuilding year (again), but they still underachieved, and speaking as an Army Season Ticket Holder, it was extremely tough to watch.  Army Football is like penance for West Point graduates.  The Academy can't haze you anymore, but they can still test your emotional resilience on a weekly basis through the football team.  Bad snaps, errant passes, bad play calling, busted coverages over the middle of the field...

Fuck you!  I am still resilient.  My spirit is not broken.

Go Army!  Beat Navy!!!  Bring on 2016!

Army Football's 2016 Schedule, via FBSchedules.Com
We're gonna open next season with a loss at Temple, but after that, this team could very easily win its next four.  We'll learn a lot by how they play at home against Rice and on the road against UTEP.  Probably not going to beat Duke at Duke, though.  Lafayette is a win, and we ought to beat North Texas in Michie Stadium.  The Mean Green was even worse than Army this year.  Then we have a game at Wake Forest, which promises to be tough.  Like Army, Wake is young, and they've won two close games in a row in this series.  Then Air Force and Notre Dame come to Michie, followed by the Morgan State Bears.  Maybe Army can beat Air Force?  Who knows?  I doubt they'll beat the Fighting Irish, though.

Even with the Notre Dame game, that schedule is not quite as tough as this year's was.  Army ought to be somewhere around 6-6 heading into Navy next season, and what's weird about that is that it's a 13-game season!  What the Hell...?

If we can stop fumbling snaps, next year's Army team has a legitimate shot at a bowl game and a win over Navy.  It's been awhile since we could say that, but it's still a long ways off.

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