Sunday, September 11, 2016

Post-Game Thoughts: Army vs. Rice

That was a great game yesterday

My buddy Brian came up from Ft. Knox.  Brian was my roommate for all of Firstie year, first when we were on staff in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment (out of Company E-1) and later when I talked my TAC into letting me be the "Company Historian," at which point I personally spent a lot of time working on the "Viking Yellow Press," a company newspaper that my buddy Matt and I started as cows.  I don't remember what Brian did that semester, but in both cases, I think our primary focus was on drinking beer at the Firstie Club.  Brian and I also served together in the 4-64 AR at Ft. Stewart, Georgia.

We've been friends a long time.

Tailgating for Brunch.
Cooking out on Thayer Roof.
Go Army!
We left the house about 7:30 and got to the Academy right at 9:00.  Stopped briefly at the Gift Shop for souvenirs and because my daughter Hannah's birthday is coming up, and then we drove on post without issue.  I park on Thayer Roof, and that is where we set up our tailgate, overlooking the Hudson River.  It got hot early, but we had plenty of space, and you can't beat that view.  We made scrambled eggs with tomatoes, onions, cheese, oregano, and chorizo sausages, bolstered by some potato wedges left over from Friday night's dinner and a bit of Earl Grey tea.  We reluctantly left the beer at home, based both on the forecast temperatures and our hangovers from the previous evening.

It was Branch Week at the Academy, and Brian, who just got selected for full-bird Colonel, absolutely had to stop by and talk to the Tankers and Cav Scouts manning the M-1 and Stryker displays, respectively.  I listened politely, but I've been out long enough to have--essentially--no idea what they were talking about.  The Armor School is now at Benning, and it's apparently run as a subsection of the Infantry School.  This not only makes no sense to me, it's changed the way Armor Branch does business so completely that the branch itself is now almost wholly unrecognizable.

Brian took this shot of the Fly-By.
Jumping in the flag.
Rabble Rousers
We headed up the hill alongside some guys from the Class of '71, who were on post for their 45th reunion.  Those guys were badasses.  As we walked, Brian and I both mentioned how much we want to be able to do the march back from Beast Barracks with our 50th anniversary affiliate class, the seemingly far-future Class of 2045.  The guys from '71 are only five years away from that, and they all looked like they were more than ready for the challenge.  Staying fit that long is, to me, a compelling long-term goal.

The game played out about like I expected, with an added note that the heat was a significant factor.  Army struggled a bit to run in the middle, but Rice had to commit completely to stopping the Fullback Dive.  This opened up the pitch and especially the quarterback keeper.  Bradshaw ran really well, and when Chris Carter spelled him, you could see the effect of fresh legs in that 100-degree heat.  They never did punch through in the center with the fullback the way they did against Temple, but when Davidson managed to get outside with the Dive, that almost always resulted in big gains.  I'll say as well that Rice's defense never wore down, despite the heat and Army's time-of-possession.  Rice was just over-matched, and their offense didn't give them any help.

On defense, Army played really well, save for two long plays where I assume someone missed an assignment.  Rice QB Tyler Stehling also left a few long passing plays on the field; he consistently overthrew his receivers down the field.  Some of this was down to pressure, I think, but a lot of it was just inaccuracy from the quarterback.  To my eyes, it looks like Army needs to find a way to bring pressure more consistently, or the team is going to continue to be at risk of giving up long passing plays.  That's not a new problem, but it's going to become a legitimate concern eventually.

More jumping...
Obligatory selfie in front of the team.
Rice took a knee in front of the Corps, I think as a Kapernick-style protest of
our Nation.  We sang the Anthem before the parachute demonstration, so
it wasn't quite the debacle it could have been, but this got booed--as well it might.

What a bunch of assholes.  Protest the military the day before 9/11 at West Point.
No shame, and zero points for style.  And you lose 31-14.  That's poor.
Overall, my take is this: Yes, it was good to get a win, but I didn't think Army dominated quite as completely as the score and the statistics make it seem.  They did a lot right, but they were also aided by several costly mistakes on the other side.  Granted, when you control the ball and avoid turnovers, you put yourself in a position to take advantage of the other team's mistakes.  The game nevertheless struck me more as a war of attrition than as a straight-up ass-whupping like we saw against Temple.  I'll take it, though, and gladly.

We're on to UT-El Paso next week for a high altitude game in the desert against a newly-installed spread offense.  I suspect this one will be a significant challenge, and if Army can't get consistent pressure on the quarterback, the secondary may be in for a long day.

Go Army!  Beat UTEP!!!


  1. Just a heads up, most opponents go into the end zone in front of the Corps to pray before a game. Wasn't exactly a protest. The Corps booed because we're assholes.

    1. A couple of my classmates objected to this characterization as well. I certainly didn't mean to besmirch anybody's reputation, and if I did that, I apologize. I will say that I've never seen any team prayers before games that looked anything like this, but what do I know? It's entirely possible that I wasn't previously paying attention. This particular incident struck both me and my buddy Brian as weird. That doesn't mean that malice was intended.

      The only thing that annoys me is that I purposefully put this in a tiny caption in small font at the bottom of the article, and yet, it's all that anyone wants to talk about. Granted, I've never been good at steering my audience's interest, but still... The omelet recipe was more interesting in my opinion, and the game certainly was, and yet here we are.