Saturday, September 3, 2016

Quick Thoughts: Army vs. Temple

First off, that was a terrific win!  It was a brilliant effort against a worthy opponent in a stadium that had previously been a House of Horrors. 

We said before the game that if Army could limit Temple's running game and force QB P.J. Walker to try to win with his arm, that there might be some opportunity there.  Temple actually ran well, especially between the 20s, but Army's defense stiffened near the goal line, forcing fields goals--and one turnover--and that was the difference in the game. With Army scoring touchdowns while Temple kicked field goals and punts, the Owls eventually had to shift to a hurry-up offense, and that's when we the the Black Knights' defense really come up big. LBs Andrew King and Kenneth Brinson both had picks late, icing a fifteen point road win against what had previously been an emerging college football powerhouse.

Stop for a moment, and consider what we saw.  Army's offense ran all over one of the best rushing defenses in the country. QB Ahmad Bradshaw allowed a strip-fumble early, but aside from that one gaffe, he played perfectly mistake-free football for four quarters against a team that had both the talent and the time to prepare for and stop the triple-option. This was not because of trickeration or because Bradshaw personally had a breakout night or because Army somehow managed to exploit Temple's secondary with WR Edgar Poe.  In fact, the best thing about Bradshaw's game is what he didn't do, he didn't rush for 150 yds between the tackles. Instead, he distributed the ball and ran the offense--masterfully. 

By God, Ahmad Bradshaw played a brilliant game!

I'm happy for him. It's no secret that he's had his struggles at West Point. Despite the fact that he's a cow, last year was his first year in Army's offense, and like a lot of us, he's faced some tough times in his Academy career, times when he wasn't sure that he was actually going to graduate. Now, every Grad will know what that's like because West Point is hard enough that at least some self-doubt is absolutely inevitable. Learning to over come the dark times is an integral part of the cadet experience. What we saw last night, then, was the emergence of a leader. Again, every Grad will know what how that feels. I'm happy for Bradshaw because he struggled on a big stage. Now he has triumphed on one, too.  

The same could be said of the entire Army football team.  Last year, they had talent but no experience. It showed. But last year's plebes are now battle-tested yearlings, last year's patchwork secondary is now a team strength, and last year's standout linebackers are this year's team captains. 

There is no experience at West Point that is more important than overcoming adversity. Winners win, no excuses. 

Last night, this team became winners. 

Final thoughts:
--Temple's offense ran wild until Army started blitzing in the second quarter. This was only possible because of the improvement of safeties Rhyan England and Xavier Moss.

--This was the best game we've seen from Army's OLBs in many, many moons. We've been expecting a breakout game from class-leader Kenneth Brinson, last year's star recruit. However, Alex Aukerman also played very well indeed.  This was his best game as a Black Knight.

--When the Fullback Dive works, the triple-option works. Army got good push in the middle and blazing speed on the outside. At least three fullbacks and SIX slotbacks carried last night. We got good production out of both groups, especially out of SB Jordan Asberry.  Bradshaw scored on a QB-follow play early in the 3rd quarter, but what he really did was distribute the ball. That's key.

I can't wait for Rice now.  

Go Army!  BEAT RICE!!!

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