Sunday, September 17, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army at Ohio State

Army looked competitive "at times" against Ohio State, but the game got out of hand quickly in the 3rd quarter after the missed 41-yard field goal.  In that sense, this was one of those games where we saw not only how far Army Football has come, but also how far they have to go.  It's not surprising, for example, that Army's defense couldn't stop the Buckeyes' rushing attack.  However, the Black Knights need to be able to make ostensibly simple field goals to be truly competitive in college football, and they need to be able to complete basic passing plays to wide-open receivers.

We've come a long way, but we still aren't there, yet.

What was most interesting about yesterday's contest was the way that OSU DC Greg Schiano refused to adjust his defensive scheme to account for the Fullback Dive, even when the dive was gaining big yardage.  Until yesterday, we've mostly seen defenses collapse into the center to keep Army's fullbacks from gaining umpteen yards on carry after carry.

Schiano, however, gave up those yards in the middle in order to play sound defense across the line-of-scrimmage, preventing QB Ahmad Bradshaw and SB Kell Walker from finding any room on the outside.  Without the occasional big pitch play, Army struggled to keep drives going, even when its fullbacks were gashing the Buckeyes repeatedly in the middle of the field.  You almost never see that!  But Schiano got away with it because: 1) his own defense never gave up a long play to Army's fullbacks, and 2) it's very, very hard to sustain drives when just one play is working.

This game didn't hurt Army statistically.  We are more-or-less where we were, though P(wins) looks a little more
realistic now that we've seen a diversity of opponents.
As much as anything, this was where we saw the talent disparity.  OSU couldn't cover everything, but they stayed sound across the board.  Meanwhile, Army needed to block perfectly in the middle over and over again to push forward, and they couldn't--quite--do it.

Beyond that, we're left to hope that the Black Knights aren't too badly injured before next week's contest at Tulane.  The spread is a pick 'em, and Army will need the win to secure bowl eligibility.  S Rhyan England's injury is of particular concern.  He was carted off in the second half, and not coincidentally, that was when Army's defense really started to struggle.

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