Sunday, November 5, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army Smacks Air Force on the Road

Wow!  I did not see that coming.
I'm not sure how much analysis is needed when one team knocks the snot out of the other team, but here goes.
The Class of 1995 got involved early, with classmate Lisa helping the local chapter of AOG set up the tailgate.  From what I heard, the tailgate was excellent, with the Supe Daddy doing his best to fire up the crowd.

Classmates Brian & Fred with their wives/fiances. 
The Supe fires up the crowd.
On the football field, Army's defense got a huge boost from the expected return of firstie S Rhyan England from a knee injury and the unexpected but thrilling return of yearling CB Elijah Riley, back from some kind of academic suspension.  

These guys' return improved Army's team defense immeasurably.  England is the captain of Army's secondary, the guy who gets everybody in position.  Army's secondary has given up some big plays without him back there, almost from the moment he got hurt during the Ohio State game.  From the very first defensive play, though, we could see that his return was going to be a big deal.  Riley, meanwhile, is Army's most athletic cornerback, a literally irreplaceable player in a unit that has struggled all season to cover top-end receivers down the field.  With these two guys in place, Air Force struggled to run outside all game, and although they completed a few long passing plays on desperation downs, Army also got a few coverage sacks, too.

For only the second time this season, Army's defense actually looked like the Army defense.

It's worth noting that the return of England and Riley both appears to have pushed DB Jaylon McClinton off the field.  That surprised me because McClinton has been a really good player this season, especially at safety.  However, the TV announcers noted that CB Cam Jones was in there opposite Riley, and James "Gibby" Gibson was in opposite England.  Army's website lists safeties Max Regan and Mike Reynolds as additional participants, so I'm not sure where that leaves McClinton.  He's too athletic to sit too long, I'd imagine.

Air Force March-On.
My old room-dog Brian with his fiance Jen.
Falcon Stadium
 Army got the ball to start the game and went straight to work.  Army's first drive went five plays for 75 yards and a touchdown.  QB Ahmad Bradshaw carried twice for 69 yards and scored.  He was absolutely electric out there.

Air Force got the ball next and moved it okay.  They drove to within range of a long field goal but missed it in very windy conditions.  Then Bradshaw went back to work.

Bradshaw finished the day with 23 carries for 265 yards and a touchdown.  That is 11.5 yards/carry!  He put the team on his back and carried them to victory.  Honestly, it was one of the most dominating rushing performances I've ever seen.

To put this another way, Air Force came in with a plan on defense.  They wanted to stop Army's fullbacks.  And they did.  FB Darnell Woolfolk carried 17 times for 54 yards (3.2 yards/carry) and a few notable first downs.  FB Andy Davidson had 2 carries for 5 yards.  FB Connor Slomka had 1 carry for 2 yards and a critically important first down.  Even SB Kell Walker got frustrated between the tackles a few times, though he finished with 15 carries for 67 yards (4.5 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns.  But the Falcons only rarely accounted for Bradshaw, and with his ability between the tackles, that was absolutely deadly.  Notably, the Falcons got to Bradshaw twice, and both of those plays became option-pitches to Kell Walker for touchdowns.

Army ran at will, Air Force couldn't sustain drives, and that was your ballgame.  The Black Knights held the ball for 35:20 and got 20 first downs to the Falcons' 12.  They held a very potent Air Force offense to just 184 yards of total offense and 0 points.

That is simply incredible.

We're back at Michie Stadium next week for the last home game of the season.  The Duke Blue Devils (4-5) are coming to town, and they badly need a win if they want any chance at bowl eligibility.  A quick glance at their stats tells me that their offense has struggled, but that they have the 40th ranked rushing defense in FBS college football.

Should be a good game.

Go Army!  Beat Duke!!!

1 comment:

  1. Brian dropped the following additions on FB:

    “A few quick comments:
    1. Great to see Fred and Eusi at the game and Mark on Friday! AF needs to step up their cell coverage so we can link up easier.

    2. Kell Walker ran a LOT between the tackles. He also went to the short side of the field when he went for an edge. He had decent production there, but he is much more dangerous on the outside as we saw with his touchdowns.

    3. I was worried right before our missed field goal at the start of Q2. We let the clock run out at the end of the quarter, I assume because the wind was in our face. During the quarter break, the wind completely switched and was swirling and blowing sideways in the stadium. The flags on either goalpost were blowing in opposite directions. We had a good, firm, low kick, but still banged it off of the right upright. I'll cut our kicker some slack for that. Outside of that kick, though, our special teams continued to be outstanding. Our kicking game is an incredible improvement over last year!”