Sunday, September 24, 2017

Army Screws the Pooch at Tulane

Riddle me this: how do you rush for 371 yards, gain 22 first downs to the opposing team’s 15, and own time of possession 39:18 to 20:42, and still lose?
That shit ought to be impossible.
Like last year’s North Texas game at Michie Stadium, Army won 75% to 80% of the snaps in this game, but it lost on 3 individual plays in such disastrous fashion that it cost them the game.  Outside of those three plays, Tulane gained 210 total yards, completed 45% of its passes, and gave up a healthy 5.4 yards/carry to Army’s offense.
In just two plays, the Army defense gave up almost 150 yards rushing themselves, along with two touchdowns.  Bradshaw also threw a God-awful interception in the end zone to cap an otherwise flawless drive late in the game that would have given the Black Knights a chance at going up by two scores.

I’d like to say that the big plays were breakdowns in coverage, or that maybe without S Rhyan England, the Army defense let itself get out of position a few times.  Maybe that’s true.  Certainly, they lost contain in the running game often enough, not just on the big plays but on that last drive as well.  Really, though, this is three weeks in a row that we’ve seen this defense get gashed that badly on the ground.  Buffalo torched Army for big plays three times, and it nearly cost Army the win.  Ohio State got loose relentlessly, and if that maybe owed to the athletic differential between the teams, well, we saw that same differential on full display yesterday, too.  S Max Regan took a bad angle on that second long run, and no one on the Army defense had the speed to recover.
That’s this team’s reality.  If they want to win games, they must play sound defense.  They don’t have the horses to recover when they get out of position.
If they don’t play sound--all the time--they are not gonna win.
Folks yesterday were saying that Army had regressed to its 2015 form, when they lost umpteen gaves by a touchdown or less.  Personally, I thought they looked a little more like the 2014 team, when they had QB Angel Santiago and FB Larry Dixon running a decidedly competent offense, but they had to score a million points to even have a chance.  That team’s defense gave up a ton of long plays, too, and it couldn’t ever hang for four full quarters.
If Army keeps playing defense this way, then their offense needs to be perfect, and this offense is nowhere near perfect.
There’s nothing else to say except to note that Navy won, and Air Force lost a close game to #22 SDSU.  Duke beat UNC pretty convincingly, while North Texas beat UAB.  So the other guys are all still working.  Meanwhile, between academics and injuries, Army can’t even keep its players on the field.
After four games, P(wins) has become a decent representation of who these teams are.
Key take-away: Navy & AFA are both much better than advertised.
Army may get right this week against UTEP, statistically the very worst team in FBS college football.  But they no longer have any margin for error.  They needed the game against Tulane.  Now they’ll have to really get their shit together if they want to make it back to a bowl game.  And if they want to beat Navy, they absolutely cannot play the way they’ve played these last three weeks.  That just won’t get it done.
Go Army!  Beat UTEP!!!

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