Sunday, September 30, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Lays a Whuppin' on Buffalo

Very satisfying game yesterday.  Big game on the road in front of a near sold-out crowd, and Army really needed to win.  They did.  They brought their best stuff for the most part, and they made it happen.

The team now heads into its bye week with a winning record against the toughest part of its schedule.  Commander-in-Chief's play lies ahead, as do a bunch of games against dangerous, under-performing teams, but at least right now, all is right with Black Knights Nation.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Gameday Headlines: at Buffalo

It's game day, folks!

If you missed Tuesday's Army Football Preview, it's here.  Let's get it on!

Friday, September 28, 2018

College Football Preview: What to Watch in Week 5

I’m so ready for this weekend.  This week has featured everything that I hate--fights with my wife, a pulled hamstring, abundant rain and flooding, and a plethora of high-stress / high-impact / quick turnaround-type work things.  And that’s only the stuff that has happened to me.
Waiting for the train this morning, my friend said, “So okay, tell me something good.”  I immediately went to college football because that’s the only part of our national public life that’s actually working.  Everything else is a zoo from which I would very much like to escape.
These are the games I’ll be following.  This list is culled from 506 Sports.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

#SBRLLR: Welcome to New York (Part 1)

“Cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real flesh and I myself am not a dream.”
―  Helen Keller, Midstream: My Later Life
I spent two weeks in temporary corporate housing while I familiarized myself with my new home.  They put me up in Jersey City, New Jersey, down by the PATH station near the banks of the Hudson River.  From there, I spent time exploring various parts of Manhattan and trying to decide where to live.  I toured Trump Tower, decided it was far too expensive for what it offered, and finally settled on a one-bedroom basement apartment in a brownstone in Hoboken.  My landlord turned out to be the local judge.  Her husband was a powerful corporate attorney working out of an office in Manhattan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Army Football Preview: at Buffalo

Four weeks into the season, the Black Knights are 2-2.  That’s not great, but it’s about where most fans expected the team to be.  Really, outside of their first half at Duke, they’ve played pretty well.  They couldn’t quite close with the Blue Devils after that shaky first half, but they came back to beat Liberty soundly and hand Hawaii their lone loss, and then they mighty Oklahoma a bad scare in their own building.  
Now the Army Team needs to find a way to win some games.
In fact, Army needs to win at least three of its next five.  Because only one FCS game will count towards bowl eligibility and because the Navy game comes after bowl invitations are announced, Army will need to carry at least five wins into the final three contests to ensure postseason play.  That’s doable, to be sure, but it makes this week’s game at Buffalo even more important.
Not that the game wasn’t already important.  Buffalo is a team on the rise, a potential favorite to win the MAC, and a regional recruiting rival within New York State.  Like all of Army’s foes this season, they come into this weekend’s tilt undefeated.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Goes Toe-to-Toe with Oklahoma

Well folks, I didn't think that game was gonna go like that, and considering that Fox Sports put probably the best game of the day on pay-per-view, where it was seen by maybe 50K people, I'm guessing that they didn't either.  It was a bad deal.  It's inexcusable, really, especially when the net result was to punish Army, the premier military academy for the entire nation and one of college football's most-storied programs.

I mean, Army played at Oklahoma, but it's still Oklahoma's Army.  West Point is Oklahoma's military academy every bit as much as it's New York's.  But somehow we didn't put the game on national TV.  As my grandfather would've said, "That don't make no sense."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#SBRLLR: Loneliness

“Because you can’t trust freedom when it’s not in your hand,
when everybody’s fightin’ for the Promised Land…”
― Guns ‘n’ Roses, “Civil War”
I drove over the Kosciuszko Bridge and into the heart of urban New Jersey late in the afternoon on August 5, 2001.  After almost a year out of uniform, I’d been offered a job in New York City and—with some trepidation—had decided to accept. The drive up from Tennessee had seen me through the rolling farmland of western Virginia and rural Pennsylvania, but population had picked up steadily as I worked my way east.  Halfway through New Jersey I began seeing the unique urban cityscapes I remembered from my Academy days.  It wasn’t until I hit the bridge, though, that New York Harbor came into view alongside the Statue of Liberty and Liberty State Park.  The glass and steel skyscrapers of Manhattan’s skyline emerged when I crested the next rise, beckoning me forward as they have so many others looking for a fresh start.  
I was badly in need of one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

College Football Preview: What to Watch this Weekend

Army plays at Oklahoma at 7 pm on Saturday on Fox Pay-Per-View.  The game costs almost $60.  Considering that the Sooners are favored by more than thirty points, I’m gonna say it’s probably not worth the price of admission.  Which sucks because Army plays these games almost solely for the purpose of putting its brand in front of a larger national television audience.  With the game relegated to PPV, that effort now seems wasted.  
What can you do?

My wife says we’re going to some kind of fall festival on Saturday afternoon.  The Alpaca Gnomes will be there.  But a week without Army Football is like a week without air.  Sure, there are other games, and after we get back from watching the Gnomes, I’ll probably watch at least one of them.  But none of the ones I’m listing below will have me screaming at my TV.  These are just the games that I’ll be following.
All times, channels, and betting lines are per ESPN.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Stands Tall Against Mighty Hawaii

I’m writing this on my phone as the church band practices this morning, but I probably won’t get a chance to post it until later this afternoon. My daughter Hannah is part of the Worship Team as, like, the Junior Singer. She sings a lot of backup, but they usually build at least one song around her, too. Alas, today she was just backup.  Anyway, she gets to sing, and that matters.  She’s not quite an elite talent, but she can usually get the congregation on its feet. That counts.

Army had a good game yesterday. I didn’t realize how well QB Kelvin Hopkins had played until I looked at the stats. He was 6/10 passing with a couple of critical downfield conversions and no interceptions. Notably, he threw the ball away when it wasn’t there, and he didn’t take a sack. I thought the pass blocking looked pretty good for the most part, even on obvious passing downs. That’s a big improvement for this Army team.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Final thoughts on Hawai'i and a few other things

In an oft underwhelming slate of home games, Army Football has a rare sizzler today.  The Black Knights are hosting the hottest team in college football, the Rainbow Warriors from the University of Hawai'i.  Army's actually favored in the game, and if you look at the stats, you can see why.  Bottom line, Army is very good at home, and the 'Bows look primed for a regression after a 5,000 mile plane trip.  I broke this down in some detail earlier in the week.


Hawai'i is undefeated, and they've looked absolutely bulletproof through three games.  A few websites are picking Army to win based on the betting line, but all the guys on CBS Sports Network picked Hawai'i, and I don't think anyone will be surprised if that's the way it goes.  I certainly wouldn't bet money on Army giving points.

I'm excited regardless.  You can tell because it's 6 am, and I'm sitting here writing this instead of sleeping.  Granted, I got in bed early last night, but I woke up just after five this morning thinking, "Is it time yet?"


I really enjoy football at Michie Stadium.  My daughter Emma and I are headed up, and I honestly can't wait.

Friday, September 14, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Ridin’ the Storm Out

Something happened on Wednesday.  The blog went viral in some way that hasn’t happened previously.  I think that a West Pointer somewhere--I’m guessing from a class in the mid- to late-1970s--saw my preview of the Hawai’i game on Facebook and sent it out to a bunch of his buddies in a monster email blast.  It propagated from there.  Alas, the event came without much in the way of statistics from Blogger’s traffic tracking pages, so there are a few other possibilities.  But some kind of email chain seems most likely.
Regardless, hello new readers!
Experience suggests that most of you will not stick around long, and that’s okay.  As I tell my own classmates, our friendship is not contingent on your reading my stuff.  The blog’s traffic has been growing over the years, but this isn’t a Get Rich Quick scheme.  It’s the way I entertain myself while I’m on Metro-North going back and forth from New York City.  
The blog is intentionally organized as a salad bar.  You take what you want and ignore the rest.  There is no one else on earth who also likes all the stuff that I like.  I get that.  You don’t have to like my stuff; you don’t have to like me.  It’s fine, really.  
Writing isn’t my career.  Some people build little ships in little bottles.  I write a blog.  It is what it is.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 5)

My dad retired from the Marine Corps at about the same time that the West Point Class of 1995 hit Branch Night.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Army Football Preview: Hawai’i

After a big win at home against Liberty last week, the Black Knights are back at Michie this weekend for an unexpected Death Match against the resurgent Rainbow Warriors from the University of Hawai’i.  Hawai’i has vaporized everyone they’ve played with the power of their rebuilt run-and-shoot offense, but for better or worse, this is a game that Army badly needs to win.  
With the way the schedule shakes out, the Black Knights will need five wins before the Lafayette game to ensure bowl eligibility.  This is because only one FCS game counts towards the requisite six, and Army-Navy happens after bowl invitations have already been issued.  With tough road games against Oklahoma, Buffalo, and an Eastern Michigan team that has finally learned to finish, Army’s margin for error has become razor thin.  The Black Knights therefore need to win now in order to hit the meat of their schedule on the upswing and to give themselves just the slightest bit of breathing room going forward.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Rolls Over Liberty

After last week's opener at Duke, yesterday's contest against Liberty University was just what Army fans needed to see.  Certainly, it was what I needed to see.  The Black Knights rang up 27 first downs and 510 yards of total offense, including almost 450 yards rushing.  Army got just over 250 yards from the fullback position alone.  The team has a couple of things to clean up this week, but there were a lot of good performances, too.

A few quick thoughts are below.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 4)

R___ was my favorite college girlfriend.  We were both committed athletes and both cadets, and if I hadn’t been such a pigheaded asshole about the nature of our relationship, I’m quite sure that it could’ve lasted.  As it was, we spent a lot of time together, dating in a traditional sense, going to local restaurants and just talking.  I enjoyed her company tremendously.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Army Football Preview: Liberty

I tried to be upbeat Saturday morning after the loss to Duke, but I’m starting to think that I might not have been concerned enough.  Yeah, Army lost to a tough opponent on the road, and it was a bad spot.  There were maybe a few signs of life from the offense.  So what?  The defense was actively terrible, and more to the point, the rest of the early schedule suddenly looks considerably more challenging than it did just a few weeks ago.  I’m a little concerned.
Most fans were counting on a 2-2 start with the road game at Buffalo essentially deciding what kind of season we’re facing.  I know a few folks were talking “perfect season” before the Duke game, but I never thought that, and anyway, did you see Oklahoma on Saturday?  The Sooners just masterblasted FAU.   Worse, we’ve now seen Hawaii twice, and they look phenomenal.  Otherworldly, even.   And this week’s opponent, Liberty?  The Flames just dropped 52 on Old Dominion.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army at Duke

Climb down off the ledge, Army fans.  Trust me, no one was more disappointed by last night's contest than I was, but it's not as bad as it looks.  Really, there are some positives here--along with a few basic takeaways.