Report Card: Army vs. North Texas

Army dominated an injury plagued North Texas team, 24-0, to post their most convincing victory in the Rich Ellerson era. Army's defense held the normally efficient North Texas passing game to just eleven first downs. A week after struggling with Hawaii's Run & Shoot passing offense the Black Knights' defense ruled the day as it posted their first home shutout since 1993.



North Texas

Trent Steelman had a solid day passing the ball as he hit 5 of 10 throws for 46 yards. Steelman completed all three passes on a touchdown drive early in third quarter that made it clear this was an Army day. His 12-yard pass completion to Austin Barr (2 catches for 18 yards) on third-and-11 was key play of that touchdown drive. Steelman made some good decisions to throw away the ball a few times when nothing was there but needs more consistent mechanics to improve his accuracy. Trent overthrew Davyd Brooks (one catch 12 yards) once. Then Steelman under threw him on a post pattern although Brooks probably should have made the diving reception. The line once again blocked well except when right tackle Jason Johnson allowed a sack by Ira Smith. Johnson blocked down and missed a blitz pick up that allowed a free shot at Steelman.
Trent Steelman had a very good game orchestrating the offense. His reads where spot on. His pitches were clean and timely. Steelman rushed for 68 yards. He made a nice cutback on his 20-yard touchdown run to score. The B backs didn't see a lot of daylight as North Texas stacked the box with the safeties just six yards off the line of scrimmage. Hassin, who is sore, wasn't his usual self as he rushed just five times for 17 yards. Jacob Bohn did a solid job splitting time with him and broke off a 19-yard run. Bohn finished the day with 39 yards. With the Mean Green selling out to stop the fullback the outside was open most of the day for the slot backs. Malcolm Brown rushed for 29 yards and scored on a fly sweep. Brian Cobbs showed his speed and broke tackles rushing for 75 yards and averaging over 10.7 a carry. Pat Mealy scored a touchdown and was on his way to a big game before being hurt. Third string plebe slot back Jon Crucitti blocked well and ran hard filling in for Mealy but didn't make any defenders miss him in open field. Blocking on the perimeter by both the slot backs and wide receivers is vastly improved from 2009. Too many short drives keep this from being an A but it's hard to complain about 292 rushing yards and 5.1 yards per carry.
Josh McNary was once again the best player on the field. He dominated the Mean Green tackles as he recorded two sacks, five tackles and one pass defended. The statistician didn't credit him with any quarterback hurries but he had a few and he also forced holding penalties. Jarrett Mackey (4 tackles, 1 sack,) showed his speed on the first series when he sacked Derek Thompson on a stunt. It was Mackey's hit later in game that knocked Thompson out of the contest. Mike Gann did a good job collapsing the pocket and posted a sack. Jordan Trimble was a surprise starter at free safety over Donovan Travis and had a terrific game. Travis had struggled at times against Hawaii. Trimble recorded nine tackles and an interception Trimble showed terrific recognition and speed on his first interception preventing a sure touchdown. He knocked down two other passes that he had a chance to intercept. Antuan Aaron had five tackles and dropped an interception. Donnie Dixon had a good game with four tackles and two passes knocked down. Richard King was back in starting lineup at cornerback and Army is a lot better covering receivers with him on field. To be sure North Texas has been decimated by injuries but they had entered the game averaging over 282 passing yards per game and Army held them to 106 passing yards. North Texas completed just 48.3% of their passing attempts.
Army's front seven did a terrific job limiting North Texas's talented running back Lance Dunbar to just 46 yards on 12 carries. Dunbar best effort of the day was called back because of a hold. I was surprised North Texas didn't try to establish Dunbar early since he ran for 132 last year against the Black Knights. For a perspective, as a starter Dunbar has averaged over 147 yards rushing a game. It was a terrific job up front. They did a nice job containing the quarterback Riley Dodge when he replaced the injured Thompson. Dodge had scrambled for 90 yards last year when he was the starting quarterback This year Army contained him in the pocket. Mike Gann dominated North Texas' injury plagued offensive line and recorded four tackles. Stephen Anderson had eight tackles and help stuff the inside running game. Chad Littlejohn had a nice open field tackle on Dodge on third-and-2 in open field to force a punt.
Punter Jonathan Bulls silenced his critics with an outstanding day. Bulls averaging 41.5 yards on his six punts. He placed two inside the twenty and blasted a 63-yard punt that just missed the coffin corner. Alex Carlton hit one of two attempts. He missed a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half that he didn't hit cleanly. Matt Campbell seems to lose steam on his kickoffs as the game progresses. Stephen Anderson had a nice tackle that sent James Hamilton flying on a kickoff return he nearly broke. Zach Watt opened the game with a nice tackle on first kickoff. Josh Jackson showed good hands and quickness in returning five punts for 37 yards. Punt coverage was excellent allowing only 9 yards on three returns.
Great counter misdirection play call on first touchdown. After Merzi sealed the inside pursuit guard Seth Reed is still looking for someone to block as he led Mealy into end zone. Great job by defensive coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland in their game plan. Flipping McNary around to both ends limits the ability of spread teams to coordinate their protection. Inspired move replacing Travis with Trimble who had a great game. Give Ellerson credit for playing direct plebes like Jon Crucitti and bucking the hierarchal system that existed before he arrived at West Point.
Impressive win coming off disappointing loss. Offense was methodical and defense was suffocating. For a change special teams play were very solid.

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