It was a game that made Army fans very happy and very excited – with an end result which was just a crying shame. So many things went right for Army in this matchup. Unfortunately not enough of the things went their way for them to emerge with what would have been an absolutely incredible victory. Through three quarters it was difficult to believe what we were seeing - our Black Knights were physically manhandling one of the Big East's best teams, and they took a thoroughly deserved 17-3 lead into the 4th quarter.
Alas, the 4th quarter has become a major bugaboo for the Cadets these last 4 weeks. They have now been outscored 65-17 in the final quarter of these last four games. No matter what the reason, it has now cost them two victories against high quality opponents, and has resulted in bowl eligibility still being in doubt, as opposed to it being already assured. Despite out-gaining Rutgers 289 to -1 on the ground, and despite recording 8 sacks, Army was unable to hold on to that 2 TD lead. The loser's whine is to put it on the refs, and although there were an awful lot of calls that went Rutgers' way, calls that kept their drives alive, gave them first downs, wiped out Rutgers turnovers, etc. the bottom line was that the Black Knights were unable to come up with a stop when they needed it, and they made critical mistakes on both sides of the ball when the game was on the line and still within their control.
For the most part, Army executed very well on the day. Trent Steelman was 8/14 for 115 yards and he ran for 102 yards on 27 Carries. Jarred Hassin was brilliant with 118 yards on 16 carries. Blocking on the perimeter and downfield was outstanding. The Army offense had 2 major mis-fires. The first was a 4th and 3 on the Rutgers 23 on the 1st possession of the 2nd half. Steelman had Brian Cobbs wide open and badly under-threw it. The 2nd mishap was in overtime. Army had a 3rd and 3 and botched the play, having to settle for a field goal. And that's without mentioning a lost fumble on a bad hand off late in the 4th quarter.
On defense, Army limited Rutgers to 250 yards. Army had 8 sacks and Josh McNary had 2 of them. For the exception of a couple of drives, they completely dominated the game.
It made Army fans so happy to see the Black Knights dominate a real FBS team. They were not manhandled, they were not worn down – they were better than Rutgers. We were pinching ourselves to make sure that it was really happening. What was really tough to take that it was a special combination of plays/penalties in the 4th quarter that allowed Rutgers to get back into the game and win. If Army does not commit a dumb penalty here or gets a first down there – the Cadets would have been dancing in the streets of Secaucus.
Hopefully we won't again have to endure the disappointment of losing a game when we were the better team the rest of this season.
In Charleston, the Keydets took advantage of 4 Charleston Southern turnovers and beat the Buccaneers 34-16. QB Chaz Jones ran for 3 touchdowns and passed for 114 yards.
What to look for?
Army has had a week off to heal physically and emotionally. Unlike the Army/VMI match up last year, Army is very comfortable in their offense. In years past, the trip to West Point for a given FCS team was their bowl game. The players were mentally and emotionally up for the game. The defenses would stack the line and make Army throw – which they rarely did. Sometimes, The Citadel, UMASS or Holy Cross would either beat us or put a scare into the corps. We don't think that will happen this year.
Steelman is reading defenses, running and throwing very well. The entire offense is making their initial and secondary blocks. The defense is confusing and tackling well. Army's players are bigger and faster, their scheme is superior and their execution is better. You play the games for a reason. There is always a chance that Army will melt with turnovers and penalties, but we don't think that this Army team is capable of such a performance.
We hope to see several passes and nice drives from Steelman and crew to start the game. We would like to see Max Jenkins, Jacob Bohn, Cedarius Williams, Jonathan Crucitti and Austin Barr start the second half. A couple sacks by McNary to beef up his numbers would be nice – but we would like a fully rested and healed team to take on Air Force.
Who is favored?
There is no line, but if there were, it would be ~ Army -35
Final Score – Army 49 –VMI 10 (predictions 2010, 3-4)
Game will be shown on CBSCSTV, 12:00PM EST.
Picks from the Ridge:
Auburn -7 over Mississippi
Navy -13.5 over Duke
Missouri +7.5 at Nebraska