Report Card: Army vs. VMI

Army defeated a gamely but overmatched VMI 29-7 at Michie Stadium on Saturday. Fullback Jared Hassin ran for over 100 yards for the third consecutive game. While Army was never really threatened due to the Keydets offensive limitations it was a rather uneven performance by the Black Knights.

Donovan Travis' fourth quarter interception return and lateral to Jordan Trimble for a 42-yard touchdown run sealed the win.




Trent Steelman completed 4 of 11 passes for 65 yards. For the second week in a row Trent overthrew a wide open Brian Cobbs on the second series for what would have been touchdown. Steelman made a perfect throw on a 41 post pattern the following series that George Jordan dropped. Jared Hassin had three catches for 54 yards. Austin Barr had one catch for 11 yards and showed good concentration on a tipped balled that gave the Back Knights a first down. Barr was open later on the same series only to be underthrown by Steelman. The offensive line was just average in protection and allowed one sack against VMI. Steelman has to do a better job throwing the ball and his receivers have to catch it.
Army ran for 316 yards and averaged 6.2 yards a carry while scoring two touchdowns against a VMI defense that played hard. Jared Hassin once again ran for over 100 yards for a career high 158 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Hassin illustrated his speed and power on a 38-yard touchdown run. Trent Steelman ran for 42 yards on 10 carries. Pat Mealy looks healthy after struggling with a knee injury as he ran for 97 yards. With injuries keeping Malcolm Brown and Raymond Maples out, slot back Brian Austin saw his first carries from scrimmage this year. The speedy Austin ran three times for 21 yards. With center Zac Peterson being held out Army struggled at times running inside as backup center Tom Hagan was outplayed by VMI's nose tackle Josh Wine who freed the linebackers to make plays. Most of Hassin's best runs were between the guard and tackle. Hassin's two fumbles kept this from being a "A".
Army allowed VMI to complete 20 of 36 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. Army did create pressure but surprisingly didn't sack a VMI till the final Keydet offensive play when freshman Mike linebacker Reggie Nesbit ran down Morgan. Josh McNary, one tackle, had a quiet game but was held in the end zone on one play to produce a safety. Donovan Travis had a terrific game with nine tackles, an interception and a pass break up. His interception and lateral to Jordan Trimble for a 42-yard touchdown sealed the win. SAM safety Donnie Dixon had five tackles. Richard King, four tackles, did a solid job replacing the injured Antuan Aaron.
On paper it was an average performance allowing 123 yards rushing , a 3.8 yards a carry and one rushing touchdown. However, given VMI's problems running the ball it was less than impressive. The Keydets entered the game averaging just 68 rushing yards a game. They averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. Stephen Anderson had seven tackles before leaving the game for precautionary reasons. Converted fullback Kingsley Ehie played well in his absence making six tackle forcing a fumble and breaking up a pass attempt. Rover Steve Erzinger had six tackles. Army missed Marcus Hilton who didn't play defensive end and was replaced by Todd Miller. Miller had just one tackle. Nose tackle Mike Gann had two tackles and left the game with an ankle injury.
Alex Carlton had his best game of the season hitting both his field goal attempts from over 40 yards. Jonathan Bulls averaged 37 yards per punt. Bulls badly shanked his first attempt that traveled just 20 yards. The rest of the game Bulls was terrific. He placed two punts inside the 20-yard line. He nailed a 50 yard punt that flipped the field. Punt coverage continues to be outstanding allowing two returns for just three yards. Richard King and Josh Jones teamed up on a nice tackle to drop VMI's dangerous punt returner Scott immediately after Bulls fifty yard punt. Army's kickoff coverage was terrific allowing an average of just 15.5 yards on six returns. Army didn't do much in the return game.
A rather flat performance overall by the team. Ellerson expressed his surprise in post game about how well VMI was able to run the ball after being completely inept all season. The inability to sack VMI's quarterbacks were a surprise as well as was the Keydets ability to complete as many passes as they did. Give Ellerson credit for realizing that VMI was a limited opponent and using the chance to get some freshman playing time while resting some injured starters.
A workman like performance over a limited VMI team. It raised some concerns about the health and focus of the team with Air Force coming in on Saturday. Army needs to play a lot better if it hopes to defeat Air Force.

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