Report Card: Army vs. Vanderbilt

The Vanderbilt Commodores produced 530 yards of offense in easily defeating the Army Black Knights, 44-21. Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy ran for a career high 198 yards as the Commodores ran for 344 yards as a team. The Black Knights offense struggled early in the game, rushing for just 104 yards in the first half.

Quarterback Trent Steelman was hurt when he was sacked late in the first half and did not return. He was replaced by an ineffective Max Jenkins. Plebe quarterback Angel Santiago made his first appearance and played well moving the team during both of his series and scored a touchdown. Army's defense was outmanned by the bigger SEC foe in the loss. The Black Knights drop to 2-5 on the season.




Trent Steelman completed one of three passes for 18 yards. Trent rolled out on first pass and seemed about to take off when he pulled up and hit Jared Hassin for an 18-yard gain that set up Army's first touchdown. Steelman threw the ball deep for Davyd Brooks but the ball was over the wrong shoulder and fell incomplete. Brooks wasn't able to create separation from the much faster Vanderbilt defensive back. Late in the first half Steelman scrambled and hit Austin Barr right in the hands and he dropped it. Army's wide receivers continue to drop far too many catchable balls. That led to a third and long situation where Steelman was sacked and injured his ankle. Max Jenkins only pass attempt was incomplete when rolled out and threw a nice pass 45 yards downfield under pressure that Davyd Brooks couldn't bring in. Angel Santiago completed a two point conversion pass rolling out to Larry Dixon. Santiago threw two incompletions on his final drive. Army's offensive line couldn't handle the Vanderbilt defensive front seven when they attempted to pass. Army's quarterbacks were sacked three times in just ten pass attempts. The blitz and pass rush pickups by the Army running backs except for Dixon, who did a nice job, were awful.
Army was held under 300 yards rushing (270) for the first time this year. Despite the 5.3 per yard average, Army wasn't that effective if you back out two long runs. Once again the Black Knights committed too many fumbles on the road. Army fumbled five times, losing three. They rushed for just 104 yards in the first half and had three drives end in three plays or less. Trent Steelman ran nine times for 40 yards before he was injured. Max Jenkins (3 att., 11yards) struggled to sustain any drives. On the second drive after halftime Jenkins made a terrible read on second and one when he pulled the ball out on the mesh instead of leaving it with Hassin, who ran through the line untouched, and carried the ball himself for a two yard loss. A play later Army had to punt. Raymond Maples ran twelve times for a hard earned 66 yards. Jared Hassin (5 att.15 yards, fumble) had problems on the mesh with both Steelman and Jenkins that ended in fumbles and led to Vandy touchdowns. Larry Dixon the backup B-back (9 att., 92 yards) showed his speed on an 57-yard run to set up a touchdown. Malcolm Brown (25 yards, 1 TD) demonstrated his speed scoring on a fly sweep but had trouble holding onto the ball. Angel Santiago (6 att., 21 yards, one TD) showed his explosive quickness on a 17-yard run for a first down. Despite his small frame he has surprising leg strength which he demonstrated in scoring his first career touchdown.
Vanderbilt's quarterback Jordan Rogers hurt Army with some big plays but the Black Knight secondary did a decent job against some talented receivers. Army allowed Rogers to complete only 10 of 27 passes (37%) for 186 yards with one touchdown against two interceptions. It was a solid job because the Army front seven posted no sacks against Rogers. Rogers best "pass play" often was his ability to scramble for yardage.

Cornerback Josh Jackson (3 tackles, 3 passes defensed) isn't a great cover corner but I like the way he competes. Jackson was burned on a post route for a 43-yard touchdown but his coverage wasn't bad. It was a perfect pass and a better catch by Boyd. He knocked down three out passes including one in the end zone. After he was beat deep by Krause on a 41-yard gain, Jackson demonstrated good recovery speed to tackle Krause. Lamar Johnson-Harris (3 tackles) was penalized for pass interference on the opening drive that placed the ball on the three-yard line. LJ played well after that play and probably had his best coverage game this year. Army's safeties Hayden Pierce (6 tackles) and Tyler Dickson (6 tackles, 1 pass defensed) had average games and gave up a few long passes. Andrew Rodriguez (7 tackles, 1interception) made an excellent read jumping a crossing route to pick off a pass that set up Army's first touchdown. Thomas Holloway almost picked off a pass in the end zone.
Army made some line-up changes but their undersized defense was over matched up front. New Mike linebacker Geoffrey Bacon missed a few tackles but posted 13 tackles, defended a pass and intercepted another pass returning it 70 yards for a touchdown. Bacon was the USMAPS defensive MVP last year and will be a very productive player with his sideline to sideline range and speed. Steve Erzinger had 9 tackles and two quarterback hurries. Safety Thomas Holloway was deked out of his shoes on Stacey's last 55 yard touchdown run and had a costly late hit penalty on an early drive. A.J. Mackey (3 tackles) was manhandled at the line of scrimmage. I have no idea what Nate Combs (5 tackles, 1 QB hurry) was doing on Rogers touchdown run. He overran the play and ran himself into a block leaving the middle wide open.
Chris Boldt had a great game averaging 42.0 yards per punt and hit a terrific clutch 65-yard punt. Boldt placed three punts inside the 20-yard line. Josh Jackson returned a punt two yards. Plebe Marcus Jackson looked shaky on kickoff returns (13.5) and dropped one ball out of bounds at the two-yard line. Scott Williams averaged nearly 20 yards on his two returns On punt coverage Army once again did an excellent job covering punts. Vandy's Andre Hal nearly broke the opening kickoff for a touchdown with his 53-yard return. Alex Carlton badly missed an extra point.
During the bye week Rich Ellerson and his staff made position changes, had two weeks to prepared. It didn't matter as the Black Knights looked unfocused with fumbles, missed reads and dropped passes. Ian Shields' offense struggled against Vandy physical defense. The fumbles and dropped passes turned it into a rout. The Black Knights defense competed but were over matched in the trenches.
The Black Knights defense was over matched and the offense did very little in the first half. In three of the four road games this year the Black Knights didn't start moving the ball until the second half after the game was technically over. Vanderbilt is an SEC team and should beat Army; they are better. That said, there is no excuse for the Black Knights miserable showing. They gave themselves no chance to win by imploding with fumbles, dropped passes and missed tackles.

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