Army Report Card: Eastern Michigan

Army allowed five touchdown passes by Eastern Michigan's quarterback Tyler Benz as previously winless Eastern Michigan defeated Army 48-38 last Saturday at Rynearson Stadium. Eastern Michigan (1-6) jumped out to a 14-0 lead within the first six minutes of the first quarter and the Eagles never trailed in earning their first victory of the season.

The loss drops Army's record to a miserable 1-6. The Black Knights haven't won away from Michie Stadium since their victory in the 2010 Armed Forces bowl.

PASSING OFFENSE: D
Trent Steelman completed just 1 of 5 passes for only 19 yards. Steelman's only completion was a 19-yard pass to Chevaughn Lawrence on Army's first scoring drive. Trent made a smart decision on the same drive to throw ball away on third down and take the field goal rather than risk being sacked. With EMU often firing their cornerbacks to take away the pitch lanes there should have been more opportunities in the passing game but there just weren't many passes called. Plebe A.J. Schurr entered the game in the fourth quarter and led a touchdown drive. He hit the forgotten former starter Anthony Stephens (2 rec, 46 yards, 1 TD) for two consecutive passes including a nice throw to Stephens for 35-yard touchdown. After the team recovered an onside kick Schurr threw three straight incompletions on the final series. The offensive line struggled at times late in the game pass protecting when the Eagles knew Army had to throw the ball.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B
Army ran for 413 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns but it could have been better. Trent Steelman ran for a career-high 212 yards and made a career long 74-yard and 75-yard touchdown runs. Steelman set Army single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Tory Crawford previously held the mark with 208 yards against Lafayette on Nov. 15, 1986. Despite his rushing success, Steelman's had a crucial lost fumble on the EMU 7-yard line when he had another chance to score and give Army the lead. Instead EMU took over at the seven and drove 93 yards for a 28-17 halftime lead. Fullback Hayden Tippett (9 rushes, 74 yards) played well replacing the injured Larry Dixon. He ran over an EMU defender for 18-yard run on his first carry. Tippett fought for four yards and a first down on third-and- 3 which set up Army's first touchdown. Malcolm Brown (4 rec, 71 yards, 1 TD) took a pitch 55 yards for a touchdown down the right sideline. Brown had a costly lost fumble at the start of the fourth quarter that really ended Army's hopes. He also had another false start penalty that forced a punt. Junior A-back Raymond Maples (14 rushes, 38 yards) produced his lowest output of the season. Trenton Turrentine (3 rushes, 12 yards) scored on a 9-yard touchdown run. Blocking on the perimeter was inconsistent. Army's backfield had four fumbles including two costly fumbles loss that dropped this grade.

PASSING DEFENSE: F
Quarterback Tyler Benz threw a career-high 369 yards and five touchdowns. Benz found Javonti Green for a 39-yard touchdown pass on The Opening drive. Cornerback Marques Avery had the coverage underneath. It looked like the safety failed to help over the top. Avery posted two tackles and broke up four passes including knocking down a potential touchdown pass. Bronson Hill caught a pass and easily outran defensive end Zach Watts (6 tackles) who was trying to cover him for a 41-yard touchdown. Freshman rover Alex Meier (8 tackles) did a nice job reading a route and picked off Tyler Benz near goal line. Meier returned the interception 65 yards. Army had seven pressures with Bobby Kough (5 tackles) leading with three hurries but the team made no sacks. The Black Knights could not cover tight end Garrett Hoskins all day. Hoskins had seven catches for 158 receiving yards and a touchdown. The pass rush missed injured captain Nate Combs with his replacement Jarrett Mackey (5 tackles) not being much of a factor.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D
Eastern Michigan's new running back star Bronson Hill ran for 185 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Hill broke four tackles and ran for a 23-yard gain on the first series as he set the tone for the day. A number of times Army had Hill cornered but overran their gaps and missed tackles. Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires led the team with 14 tackles and often was the last line of defense. Mike linebacker Geoff Bacon was able to stuff Bronson Hill on third-and-goal at Army one late in the first half. Bacon made 13 tackles but was benched for a while after missing too many arm tackles and not squaring up to bring Hill down. His back-up C.J. Shelley made two tackles but is too small to be much of an answer. Defensive tackle Rich Glover had three tackles but the front line was often engulfed at the point of attack.

SPECIALTEAMS: D
Justin Allen was blocking when the first punt return hit him on his shoulder pads. Allen was alert and was able to recover the ball which was ruled a fumble. Army punter Chris Boldt dropped a low snap and was tackled at Army 13 setting up an easy EMU touchdown. It put Army in a 14-0 hole right away. Boldt averaged 42.7 on his three punts. Dan Grochowski made a 43-yard field goal and all his extra points. Josh Jackson was back handling punts but had no returns. Army's coverage teams did a solid job. Eric Osteen had two touchbacks on his five kickoffs. Osteen did a nice job on two onside kicks. The first kick went out of bounds on but Carnegie leaped and had a chance at it. After Army's last touchdown Patrick Laird recoverd on-sides kick with 2:10 left. James Kelly did a nice job blocking the defender and allowing Laird to cover it.

COACHING: F
This team wasn't ready to play in my opinion. Why in the world with the Army defense would you defer to the second half? This was going to be a high scoring game and drawing first blood would have given this team some confidence on the road. It hasn't won a road game since 2010 and you'd think the staff would want the players to feel good about themselves. Instead the defense and special teams implode and Army's offense had run three plays and they were already down 14-0 to a winless Eastern Michigan team. After allowing a quick touchdown Army calls timeout before running their first offensive play. How do you screw up the formation on the first play? That's just not being ready to play and that's on the staff. Late in the game Army its final timeout between touchdown and extra point. Why? I have no idea.

Offensive coordinator Ian Shields generally called a solid game but I didn't understand the third quarter decision after a Malcolm Brown false start penalty. On a third-and-8 he called a Maples running play for a one yard loss. That was a poor play choice. EMU scored after the punt and opened a two touchdown lead.

Defensive Coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland continue to have the same problems with their young defense lining up incorrectly and failing to play the correct gaps. This is an issue for them and the position coaches. It's one thing to get out-manned but it's another to make mental mistakes. There were a number of occasions where the defense left receivers uncovered. After making some positive steps the previous three weeks this game was a major step back. Army's defense is a mixture of upperclassmen, most of whom Ellerson didn't recruit (The 2008 prep class and most of the 2009 class), who understand the system but aren't legit Division I athletes. The others are Ellerson's recruits who are freshmen and sophomores that are better athletes but make the same mental and technical mistakes almost every week. The coaching staff has to do a better job. I didn't like the team's lack of intensity and body language at all.

OVERALL GRADE: D
The offense scored 38 points but often fails to come through when the team needs it. Still, it's unfair to blame them. The defense regressed badly this week. The lack of size among the defensive line and the fact there are no senior upperclassmen isn't Ellerson's fault. That is a result of the previous regime which he is trying to correct. The inability of having his guys line up correctly and play their gaps, however, is inexcusable. That's on Ellerson and his staff and that has to change.

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