Academy Review: Week Five
RED, WHITE AND BLUE… AND VICTORY FOR ARMY:
WHITE-HOT OFFENSE KISSES RED-ZONE BLUES GOODBYE
The Army Black Knights had every reason to be discouraged after missing a golden opportunity against Wake Forest. However, coach Rich Ellerson's team found a way to regroup. A welcome dose of tunnel vision served the Brave Old Army Team well in Dallas.
A strong start was indeed essential against a Louisiana Tech side that is a shell of its former self. As soon as Army gained the upper hand in the first half of Saturday's neutral-site affair, the template for this game was established. Louisiana Tech offered a modest measure of resistance in spots, but in a complete reversal of the Wake Forest game, the Black Knights immediately reasserted themselves and did not allow the Bulldogs to gain the sense that they could compete at the same level. Not all possessions and drives are the same, and Army's ability to answer Tech's scores with touchdowns left a lasting impression. Notice that Army didn't bog down in the red zone, another change from the Wake Forest setback. Five red-zone touchdowns will win games on a consistent basis for Army… and for any other team that doesn't find itself in an SEC-style shootout these days.
So many elements of Army football were fixed this past week. Yes, Louisiana Tech is a noticeably poor team, but it's not as though Wake Forest represented a high bar for Army to clear. This team grew up and performed much better in various critical situations. It's a tired and worn collection of words, but "sustaining this level of play" is, as always, the challenge for Army heading into New England for a date with Boston College.
For Navy and Air Force, quarterbacking questions are the theme of the week. The Midshipmen suffered a deflating loss, while Air Force – even in defeat – might have gained a measure of hope. Navy fell to Western Kentucky on Saturday because starting quarterback Keenan Reynolds was knocked out in the second quarter due to a concussive event. Navy properly acted on the side of caution and player safety; in the short term, though, Reynolds's absence was impossible to overlook as the main reason for the Mids' first loss of 2013. Backup quarterback John Hendrick was thrown into a tough situation, and he couldn't make the two or three pass plays that might have changed the trajectory of Saturday's contest. Reynolds has expressed the hope that he'll be able to play this Saturday against Air Force, but Hendrick needs to be ready to answer the call if needed.
For Air Force, an untested quarterback proved himself beyond the expectations of many college football observers. Karson Roberts filled in for a suspended Jaleel Awini and orchestrated the triple option with great skill and savvy. Air Force's offense hummed and purred against Nevada. If the Falcons can replicate that offensive performance against Navy, they have to like their chances, especially in light of Navy's newfound worries under center.
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