The Army Black Knights offense produced 551 yards in offense in routing Eastern Michigan 50-25. Army's offense was unstoppable as Terry Baggett rushed for an Army record 304 yards and scored four touchdowns. The undermanned Black Knights defense struggled early but forced two turnovers. A key fourth down stop helped secure the win as the Black Knights offense pulled away. The victory improves Army's record to 3-4 and Eastern Michigan Eagles drops to 1-5.
PASSING OFFENSE: A
Angel Santiago completed 5-of-7 passes for 38 passing yards. He was very efficient making short throws to move the chains and keep drives alive. Santiago hit Xavier Moss for a 10-yard gain on the opening drive after Justin Gilbert's false start to make it second and long. It helped give Army a short run down were Santiago converted the first down. The pass kept the drive alive and helped Army to score its first touchdown. Santiago mostly hit Xavier Moss (4 rec for 30 yards) on quick hitch passes. I hope to see more of this in Army's offense. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields used this pass play often at Cal Poly. Chevaughn Lawrence made a very nice 8-yard catch on a third-and-9 play. Army converted on fourth down to keep the drive alive and took the lead for good later. Santiago made a good decision to throw one pass away. His only poor throw was when he underthrew an open Xavier Moss on a skinny post pattern.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A+
The Black Knights rushed for an amazing season high 513 yards, averaged 9.5 yards per carry and had seven rushing touchdowns. Terry Baggett set a Black Knight single-game rushing record with 304 yards. He scored on runs of 4, 67, 34 and 96 yards. Baggett's third-quarter 96-yard scoring run was the second longest run in Academy history. He left the game for a few plays after landing awkwardly out of bounds. He is the one player Army can't afford to lose with Maples sidelined. Baggett also did a tremendous job blocking in space. Fullback Larry Dixon (10 att., 69 yards, 1 TD) had an impressive 30-yard touchdown run where he demonstrated his leg strength by breaking at least five tackles to score. Running back Trenton Turrentine (8 atts., 92 yards, 1 TD) had the best game of his career running for a career high 92-yards. Quarterback Angel Santiago (13 att., 36 yards) was limited by his sore ankle. He lacked his usual quickness but did a superb job of managing the offense and distributing the ball. Third string fullback Matt Giachinta (4 atts., 15 yards, 1 TD ) scored his first career touchdown. Giachinta played after back-up Hayden Tippett suffered an ankle injury. Center Ryan Powis dominated all day long. It was a tremendous job blocking by the offensive line and on the perimeter.
PASSING DEFENSE: C+
Eastern Michigan quarterback Tyler Benz completed 17-of-26 for 223 passing yards. He had two touchdowns with an interception. EMU initially looked like it would move the ball all day as they scored on their first two possessions. Chris Carnegie (2 tackles) didn't break down properly and EMU's Bronson Hill ran right through his weak arm tackle attempt on the Eagles opening drive for a 17-yard touchdown catch. Bobby Kough (3 tackles, 1 sack) made a key sack on EMU's third drive to force a punt. Rover Justin Trimble (6 tackles, INT., FR) ended one drive with a diving interception and recovered a fumble to stop another one. Trimble has excellent instincts and is usually in the right place despite lacking much speed. Free safety Hayden Pierce (6 tackles, pass def.) had excellent coverage on EMU's talented tight end Tyreese Russell two consecutive plays to end the first half. Pierce knocked away a potential touchdown pass to Russell which forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal. SAM safety Shaquille Tolbert (2 tackles) continues to struggled in space missing some tackles and having trouble matching up in coverage. Tolbert was beat by Dustin Creel for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Army sacked Benz two times and did generate some pressure. Cornerback Josh Jenkins (6 tackles, FF) made a nice strip of Jay Jones on a slant pattern for a huge turnover that changed the game. Jarrett Mackey (2 tackles) missed a sack on the opening Eagle drive. The Black Knights held EMU to 3-of-11 on third downs despite their struggles at times.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C-
The Black Knights were on their heels a few times as EMU ran for 194 yards, averaged 5.7 yards per carry and a touchdown. The Eagles ripped off a few long runs and tackling was poor in the first half. However, Army was able to make some stops which allowed the offense to extend the lead. Colby Miller (6 tackles, 1 sack) has probably earned himself more reps with his play the last two weeks. His nice tackle on Bronson Hill, holding him for no gain on fourth down, helped secure the win. Miller fills runs gaps and makes tackles on plays run at him. His speed limitations are exposed on dig routes in front of him or pitches to the alley. However, he usually makes tackles which too many Army defenders struggle to do. I would give him more reps with Meier gone. Julian Holloway (6 tackles) had a rough game and was often slow to react to plays. For the second week in a row he missed too many tackles. Malcolm Hudson (4 tackles, 2 TFL) has replaced Dalton Mendenhall at quick end. It's a good move since Hudson has shown the ability to defeat blocks while the equally athletic Mendenhall hasn't made many plays up the field. Joe Drummond (3 tackles) outplayed Mike Ugenyi who started but failed to make a tackle. Army's nose tackles Richard Glover (1 tackle) and T.J. Atimalala (1 tackle) had trouble getting off blocks. Still the Black Knights hung tough and forced EMU off the field five times despite missing two of their best defenders. It wasn't pretty and you can argue it was a "D" effort based on stats. I'll give the defense credit for rebounding and getting some stops after allowing 68 rushing yards the first two series when it looked like a replay of the 2012 game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Rich Ellerson revealed in the post-game that kicker Dan Grochowski was banged up against BC. Cale Brewer handled the kickoffs. His initial kickoff was almost broke by Tyler Allen. The staff had him pop up the rest of his kickoffs. They gave the Eagles good field position all game. Punter Alex Tardieu did a nice job on his one directional punt of 29 yards which landed inside the 20- yard line. EMU also hit pop up kickoffs. Army almost lost one when it failed to cover it. Julian Crockett had two returns for 27 yards. Matt Giachinta had two for 20 yards. Scott Williams failed to field a punt when he lost it in the sun. The coverage teams continue to struggle covering kicks. I'm not sure why Chris Carnegie failed to pressure holder Mark Iannotti off the edge following the botched PAT after EMU's first touchdown. It's one thing to keep containment, it's another the let the opposition make a play and get off a pass. Justin Trimble's hit the Eagles Cole Gardner was too high and allowed him to break the plane for the 2-point conversion. It was an ugly special teams play for Army.
Rich Ellerson's team has overcome a lot of injuries to key personnel to win two of the last three games. Ian Shields offense clicked all day. His counter hand off named after "Doc" Blanchard worked to perfection. The offensive line has not lost any effectiveness under new coaches Todd Spencer and Tom Simi.
The defensive staff saw their unit get off to a slow start but made some adjustment against the dig route that were killing them early. I would have gone for it on fourth-and-three late in the second quarter. If Ellerson had gambled and lost based on EMU's last drive the score would have probably been tied if they were given a short field. I don't like Ellerson's use of pop up kickoffs. I think the pop up kickoffs give up more yardage than they save.
OVERALL GRADE: B+
Army did what it had to do and beat a struggling team. The offense dominated and the defense made just enough plays to allow Army's offense to blow the game open. Mediocre special teams play and too many missed tackles keep this from an "A" grade but if the offense can play like this on the road the Black Knights can win the next few games.
Army Report Card: Eastern Michigan
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