Army Report Card: Western Kentucky

Army fell to Western Kentucky 21-17 on Saturday at Michie Stadium. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Blacks Knights performance in several key team areas.

PASSING OFFENSE: C
Army quarterback Angel Santiago completed 8-of-11 passes for 76 passing yards. Santiago overthrew an open Terry Baggett on a wheel route during the second drive as Terry was late to look for the ball. His first completion was to Patrick Laird but it was short of the first down. Santiago did an excellent job setting up a screen pass to Laird on a second and long situation. It went for a five yard gain but should have been a lot more. Guard Stephen Shumaker leading on the play totally fanned on his block. Tony Giovanelli made two tough catches for 29 yards where he was nailed both times running seam routes. Santiago badly missed Chevaughn Lawrence on a short route to start the third quarter but hit him later on the same play during the drive for a short gain.

Angel hit Xavier Moss for an eight yard completion that was short of the first down. It set up the ill-fated fourth-and-1 run that was stuffed and led to WKU's second touchdown. Santiago's throw was off target and it made Moss dive for the ball which cost the first down.

Fullback Matt Giachinta had a key 9-yard reception for a first down for a third down conversion during Army's last touchdown drive. Santiago's final completion was a failed hook-and-ladder play to tackle MoMo Kime who fumbled the lateral.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B
The Black Knights ran for 277 yards, averaged 6.0 yards per carry and had two rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Angel Santiago (15 att., 35 yards, TDs) did a solid job against Western Kentucky's physical shifting defense which knows how to defend the option. Angel's best run came off a quarterback scramble. The Hilltopper defense rotated a five man front .They played one over the center in an "O" technique and in the other would drop back from the line in a two-point stance next to the Mike linebacker. Santiago missed a few reads and some blocks were missed but overall he did a nice job. His only mistake was the costly fumble at the goal line on the opening series which really hurt.

Terry Baggett (12 att.,102 yards, TD) wasn't going to be denied on his touchdown run. Tony Giovannelli (6 atts, 82 yards) made his first career start and ripped off a 68-yard run. Giovannelli had a 27-yard touchdown run called back on a questionable clipping call against guard Matt Hugenberg. I thought it was a clean play and Hugenberg had his head in front when he made contact.

B-back Matt Giachinta had 11 carries for 34 yards and had to fill in after Dixon was injured. Army really missed Larry Dixon ability to break tackles and his blocking this game. Giachinta is a solid player but he lacks Dixon's run skills or Hayden Tippett's power. Aaron Kemper had one carry for 4 yards.

PASSING DEFENSE: C
WKU had success late in the game passing after spending much of the game trying to pound the ball on the ground. WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty completed 16 of his 24 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns.

Chris Carnegie (5 tackles, PD) had his second straight rough game. On WKU's first touchdown drive he never picked up the receiver Norris as he spied the quarterback all the way on third-and-21. Carnegie never reacted to Norris running an out-route just past the first down marker for an easy catch. Three plays later Willie Mcneal caught a short hitch route and stumbled. Carnegie hesitated then took a poor angle and missed the tackle. It was a terrible play as McNeil scored a touchdown.

Cornerback Josh Jenkins made a nice hit in the first quarter just as the ball arrived to break up a third down pass and force a punt. Jenkins was beat by McNeil on a four yard touchdown pass off a double move. Sam safety Shaq Tolbert (3 tackles) was beat on two long completions during Western Kentucky's game winning drive.

Thomas Holloway (11 tackles, INT, PD ) made a terrific diving interception in the end zone off a tipped pass. Holloway led the team in tackles and was a welcomed addition back in the lineup after missing a few games with injuries. Jarrett Mackey (8 tackles, 2 sacks) reminded fans on Senior Day what an impact pass rusher he once was in 2010 before his knee injury as he recorded two sacks. The inability of the Black Knights to generate pressure, despite Mackey's two sacks during the first half, killed them down the stretch as Doughty had all day to throw.

RUSHING DEFENSE: A
The Black Knights rush defense had a terrific game against Antonio Andrews the leading rusher in the nation. They were the first team all year to hold Andrews under five yards a carry and allowed his third lowest (117 yards) rushing yardage total. Overall the Army defense allowed 135 rushing yards, 3.4 yards per carry and a touchdown.

Free safety Geoffrey Bacon (6 tackles) looked to be in top form despite playing with a cast after struggling last week. He had a huge hit on Andrews one play. He was huge in run support and brought speed and a physical presence back in the lineup.

Colby Miller (6 tackles) did a nice job filling the running lanes. He made what initially looked to be a huge fumble recovery late in the game. Mike Ugenyi (4 tackles, TFL) had a nice game and held the point well. James Kelly (3 tackles, FF) looked a lot more comfortable back at defensive end. Marcus Poling (3 tackles) showed nice speed on two open field tackles of Andrews just before the end of the first half. Nose tackle Rich Glover (2 tackles, TFL) had a solid game in the middle.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Punter Alex Tardieu had three punts for a 36.3 average. He placed two punts inside the twenty yard line. Tardieu ran 20-yards for a first down on a well-designed and well blocked fake punt. Julian Crockett had three kickoff returns for 45 yards. Scott Williams finally had some blocking to return a punt 12 yards.

Dan Grochowski pouched his early kick offs to keep the ball away from Andrews. A false start by the kicking unit cost Grochowsi a 51-yard field goal and the team three points. Army recovered the opening kickoff only to lose possession on an offside penalty and had to kick off again. The pouched kickoffs gave WKU better field position than when Dan just kicked off. Freshman Chasen Brown plastered Willie Mcneal on a punt return right after he caught it. Army coverage team did a solid job overall.

COACHING: B
Rich Ellerson had his team well prepared and the game plan was sound. It was the best defensive effort against a quality running game all season. I didn't like Ellerson's decision to go for it on fourth and one at their own 44. Santiago was stuffed for no gain and it gave WKU a short field which they turned into a 14-10 lead. I often like Ellerson's aggressiveness in these spots but the defense was playing well and the running game had previously gained just a yard on two carries. To me the move there was to punt and play defense with a long field behind them. Ellerson's decision to call a time out with 34 seconds left in the game was a mistake. He called a time out to preserve time but it gave WKU the ability to run the ball twice rather than make them play with a running clock. Chris Smeland and Payam Saadat did a nice job having their unit rebound from a terrible effort against Air Force. I would have liked to see Colin Linkul for his ability to generate a pass rush on the final series.

Ian Shields had a lot more success against Western Kentucky than Navy did on offense. I didn't like his second to last offensive series. I would have called a bootleg or play action pass on third down to give Angel a run or pass option in space. I'm surprised Baggett didn't see the ball at least once on the final series either with a speed option pitch or on triple option. What was the point of the hook and ladder lateral to a left tackle? Army needed someone with some speed in that spot. Special teams coach Luke Thompson did a nice job on the fake punt. It was well designed and executed.

OVERALL GRADE: B
I give the team and the staff credit for an excellent effort and being well prepared. However, it's frustrating to see these Army being Army moments when the team makes mistakes, takes a penalty or fails to make a play when it has the chance. It's the difference between a winning and losing program.

ArmySports.com Top Stories