2013 Army Football Stat Tracker: Penalties

Yes, Army committed three personal fouls against Navy, a big reason why the Black Knights failed to win that game and save Rich Ellerson's job. Yet, you might not realize that Army failed to flourish in 2013 even when it kept penalties under control. That's the point of emphasis in this week's statistical examination.


FLAGGING EVEN WHEN NOT FLAGGED: ARMY'S RELATIONSHIP WITH PENALTIES IN 2013

The Army football team's worst encounter with the demon of penalties came last December in Philadelphia against Navy. Everyone who follows Army football zealously does not need any elaboration on that point. Yet, a more under-the-radar fact from 2013 is that when Army retained discipline in terms of penalties, things still didn't work out for the Black Knights.

In its 11 FBS games last season, Army committed more penalties than its opponent on five occasions. It committed as many penalties (a statistical tie) on one occasion. It committed fewer penalties than its gameday foe on five other occasions. In those five games – when Army won the penalty battle – the Black Knights went 1-4. So much for discipline in that aspect of competition. It's not enough to commit fewer penalties. What matters is finding a way to leverage an opponent's mistakes – or your avoidance of them – into real-world gains that are consolidated over the course of 60 minutes. Army's offense just wasn't good enough to make a penalty advantage stand up. Ideally, committing fewer penalties than an opponent in five games should translate into a 3-2 record, but Army wasn't even able to get to a 2-3 mark. A 1-4 showing with fewer penalties represents the extent to which Army was outclassed in other areas, giving new coach Jeff Monken something to shoot for in his debut season.

Yes, Army went 0-5 when it committed more penalties than an opponent – that statistic comes as no surprise at all. However, Army is precisely the kind of program that has to maximize any statistical advantage it can get. West Point football failed to achieve this last season, at least when seen through the prism of penalties. This is just one glimpse inside a program that has a lot to do on the practice field before Opening Day in 2014.

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