Army Football 2013 In Review: Landing Punches

As said last week, Army needs to accumulate more plus-territory drive starts. This week's focus is on the back end of the issue. The Black Knights must be able to do more with short fields when they're able to get them.


(FIRST) DOWN AND OUT: WHY SHORT FIELDS DIDN'T YIELD WHAT THEY COULD HAVE

Last week, Army's noticeably small number of plus-territory drive starts in FBS games (eight) was discussed. That's a number which obviously has to grow in 2014 in order for this team to have a better chance of succeeding. If Army can double that total or at least come close to it, perhaps two games – maybe even three – could flow in a different direction.

However, if securing plus-territory drive starts represents the front end of the issue, the back end also needs to be considered, namely, finishing those shorter drives.

There's something very fundamental to football when the matter of field position is discussed: When a team crosses midfield, it is two first downs (at a maximum) out of field goal range. When it gets to the 40, it is one first down out of field goal range. It's natural to talk about the need for teams to turn short fields into touchdowns. Bowl teams will do that often enough to matter. However, let's at least start at the point where short fields lead to field goals. Army couldn't even do that last year – not more than exactly one time, at any rate.

The statistic is shocking: Army scored a field goal on only one plus-territory drive start that began outside an opponent's 35. The Black Knights had six possessions that started between the 50 and the opponent's 36 last season, and only one of them led to a field goal. It's more alarming that only one of those six possessions led to a touchdown, but it's certainly a point of concern for new head coach Jeff Monken that Army's offense couldn't get three points on more drives with roughly two-fifths of the field to go.

Here's the plus-territory point summary for Army in 2013: The Black Knights' six possessions from the 50 to the opponent's 36 netted a total of 10 points. Two drive starts from the opponent's 35 to the opponent's 21 tallied 10 points as well. Overall, the Black Knights scored 20 points on their eight plus-territory possessions in 11 FBS games. That's an average of 2.5 points per possession. Doing simple math, that's less than a field goal per possession. Also doing simple math, a mixture of touchdowns and field goals – which is what every team should strive for – should place a scoring average near five points, roughly twice the 2.5 figure Army posted.

Fixing this stat will start with touchdowns, of course, but had the Black Knights kicked three more field goals on plus-territory possessions that wound up getting nothing, they would have collected 29 points on their eight possessions, putting their scoring average at 3.63 points per possession. We'll see where Army takes this set of statistics in the season to come.

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