The second game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 93, 1-0) and the Pac-12 North Stanford Cardinal (Sagarin 23, 1-1.) Stanford leads the all-time series 6-5 with the Cardinal beating the Cadets at West Point last year 34-20. The Cardinal hope to get back to their winning ways after dropping a very disappointing, sloppily played game against USC. Army hopes to ride the wave of enthusiasm to what would be one of the greatest Army upsets of all time.
In Palo Alto, USC Kicker Andre Heidari kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal with 2:30 remaining to give the Trojans a 13-10 lead. Stanford marched to the USC 25, but J.R. Tavai forced a fumble to end the Cardinal's comeback bid and the 14th-ranked Trojans ended the nation’s longest home winning streak at 17.
Stanford outgained USC 413 to 291 yards but couldn't overcome its own mistakes. The Cardinal committed two turnovers, eight penalties for 68 yards and Kicker Jordan Williamson missed two field goals.
Stanford ran 68 plays and held the ball for 33:47. Senior QB Kevin Hogan was 22/30 for 285 yards. He threw to six different receivers, but senior Tye Montgomery got the lion’s share and caught nine passes for 83 yards. Senior Remound Wright gained 60 yards on 11 carries.
At West Point, in the opening game against the Bison from Buffalo, there were many similarities and a few differences to Army’s overall body of work in 2013. The similarities were fumbles, penalties, missed extra points and the defense giving up 549 yards in total offense. The differences were the presence of a turnover causing defense, a very big offensive and defensive front and ARMY WINNING 47-39.
Army’s offense was tremendous. The offensive line, junior. Matt Hugenberg, senior Todd McDonald, Jr. Drew Hennesey, senior Steve Shumaker, sophomore Stefan Moreau and sophomore Lofi Tamasese, is bigger and stronger and had their way with the Bison defense. We wondered if they would be able to do much more than a base offense and if there would be an inordinate number of penalties, and our suspicions were correct. The offense was fairly basic, but the big bodies opened up big holes. They committed five penalties, but those were just a speed bump on the Cadet’s march to the end zone.
The Army running game was everything that we were hoping for. The Cadets gained 341 yards on the ground. Senior Larry Dixon led the way gaining 174 yards on 20 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Many of his yards came on the fullback option to the outside. This is an interesting take on the wishbone as the larger fullbacks continue to pound away at the cornerbacks and by the end of the game, the outside is wide open. The only thing that stopped senior Terry Baggett from having a bigger day (74 yards) is that he only got the ball six times. Senior Tony Giovanneli, senior Raymond Maples and junior Matt Giachinta all scored and looked great. While we were hoping for bigger numbers from Maples, we were happy to see him play at all as he was playing with a sore hamstring.
Senior quarterback Angel Santiago had a mixed day. He was fabulous in the air completing all six passes for 96 yards. We don’t remember such a passing performance from an Army quarterback ever. There was not a ball that was thrown further than 10 yards downfield, but the ability to get the ball where defenders are not will really help this offense. Santiago fumbled on the first drive as the defender put his helmet on the ball. Santiago’s second turnover came in the fourth quarter when he took the ball to the outside and pitched it as he was being hit. Santiago gained 29 yards on 12 carries. He was hesitant to pitch the ball early in the game, but once he did, the running game took off.
The defense gave up 549 yards. However this is slightly misleading as Army turned over the ball twice and the Bison recovered an on-side kick. The Bison ran 79 plays and this would have been cut to 65 without those three possession giveaways.
The safeties and cornerbacks, senior Geoff Bacon, senior Hayden Pierce, sophomore Josh Jenkins and junior Chris Carnegie had a great day. They were in man coverage for most of the day and on most plays QB Joe Licata had to throw underneath the coverage. Jenkins had two interceptions and Carnegie had one. All four players had at least five tackles. Linebacker Jeremy Timpf had a great day, making 11 tackles and sophomore Andrew King had seven.
The defensive line was good, only allowing 153 yards on the ground. More importantly, they were making tackles at or near the line of scrimmage. Their ability to hold the line and pursue was something that we have not seen for many years at West Point. The sore point was sacks. The front three did not get to the quarterback once. The rush was even contained when they sent five after the quarterback. It is early though.
Overall, the Army team fought adversity and got out to a huge 47-17 lead. They allowed the Bison to make a game of it - a more practiced team would have closed this game out early. There are many things that need to be improved upon, but after one game, the Army nation is ecstatic with the prospects for a winning season.
Who is favored?
Stanford is favored by 28 points.
What to look for?
Last year, the Cardinal visited West Point, were taken aback by the institution and the quality of the individual cadets. The Cardinal played a conservative game and
everyone was happy with the gentlemanly effort.
This year Army will be bigger and stronger, but we don’t think they are ready to play top 20 football just two weeks into the Monken Era.
The Army Defense will have fits with the Hogan/Montgomery combination. But the Cardinal would much rather run the ball and control the clock. With both running prone offenses we don’t expect a high scoring game. We expect the Cardinal offense to be successful more often than not and for their very disciplined and fast defense to contain the vaunted Army running attack.
In the end, we think that it will be a well-played game. The score will look similar to last year, but Stanford will probably be much sorer and the respect that they have for the Cadets will reflect in their performance on the field.
Final Score – Stanford 31– Army 14 (predictions in 2014, 1-0)
Game will be shown on the PAC 12 Network @ 5:00 EST.
Key Matchups: Army versus Stanford
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