Army Report Card: Wake Forest

Army fell to Wake Forest 24-21 on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knight's performance in several key team areas.

Army Black Knights dropped a disappointing 24-21 game to Wake Forest in North Carolina. Army had taken a 21-14 lead into the halftime. Wake Forest shut out Army in the second half and scored ten points in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Army continues to be plagued by costly turnovers, penalties, mental mistakes and the inability to finish a game. Army head coach Jeff Monken called for some aggressive but questionable onside kicks in the first half that gave the Demon Deacons a short field. Army out gained Wake Forest but the turnovers and penalties cost the Black Knights a very winnable game. Army's record drops to 1-2 while Wake Forest improves to 2-2.

PASSING OFFENSE: C
Army quarterback Angel Santiago completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 passing yards and was sacked once. Angel’s first pass attempt on the second series was a deep out pattern to Raymond Maples (1 rec. for 9-yards) which was a nice throw into a tight window but just out of bounds. He failed to connect with Maples on the final pass play of the game on a failed desperation flea flicker. Santiago was sacked at the end of the first half when Army used max protection but the receiver ran the wrong route. Officially Santiago wasn't sacked on the late fourth quarter drive but he was scrambling after pulling down the ball just past the line of scrimmage when he was hit and fumbled.

Xavier Moss caught two passes for 9 yards. Moss caught a 4-yard option touchdown pass from slotback Joe Walker off a fly sweep. It was a nice throw by Walker.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B
The Black Knights ran for 341 yards, averaged 5.8 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Angel Santiago ran for a career high 125 rushing yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown. Santiago did a nice job with his reads generally and took advantage of Wake Forest overplaying the pitch back to rip off his season long 37-yard run which set up Army second touchdown run.

B-back Larry Dixon ran 16 times for 92 rushing yards. Dixon scored the Black Knights first touchdown. Raymond Maples (5 for 50 yards) made a nice slide step to avoid a tackler on a 32-yard run that set up the Black Knights opening touchdown. Larry Dixon made a terrific block on the play. Terry Baggett (4 for 40 yards) also had his best run, for 23-yards also on the first touchdown drive.

Senior Trenton Turrentine finally saw some game action and made the most of it. Turrentine powered through one WF defender breaking a tackle for a nice 21-yard run. Backup B-back Matt Giachinta had five carries for 13 yards. He hasn't done much with the ball. Tony Giovannelli had only two carries for six yards and didn't see as much time in the rotation. Xavier Moss took a reverse for 5-yards but was short of the first down.

I was a little surprised they used Joe Walker in such a key moment for his second carry. The pitch was perfect and he should have scored. His failure to cover the fumble and lose the field goal attempt made it a mess. Having seen Walker at USMAPS he is a solid player who can help so it was a tough way to break in.

The offensive line penalties hurt. Center Matt Hugenberg was flagged for the costly 15-yard penalty when Santiago had run close to a first down on the late key drive. It was Stephen Shumaker who engaged the defensive tackle with the illegal cut block double team. Hugenberg did have a costly holding penalty on the drive that ended with Walker's fumble. The perimeter blocking was much better than last week.

PASSING DEFENSE: C
Wake Forest's John Wolford completed 25-of-35 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. The Black Knights played a lot of nickel defense and allowed Wolford to get in a rhythm early. They brought some pressure but Stephen Ricciardi (4 tackles, 2 TFL, sack) recorded their only sack.

Inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf (8 tackles, 2 TFL INT, PD ) had an interception before the half off a tipped ball by a receiver covered by Geoff Bacon. Bacon (6 tackles) made a nice play on that tipped ball but has been uneven in coverage. Matt James made a leaping over Bacon on the first WF touchdown drive. Bacon had tough pass interference called against him on third-and-long in the end zone. Hayden Pierce (4 tackles) was beat for a long 36-yard pass when he was outrun by E.J. Scott to set up Wake Forest's second touchdown pass. James Kelly (2 tackles) stumbled trying to cover Cam Serigne and lost him on a 6-yard touchdown catch.

Cornerback Josh Jenkins (6 tackles,TFL, PD) had a scary head on collision breaking up a pass to Wake's tight end. Chris Carnegie (2 tackles) had good coverage in the end zone to force a field goal. Mike Ugenyi (4 tackles, TFL, PD) had nice penetration on one play and was able to knock down a pass to force a punt.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C
The Black Knights run defense allowed 100 rushing yards and the Demon Deacons averaged 3.3 per carry and scored a touchdown. While that sounds great, it was five times their normal rushing totals. The defense played a lot of nickel which gave Wake Forest some running lanes. Army could not stop Wake Forest on the final series on a third-and-eight run to give themselves one more chance.

Steven Johnson made 7 tackles and shows good range at safety. The staff has discussed moving Bacon to outside linebacker to get him on the field more. Andrew King (7 tackles) did a solid job filling against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Punter Alex Tardieu had the best game of his career. He nailed four punts for a 45.2-yard average. He placed three punts inside the 20-yard line and hit another 54-yards. Dan Grochowski missed his only field goal after a bad snap. He had a touchback and kicked one out of bounds on two of the onside kick/pooch kick attempts. Josh Jenkins doesn't see much running room on returns. Army's kick coverage needed a tackle by Luke Prouix to avoid a huge kickoff return.

COACHING: D
Jeff Monken’s team looked out of synch early with two poor opening offensive possessions and early on defense. I understand the reason for playing so much nickel defense but even a bad ACC offensive line can run the ball when faced with a numbers mismatch. Wake Forest entered the game averaging 22 rushing yards a game yet on their first touchdown they ran four times for 40 yards and a score. The Black Knights may have been better off in their base defense and blitzing more.

My bigger issue was Monken trying to force the issue with two on side kicks. Wake Forest did have some flaws in their kick return team but the tactic made no sense to me. Wake Forest is a team whose offense came in struggling in both run and pass blocking. Why give them a short field? They drove 49 yards in just five plays for their second touchdown. I would have made them earn it.

I was surprised offensive coordinator Brent Davis called Joe Walker's number on that key third-and-8 play from their own 12. It was well blocked and would have been a touchdown but Walker dropped the pitch then failed to cover it. I would have gone with one of the senior slotbacks in that spot. This is no knock on Walker, who can develop into a solid player, but he had just one carry entering the game. Davis’ halfback option pass by Walker off a fly sweep was a nice call.

A staff's job is to give their team the best chance to win. I thought there were a lot of questionable coaching decisions in this one. For all the talk about Monken instilling discipline the reality is that this team had seven penalties for 57 yards. That's worse than the last few years.

OVERALL GRADE: C+
The Black Knights should have won this game but two fumbles, penalties, mental mistakes and poor coaching decisions let a poor Wake Forest’s team beat them late in the fourth quarter. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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