Army Report Card: Connecticut

Army defeated Connecticut 35-21 on Saturday in New York. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knights performance in several key team areas.

The Army Black Knights beat Connecticut 35-21 at Yankee Stadium in dramatic fashion last Saturday. Army led the entire way and held a two touchdown lead most of the game. Army took a 28-14 after Angel Santiago scored with 4:22 left in the game. UCONN mounted a furious comeback as they scored, recovered the ensuing on-sides kick and drove to the Black Knights six yard line. Chris Carnegie saved the day when he returned his second interception 99-yards for a touchdown. Army's record improves to 3-6 as they earned their first victory at Yankee Stadium since 1960.

PASSING OFFENSE: B+
Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 38 passing yards. All of his throws were directed at Joe Walker. He completed his first pass to Walker for 16-yards. Walker dropped his second throw on a third down seam route that forced Army to punt. Walker caught a 22- yard pass to set up the Black Knights final offensive touchdown. The pass protection was much better this week with Santiago having time to throw.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A
The Black Knights offense was back on track this week. They ran for 325 yards, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored four times. The offensive line played well and did a much better job of sealing the edge and getting to the second level.

Angel Santiago (25 att., 97 yards, 2 TDs) did an excellent job reading the option and distributing the ball. Santiago opened the second touchdown drive with a nice 17-yard run. Santiago lost a fumble when his arm was raked on a tackle. He wasn't trying to force a pitch, unlike what some announcers claimed, but rather he had the ball in front of him with both hands the way all option quarterbacks do and was hit across both arms which jarred the ball free. It proved costly as the Huskies scored on the ensuing drive.

B-back Larry Dixon ran 11 times for 43 yards. Dixon has been bother lately by a strained groin. Matt Giachinta (3 att. for 22 yards) had a nice run for 12-yards off a fullback pitch.

Raymond Maples (6 att., 53 yards) had a 17-yard run on the drive that extended the lead to 21-7. Slotback Joe Walker had his best game with five carries for 31 yards and two touchdowns. Terry Baggett (3 att. for 40 yards) had a key 35-yard run on the opening touchdown drive. Baggett did an outstanding job blocking on the edge. Trenton Turrentine (4 att. for 28 yards) played well as he saw more reps with Tony Giovannelli out. Aaron Kemper ran twice for eight yards.

PASSING DEFENSE: A
The Black Knights allowed UCONN quarterbacks Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle to complete 23-of-37 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Cornerback Chris Carnegie (5 tackles, 2 INT, PD, TD RTN) saved the day as he played the best game of his career with two interceptions, returned the game saving pick for a 99-yard touchdown, knocked down a pass and forced Dhamree Bradley into the boundary for a incompletion to end UCONN's opening drive.

Cornerback Josh Jenkins (7 tackles, PD) did an excellent job in coverage and blew up a bubble screen for a loss. Rhyan England (4 tackles) was beat for a 16- yard touchdown pass when he broke initially the wrong way toward the flag on a post pattern. Timpf had a chance to help him since he had excellent depth on his drop but he initially turned the wrong way. Whitmer placed the ball just out of his reach for the touchdown. England has ability but is a true freshman and is going through some growing pains. Hayden Pierce (2 tackles, PD) played well until he was hurt and missed the second half. Carnegie's first pick came off a Pierce deflection. Hayden Pierce had nice coverage when he broke up pass running step for step with the fast Foxx. Steven Johnson made four tackles after replacing Pierce. Scott Washle (6 tackles) showed good speed at inside linebacker in defending drag routes in front of him. Mike Ugenyi (1 tackle, PD) knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C-
The Black Knights defense allowed 169 rushing yards as they gave up 7.0 yards per carry and a rushing touchdown. This was a poor performance against one of the worse running teams in the nation. The Black Knights were hurt by Whitmer's scrambles when they spread Army out and gave the QB running lanes. I kept the grade above a "D" grade because they shut down Deshon Foxx's option runs and were hurt more by some long runs than run over as they have been in the past. The tackling was a lot better but the Huskies were able to spread the Black Knights to create running room.

Inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf (8 tackles) led the Black Knights in tackles and had a few nice hits. Timpf, like his teammates, was often focused on pass coverage so much that on one play he ran himself out of position as Max Delorenzo had an uncontested lane for 26-yards down to the six yard line to set up UCONN first touchdown. Steven Ricciardi made three tackles and had a tackle for a loss. James Kelly stuffed the dangerous Deshon Foxx when he ran the option at quarterback for no gain. Joe Drummond was in on three tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Dan Grochowski hit all his extra points. Cale Brewer replaced Groch on kickoffs and had no touchbacks in six attempts. Alex Tardieu had two punts that averaged 41 yards with neither returned. Alex placed both inside the twenty yard line and has only seen five of his punts returned all year. New punt returner Xavier Moss discovered what Josh Jenkins dealt with all year. The Black Knights do not block anyone on punt returns. Moss fielded two punts and was dropped immediately. He fair caught the last one. Chris Carnegie had a rather tentative kickoff return for 18 yards. Matt Giachinta was smart to just cover a short kickoff that dropped dead in no man’s land. Holder AJ Schurr made a nice move to avoid a tackler on the fake field goal attempt to gain five yards and the first down. It led to the opening touchdown. Steven Ricciardi made a dumb roughing the punter penalty. He was bailed out the next play by Carnegie’s first interception. The kick coverage team started well but was shaky late allowing two kickoff returns over thirty yards and fumbling the on-sides kick which was recovered by UCONN. The front wall missed a block and the second hop sailed off the hands of AJ Schurr who had leaped a second too soon but couldn't corral the ball.

COACHING: A+
Great job by Jeff Monken and the entire staff to get the team ready to play after being dominated by Air Force. His fake field goal attempt on the opening drive showed Army was playing to win and going for it. You have to believe to achieve is the saying and it starts at the top with Monken. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis did an excellent job with the offensive line this week. I like the use of his heavy formation on Joe Walker's touchdown run near the goal line. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman's unit played well for the second week in a row. His decision to bring pressure led to Carnegie's pick to seal the win.

OVERALL GRADE: A
It was a great rebound victory for Army after three straight losses. The Black Knights played well for 47 minutes then with a 28-14 lead they seemed poised for one of the classic Army football meltdowns. Chris Carnegie saved the day with his pick at the goal line and 99-yard interception return. It was a great victory for a team that needed one in the worse way. It wasn't perfect but it was a great team win that deserves a collective "A" grade

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