Army Report Card: Western Kentucky

Army fell to Western Kentucky 52-24 on Saturday in Kentucky. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knights performance in several key team areas.

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers rolled over the Army Black Knights 52-24 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Western Kentucky running back Leon Allen broke the Conference USA single-game rushing yards record with 345 rushing yards and he scored three touchdowns. The Hilltoppers (5-5) produced 561 yards of total offense. Army actually forced a three and out to open the game. The Black Knights took a 7-0 lead on their twelve play 64-yard opening drive. WKU tied the score with a twelve yard Leon Allen touchdown run. Special teams mistakes hurt Army's chance to compete. A bad snap over punter Alex Tardieu's head gave WKU a very short field and a few plays later a 14-7 lead. Daniel Grochowski made a 43-yard field goal but missed badly from 22 yards in the second quarter. Brandon Doughty converted a 45-yard Hail Mary pass on the final play of the first half when the ball was tipped and caught by Willie Mcneal to give the Hilltoppers a 24-10 halftime lead. The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter but Western Kentucky pulled away in the fourth quarter. Army's record this season drops to 3-7.

PASSING OFFENSE: C
Army quarterback Angel Santiago completed 3-of-6 passes for 40 yards. Santiago completed both of his passes on the opening touchdown drive. Angel scrambled and hit Edgar Poe for 12-yards on third-and-7 for a first down to keep the drive alive Poe made a nice leaping catch. Santiago then hit Joe Walker for a first down with a nice back shoulder throw for 14 yards. His next pass was an incomplete Santiago was lucky he wasn't picked off when he forced a throw to Kelvin White into double coverage. Edgar Poe was interfered on another pass attempt which gave Army a first down. In the second half Santiago made an inspired scramble to avoid a sack and hit Edgar Poe (2 rec. for 26 yards) for 14 yards but it was short of the first down on third and long. On Army's final offensive play he threw the ball way over the head of Xavier Moss and out of bounds. The Army offensive line had trouble handling the WKU pass rush and Santiago was sacked twice.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B
The Black Knights ran for 293 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. The WKU's defense is physical and challenges option teams. They are now 4-0 against Army and Navy the last two years. They can be vulnerable to the big play but it’s difficult to sustain drives against the Hilltoppers . Larry Dixon ran 15 times for a team leading 131 rushing yards and a touchdown. Dixon demonstrated great power on breaking free on his 58-yard touchdown run. It looks like Dixon's nagging groin injury has healed. He was in top form and the WKU speedy secondary couldn't catch him. Fellow B-back Matt Giachinta had the best game of his career with 13 carries for 63 yards. Aaron Kemper was credited with a five yard run but actually had another 16-yard run that was listed as Dixon's.

Quarterback Angel Santiago (19 att., 78 yards, 2 TDs) did a solid job with his reads. WKU understands how to defend option attacks and their defense does a nice job of taking away the pitch back when playing option teams. He had a season long 54-yard touchdown run. Raymond Maples saw two carries for 21 yards. He had a terrific block on Santiago long touchdown run. Trenton Turrentine ran over two tacklers on a 16-yard run. Joe Walker had two carries in the first half for 9 yards. Terry Baggett was a non-factor with three carries for five yards. Last year Baggett ran for 102 yards and a touchdown against Western Kentucky. Army's offensive line has benefited from the return of Drew Hennessy, who has been battling injuries, to play right tackle.

PASSING DEFENSE: D
Western Kentucky's Brad Doughty completed 16-of-25 for 178 yards and three touchdowns. The Black Knights secondary, especially its cornerbacks, made a few plays and forced the three WKU punts. This was only the second game that Doughty threw for less than 297 passing yards all season. Once Jeff Brohm realized that Army was overmatched against run he just handed the ball off to Allen. Still the Black Knights made some plays against an explosive offensive team. Cornerback Josh Jenkins (4 tackles, PD) drove on the ball to break up a third down pass to force a punt. Chris Carnegie (5 tackles, PD) made a very nice play leaping to breaking up a post pattern to Taylor. Chris was beat by Jared Dangerfield on third-and-goal for a six yard touchdown reception off a in cut route on the back line of the end zone. Carnegie also was victimized on the last touchdown when Doughty was able to roll out and had all day to find Norris at the flag for a score.

It was poor inexcusable execution in failing to defend the Hail Mary pass. Edgar Poe was used on defense as a safety and he collided with Josh Jenkins. Safety Rhyan England (6 tackles) was the guilty of watching the play instead of playing his man which left Willie McNeil all alone to catch the tipped ball for the touchdown. Andrew King (4 tackles, Sack) and James Kelly (2 tackles, QBH) had a back-to-back sack and pressure respectively to force a punt. Stephen Ricciardi (4 TT, QBH) created pressure off the edge to force a three and out on the opening series. The secondary had some positive moments and made Doughty work but still he threw three touchdown passes including the Hail Mary break down which drops this from a "C" to a "D" grade.

RUSHING DEFENSE: F
The Black Knights were run over for 383 rushing yards, allowed 9.3 per carry and four rushing touchdowns. Leon Allen had a career day. He broke the Conference USA single-game rushing yards record with 345 yards. Sophomore inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf led Army with ten tackles but Allen was running downhill all day. Army was dominated at the point of attack. They were unable to hold gaps or get off blocks. WKU widened the Black Knights with its spread scheme and its zone blocking offensive line opened huge running lanes. The defensive line of Glover (2 tackles), Ugenyi (1 tackle) and Joe Drummond were dominated at the point. John Voit held edge on one running play to tackle Allen short of the first down and hold them to a field goal. There is not much to say here. It was a mismatch.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F
Punter Alex Tardieu had three punts for a 36.7 yard average. He placed two punts inside the twenty yard line and had a chance for another to be downed inside the five yard but Josh Jenkins missed it. Dan Grochowski hit the ball well from 43-yards on a made field goal then badly missed a chip shot from 22 yards. The snap was low but Schurr did a nice job of getting the ball down. Cale Brewer had one touch back on five kickoffs and made two tackles including one hit that would make a linebacker proud. The Black Knights did a solid job returning WKU's short pop-up kickoffs, including a nice lateral to Turrentine from Jenkins, except for one ugly kickoff. Josh Jenkins made a huge mistake when he called off the others then pulled up on short a pop-up kickoff and failed to field the ball. It set up WKU's last touchdown. Long snapper Conner Farley had a rough game with a bad snap on the field goal and he air mailed the ball so far over Tardieu's head that he never had a chance to catch the snap. It set up WKU for an easy touchdown. New punt returner Edgar Poe had two punt returns for just three yards. Army just doesn't block on punt returns.

COACHING: C
Jeff Monken and his staff had a sound game plan but on defense Jay Bateman's group in the front seven couldn't get off blocks. Brent Davis's offense did a solid job but they couldn't keep pace. The staff gave them a chance to complete but it was the "Army football being Army football" comedy of errors that blew the game open.

OVERALL GRADE: D
The Black Knights couldn't stop the run or match up with Western Kentucky's team speed on defense. The special teams handed WKU two easy touchdowns. This is one of those games that highlighted the talent gap between Army and an athletic FBS team. Still there is no reason that Army continues to make boneheaded mistakes that have plagued this school the past few decades with the sole exception being the 2010 season. Maybe it’s something in the water from the Lusk reservoir.

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