Army Report Card: Connecticut

Army fell to Connecticut 22-17 on Saturday in East Hartford. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knights performance in several key team areas.

The Army Black Knights lost to the Connecticut Huskies 22-17 at Rentschler Field. The Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs threw for 270 yards and UConn had two touchdown runs. Army's offense revolved around a few big plays but they struggled to maintain the running game all day. The Huskies out gained Army 415 yards to 265 and held onto the ball for 39 minutes. Army's defense struggled to get the Huskies off the field but allowed just two touchdowns. The bigger issue was the inability of Army to put together drives as they had only nine first downs. Army's record drops to 0-2 for the first time since 2012.

PASSING OFFENSE: D
Ahmad Bradshaw completed 1-of-3 passes for five passing yards. His only completion was a shovel pass to Giachinta. He missed a wide open John Trainor deep on a post pattern. Ahmad's other pass attempt was knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

A.J. Schurr replaced him at quarterback in the two minute offense. Schurr hit on 2-of-5 passes for 80 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Schurr made a very nice throw rolling out to Joe Walker. Joe eluded the defender and showed good speed on the 71-yard touchdown reception. A.J. completed one of three passes to tight end Kelvin White. The first one was batted down. He hit White for 9 yards to set up the Walker touchdown pass. On the last series White dropped a first down pass. On second down with good protection Schurr forced a pass to John Trainor but never read the safety coming over the top and was picked off. The pass never had a chance. The Army pass protection was good all day.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D
The Black Knights rushing offense had just six first downs. They ran for 180 yards and just one score. The offensive line struggled and was unable to sustain its blocks.

Ahmad Bradshaw (16 att., 129 yards, TD) did miss a few reads but ran hard when he had the ball. He showed excellent run vision on his 56-yard touchdown. Ahmad lost 20 yards on his 28-yard run inside the 10-yard line on the opening drive of the second half due to a phantom holding call. Army ended up with no points as a result of the bogus penalty. Bradshaw was lucky he didn't lose a fumble when the ball slipped out of his hands right at the UConn defender but it was battled down and recovered by Joe Walker. Without Bradshaw this would have been a failing grade.

For the second straight game, Army received nothing again from the B-backs as Matt Giachinta (3 att. for 6 yards), Aaron Kemper (4 att. for 11 yards) and plebe Drue Harris (2 att. for 2 yards) found no running room. Harris made a nice block on the lone touchdown run.

The slotbacks didn't see the ball much as the inability to establish the fullback allowed the linebackers to scrap outside. Ahmad was also late a few times with the pitch and kept it himself. Joe Walker had four carries for 24 yards. John Trainor had an eight yard run. Jordan Ashberry (2 att, 6 yards) wasn't able to turn the corner like last week. Wide receiver Deandre Bell had a receiver open on an option pass end around but held the ball and was tackled for a six yard loss.

PASSING DEFENSE: C
The Black Knights allowed UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs to complete 19-of-25 passes for 270 yards. The coverage wasn't always great but give Shirreffs credit for making some nice throws. The UConn receivers made a number of very athletic diving receptions. Chris Carnegie (3 tackles, 2 PD) was called for a questionable pass interference penalty on the second drive that set up Connecticut field goal rather than forcing a punt. Carnegie later forced out the Huskies Tommy Meyers in the end zone to save a touchdown.

Free safety Rhyan England (13 tackles, 2 TFL) was very active but missed some tackles and was beat in coverage a few times. He was much better in run support but missed a sack on a safety blitz when he had a clean shot at quarterback. He later missed tackling Newsome on his touchdown run. Steven Johnson made two tackles but struggled and was replaced. Johnson did break up a pass in the end zone to save a touchdown and force a field goal. His tackling was poor as he whiffed on one clean shot that ended up setting up a UConn touchdown. Johnson had a pass interference penalty that helped a UConn touchdown drive and tied the score at 10-10. Plebe Brandon Jackson replaced him in the second half and played well posting six tackles. Andrew King had a huge game with 9 tackles, 3 sacks and a fumble recovery. Scout.com three-star direct plebe Kenneth Brinson had a huge hit for a loss on Ron Johnson to force UConn to punt. The starter ahead of him, Alex Aukerman, had another quiet game with just two assisted tackles.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C+
The Black Knights defense allowed 145 rushing yards. It did a generally good job as allowed only 3.2 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. This was a solid if unspectacular effort. Jeremy Timpf (9 tackles) helped stuff Johnson on UConn third and one play to give the Black Knights one last chance late in the fourth quarter. Defensive tackle Jordan Smith had the best game of his career with 8 tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked extra point. Smith forced a fumble on the first series of the game that led to Army's initial field goal.

SAM safety Xavier Moss made seven tackles but is still slow to react in space. Moss missed a chance to tackle Newsome well short of the end zone on his touchdown run. Nose guard T.J. Altimalala was in on six tackles and had 2 1/2 for a loss. He did a nice job shooting the A-gaps all game. John Voit made 4 tackles and on one series flushed Shirreffs out of the pocket then ran him down from behind short of the first down marker to force a punt Army started the game strong holding UConn to 10 rushing yards on 13 carries during the first quarter. If the tackling was better this would have been a B-grade. The positioning was much improved but the Black Knights need to finish more plays.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Dan Grochowski hit both his extra points and a 41-yard field goal attempt. Grochowski boomed the ball on his kickoffs producing three touch backs in four tries. Alex Tardieu punted four times for a 43.5 yards per punt average. Tardieu booted a career long 56-yard punt in the first quarter. Jordan Smith blocked a point after touchdown attempt in the first half. Marcus Hyatt had a 35-yard kickoff return. Punt returner Edgar Poe had to settle for just making fair catches. Army did a nice job covering the only kick return. Real nice improvement from the opener.

COACHING: C
Jeff Monken needs to get the offensive line fixed or this will be a long season. Army struggled running the ball even before both guards were hurt. Monken and offensive coordinator Brent Davis end around pass by Bell probably would have worked but he never threw the ball. It wasn't a bad decision there to pass on the long field goal attempt into a cross wind. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman's group needs to improve their tackling. They had trouble on third down but only allowed two touchdowns despite being on the field most of the day. I liked his mixing up his blitzes. I agreed with the decision not to try an on-sides kick and the Black Knights did hold and get the ball back.

OVERALL GRADE: C
It was a tough loss in that the defense hung in enough to give Army a chance but poor tackling, penalties and the inability to run the football consistently led to the defeat. This was a much better effort than the opener but the offense has to get untracked.

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