Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Army Report Card: Rice

Army fell to Rice 38-31 in Houston on Saturday. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knight's performance in several critical areas.

The Army Black Knights (2-6) battled back from an early 14-point deficit to tie Rice at 31-31 after Daniel Grochowski hit a 19-yard field goal with 2:13 left in the game. Rice (4-3) responded with a 7-play, 75-yard game-winning drive to take a 38-31 lead with just 24 seconds left in the game.  Rice took a quick 14-0 lead after scoring on its opening drive and stuffing Army at the mesh forcing a fumble on its first play which they quickly converted into a 14-0 lead. Army got on the scoreboard when it put together a season long 97-yard touchdown drive set up by A.J. Schurr's 71-yard run. B-back Aaron Kemper's 69-yard run to Rice six set up Schurr’s tough six yard touchdown run to make the score 21-14. Rice added a field goal as time expired in first half with 24-14 lead. Army dominated the third quarter as a John Trainor 23-yard touchdown run narrowed the gap to 24-21. Rice outscored Army 14-10 in a wide open fourth quarter for victory.

PASSING OFFENSE: D

Army completed only 2-of-10 passes for 18 passing yards with a touchdown. Schurr was 2-of-8 for 18 yards. A.J. Schurr first pass attempt was a nice 26-yard pass in the endzone to wide receiver Edgar Poe but Rice cornerback JT Blassingame made a very nice play of placing his arm between Poe's to stop him from hauling in the pass. Two plays later Schurr screen pass was dropped by Matt Gianchinta. Schurr was credited with a two yard completion when as holder on a fake punt with his shuttle pass  to Kelvin White that was short of the first down.

The next series ended in a three-and-out when Schurr overthrew Poe down the sideline. Army scored on the next drive when AJ Schurr hit wide receiver DeAndre Bell for a 16 -yard touchdown reception. Bell showed nice strength overpowering the smaller Rice cornerback to break a tackle and score. It was Bell's first career touchdown reception. The final thow of first half was a go route that Schurr overthrew to DeAndre Bell and it fell incomplete. Bell was covered on the play.

In the third quarter with Rice playing eight in the box Schurr missed John Trainor who had his man beat but he under threw the pass in the rainy conditions allowing the safety to come over the top to break up the pass. During the same series on third and long Schurr was hit as he threw and the ball wobbled out of bounds away from DeAndre Bell.

Kelvin White replaced Schurr on the final drive because of his arm strength and the fact that AJ had absorbed a cheap shot late hit on Kemper's touchdown run that wasn't called. Both of White's passes were incomplete. His Hail Mary pass failed to reach the end zone. The offensive line allowed no sacks and gave Schurr time to throw on all but one occasion.   

RUSHING OFFENSE: B+

Army ran for 378 rushing yards, averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored three rushing touchdowns. It was a good effort against a team that knows how to defend the option.  Quarterback A.J. Schurr ran 23 times for 117 yards and scored a touchdown. It was Schurr’s best performance of the year. The lost fumble on the first play was when he and Gianchinta were blown up on the mesh wasn't his fault. A.J. did a good job avoiding fumbling in bad weather which has haunted him in the past. He also hung tough as he was bloodied and battered. Rice took a number of cheap shots at him after he handed off the ball. A.J broke two tackles on his career-long 71 yards that set up Army first touchdown. He ran hard and broke a tackle on his six-yard touchdown run. His decision making was solid. 

Fullback Aaron Kemper led Army with 129 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown. Kemper showed nice run vision and a good burst on his 69-yard run down to the six yard line to set up A.J. Schurr's touchdown. He broke two tackles on his 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Fellow B-back Matt Gianchinta ran four times for 16 yards. Drue Harris had three carries for seven yards. 

Slotback Jordan Asberry ran three times for 41 yards. His 19 yard yard run helped set up Kemper's touchdown. John Trainor had 41 yards on five carries. Trainor showed his hands and speed on his 23-yard touchdown run. He did a nice job taking the pitch off his hip and never missing a stride. Kelvin White scrambled twice for 24 yards at quarterback. Nick Black had no room as he gained three yards on two carries. This was a good effort by the offense but the inability to sustain some drives and score a touchdown from the Rice 10-yard line keeps this grade from an "A".     

PASSING DEFENSE: C

Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson completed 20-of-30 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Army forced five punts but couldn't stop the Owls when they needed. Army played its nickel defense most of the game. Brandon Jackson (8 tackles, QBH) was beat for the game winner when he ran into his own man on Zach Wright's game winning catch. Jackson competed but was unable to make any plays in the fourth quarter when Rice completed a number of passes in front of him to convert third downs. Rhyan England (9 tackles, PD) played probably his best game this season.  England laid a big hit on Rice tight end Cole Hunt to force a third down incompletion and a Rice punt. England read play on bubble screen on opening series and just missed a pick. Xavier Moss (5 tackles) had a rough game. Moss missed a number of tackles and failed to provide deep help on the game winning touchdown. Moss fell down on Rice's Darik Dillard 34-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive.

Cornerback Chris Carnegie had good coverage on Temi Alaka but was outleaped on his 52-yard reception that  allowed the field goal before the half. John Voit made two tackles and had a huge forced fumble that Alex Aukerman (4 tackles, TF, FR) recovered to set up the game tying field goal.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C

Army allowed 165 yards and a 4.7 average per carry and three touchdowns. Jeremy Timpf led Army with 10 tackles. Timpf chased down a scrambling Jackson short of the first down at the start of the third quarter to force a punt. Mike linebacker Andrew King (7 tackles, TFL) tackled  running back Samuel Stewart for three yard loss to Army eight on third-and-goal to hold Rice to a field goal at the end of the first half.

Tevin Long (6 tackles, TFL) made a nice tackle for a loss on Rice running back Jowan Davis during a defensive series that ended in a punt. Jordan Smith (3 tackles, FF) forced a fumble that was recovered by John Voit and led to Trainor's touchdown. After the first two series when Rice jumped out to a 14-0 lead the Black Knights held Rice to a 3.9 average and forced punts or fumbles in 7of the next 10 series to allow the Army offense to battle back and tie the game. The two long runs by Darik Dillard of 20 and 12 yards respectively were killers on the final drive.   

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Kicker Daniel Grochowski made the game tying 19-yard field goal late in the game. Alex Tardieu did a great job taking the long snap off his hip and getting it down. Grochowski did a nice job on the onside kick and probably would have recovered it himself if it wasn't for the wet turf but plebe Spencer Sheff recovered the fumble. Grochowski had two touchbacks on his five kickoffs. Punter Alex Tardieu had an inconsistent day in the bad weather averaging 36.4 yards on five punts and placed one inside the 20 yard line. He hit his one punt 51 yards where Steven Johnson made a nice tackle. Calen Holt was hit with a bogus targeting penalty and a late hit. Neither where true as Holt tackled Rice's Stewart when he was still up and hit his back. The targeting penalty was reverse but the bogus late hit penalty was allowed to stand. Freshman Marcus Hyatt had a two kickoff returns for 39 yards. Edgar Poe returned a punt eight yards. The coverage team allowed a 36-yard return to open the game but were good otherwise. Freshman Max Regan had a nice hit on a kickoff. Liked the play design on fake field goal but White couldn't beat the only man who wasn't blocked.     

COACHING: B

Jeff Monken should be proud of his team the way they battled back on the road after falling behind 14-0. We have seen a lot of these games go South quickly for Army but they battled and hung around. While I liked the play design on the failed fake field goal I would have kicked it there. The onside kick was classic Monken being aggressive on special teams.  Offensive coordinator Brent Davis’ group did a nice job and the blocking was the best we've seen since Eastern Michigan. I liked the play calls, the mixing in the heavy formation and the stretching the field against Rice playing eight in the box. Too bad A.J didn't have a better day throwing the ball. 378 rushing yards is a good success against the option.

 Defensive Coordinator Jay Bateman's defense rebounded from a rough start that put them in a hold. They then forced five punts and two fumbles to allow the Black Knights to rally and tie. The last defensive series was a disappointment allowing Rice to drive for the win.   

OVERALL GRADE: C+

It was a disappointing loss in a game effort that saw Army mount a comeback. The good news is the running game was able to get untracked and make some big plays.  Army had a chance to win but just came up short.


ArmySports.com Top Stories