Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army's Report Card: Tulane

The Army Black Knights fell to Tulane 34-31 on Saturday at Michie Stadium. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler grades the Black Knights in several key team areas.

The Army Black Knights (2-8) dropped another close game 34-31 to Tulane (3-7) at Michie Stadium. Tulane's Andrew DiRocco hit the game-winning 35-yard field goal as time expired allowing the Green wave to end a five-game losing streak. The Black Knights jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but Tulane followed with 28 consecutive points. Army mounted a comeback late in the first half as John Trainor made a terrific 19-yard touchdown catch. With only 44 seconds to go in the first half, Kenneth Brinson returned Andy Davidson's blocked punt 21 yards for a score cutting Tulane's half time lead to 28-21. Army's Ahmad Bradshaw on third and goal from the 11 hit Edgar Poe for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Monken called for a fake extra point and holder A.J. Schurr scored the two point conversion but it was wiped out by offsetting penalties. The Black Knights settled for the extra point to tie the game at 31-31 with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter. Tulane then drove for the winning field goal.  Army took the field carrying both American and French flags after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

PASSING OFFENSE: B+

Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw completed 6-of-10 passes for 121 yards with two touchdown passes. Bradshaw's first throw was behind the line of scrimmage to John Trainor and was counted as a run. His next throw on the opening drive was an incompletion to Edgar Poe who was stumbling after contact with cornerback and couldn't haul in the pass. Joe Walker threw a 4th-and-11-yards halfback option back to Ahmad Bradshaw for a touchdown but it was called back due to a DeAndre Bell clipping penalty. Still it was enough for a first down and Army scored on the opening drive. The next drive began with slotback John Trainor (3 rec, 81yds., TD) catching a 31-yard reception of a Bradshaw play action pass.  Later on same drive Bradshaw overthrew Trainor who was covered in the end zone. He probably would have been better off checking down to the open slotback in the flat. On fourth down Army faked the field goal for some reason and DeAndre Bell's pass to Kelvin White was caught out of bounds as the Black Knights got nothing out of their second drive. On Army's third drive Trainor made a great diving 31-yard reception of a Bradshaw pass that was overthrown. The following drive Bradshaw hit Tyler Campbell for a 17-yard pass to move the chains on third down. Late in the first half John Trainor showed off his excellent hands again as he made a great catch in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown reception of a Bradshaw pass that narrowly went over the hands of a Tulane defender. It allowed Army to cut the lead to 28-14 with 1:40 left in the first half.

Army first pass attempt of second half resulted in a sack and a fumble but Army center Matt Hugenberg recovered it. On Army's final drive Ahmad connected with Edgar Poe twice. He opened the drive with a twelve yard reception. Poe (2 rec, 23 yds., TD) ended the touchdown drive when he made a nice catch of Bradshaw's back shoulder pass to for the touchdown that tied the game. Army's offensive line allowed two sacks and did a solid job against Tulane's huge athletic defensive line.   

RUSHING OFFENSE: C     

Army ran for 216 rushing yards, averaged 3.9 yards per carry and scored just one rushing touchdown. While a ‘C’ grade may seem generous remember this was a Tulane defensive from seven that held Navy's option attack to just 133 rushing yards.   Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw ran 23 times for 72 yards and scored a touchdown. Ahmad seemed to have his burst back after battling an ankle injury. Bradshaw ripped off a 41-yard run that set up the Trainor touchdown pass. Bradshaw missed a number of reads but ran hard and broke tackles. His main issue was fumbling officially three times, losing one, but he fumbled on two other center exchanges. Ahmad was pulling out too quickly from under center rather than riding forward as a triple option quarterback needs to do. He was hit by Green Wave defensive tackle Tanzel Smart as he went to pitch the ball and the costly fumble was way behind the motion slotback. Parry Nickerson recovered the loose ball and raced 48 yards into the end zone to give Tulane a 21-7 lead. 

Plebe slotback Christian Drake showed the speed we discussed in the R-day report on the opening drive. Drake ripped off a 66-yard run to Tulane 6-yard line but it was shorted 19 yards due to a Edgar Poe holding penalty. Drake had five carries for 69 yards. John Trainor had three carries for 6 yards. Tyler Campbell (3 att., 22 yds.) had a  key seven yard gain on the final drive. Joe Walker had three carries for eight yards.

Fullback  Aaron Kemper was smoother by the Tulane huge defensive line all game as he carried 13 times for just 16 yards.  Fellow B-back Matt Gianchinta ran three times for 16 yards. Drue Harris had two carries for five yards. Brent Davis probably would have been better off giving Gianchinta more carries against the big Tulane front seven. Elijah St. Hillarie had his first carry this year for five yards. Army's offensive line battled but the fumbles kept the offense off schedule too often.    

PASSING DEFENSE: C

Tulane's quarterback Tanner Lee completed 14-of-29 passes for 252 yards, two touchdowns and Army picked him off. The Black Knights did a solid job in coverage most of the game but were killed by big plays. Brandon Jackson (4 tackles, Sack, INT, PD) picked off a tipped ball to set up a field goal. His sack forced a punt. Senior cornerback Chris Carnegie was benched after he sat on Veal's inside move and allowed him to beat him deep for a 90-yard touchdown pass. Marcus Hyatt (PD) replaced him. Both Hyatt and Rhyan England (4 tackles, PD) were credited with pass breakups when they seemed to hit the receiver early. Xavier Moss had six tackles and broke up a pass but was embarrassingly run over on Kendall Ardoin on his 15-yard touchdown reception. Moss is often late providing deep help over the top. Kenneth Brinson made three tackles, one for a loss and should have picked off a pass. Brinson also forced the tackle back on Jackson's blitz giving him a clean shot at the quarterback. Tevin Long, one tackle, was more lucky than good when he was beat on a deep pass but the ball was dropped. The secondary played better in the second half as they had a total of five pass breakups but they couldn't stop Tulane when they needed to do it with the game on the line.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C

Army allowed 115 yards and a 4.1 average per carry and just one touchdown. They played solidly 90 percent of the snaps but gave up too many big plays. On the final drive when in their nickel package they gave up 24 costly rushing yards which allowed the Green Wave to kick the game winning field goal.  Hilliard had a 23-yard run on the second Tulane touchdown. They also allowed Josh Rounds to race untouched for a 25-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Mike linebacker Andrew King led the Black Knights with seven tackles and had a tackle for a loss. Jeremy Timpf (6 tackles) shot the gap to combine with King and dropped Lazedrick Thompson for two-yard loss on third down to force Tulane to settle for a field goal that made it 31-24. Jordan Smith made four tackles including a six yard loss on the opening series after Tulane fumbled. John Voit did a solid job holding up against the run with four tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+

Kicker Daniel Grochowski made his only attempt, a 38-yard field goal. Grochowski pooched his first kick off and Max Regan made a nice tackle at the ten yard line. Punter Alex Tardieu made three punts for 40.3 yards per punt. Snapper Calen Holt air mailed a snap over Tardieu's head. Alex made a smart play of scrambling outside of the tackle box and throwing the ball away. Still the poor field position led to a short touchdown drive. Army linebacker Andy Davidson blocked a punt and linebacker Kenneth Brinson scooped the ball up at the 21-yard line and ran in for the touchdown to get the Black Knights back in the game. Edgar Poe returned one punt four yards. Marcus Hyatt returned three kickoffs for an average of  20.3. He had one nice return of 28 yards. Cole Macek made a nice hit on opening kickoff of second half. Justin Fahn made a good tackle on a punt return. Army failed on its fake field goal attempt and a penalty cost them a successful two point conservation on a fake extra point.     

COACHING: C+

Jeff Monken team started well but continues to make too many mental and physical errors to close the deal. I didn't like his fake field goal up 7-0. Why not take the chip shot field goal and go up two scores? After turning the ball over on downs three plays later Tulane hit the 90 yard touchdown pass and momentum had swung as they scored 28 unanswered points. You could argue going for it on fourth-and-1 after being stopped cold two previous times since the field goal was 45 yards but it would have changed the game and forced Tulane to have to score a touchdown to beat you. His going for a two point conversion after the final touchdown made no sense to me even if it worked despite being called back on a penalty. Army had owned the second half at that point so why be afraid of overtime? In addition A.J. Schurr, the holder he had run the fake, was so banged up he wasn't the back-up QB yesterday. That's being "aggressive" with no common sense. Monken likes to go for it but it cost his team in the end as a field goal beat them.

Offensive coordinator Brent Davis did an excellent job in preparing his team and obviously studied what Tulane did against Navy. He did a nice job managing the passing game and getting the backs to the perimeter. Army did a nice job on the last drive using the B gap to run the fullback for some positive yards away from the cluttered middle of the line.  Defensive Coordinator Jay Bateman's defense had a great first series then the wheels fell off the rest of the half. They rebounded in the second half. Army was generally solid on defense but was hurt by allowing too many big plays. They aren’t able to get the key stops when they need it.

OVERALL GRADE: C+

It was another disappointing loss in a season full of close losses. Once again Army was hurt by fumbles, allowing too many big plays, questionable coaching decisions and not being able to finish the game. Army had a chance to win but again came up short.


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