The Army Black Knights (2-0) took care of business on Saturday in their win over the Rice Owls (0-2). It was a huge win for the Black Knights who are now 2-0 for the first time in two decades. Here is how the units handled business in the team's home opener.
PASSING OFFENSE: C
The passing offense is exactly what it needs to be at this point. Ahmad Bradshaw was better in week 2 than he was in week 1, hitting three of his five passes for 55 yards. Chris Carter once again saw some playing time and he was a perfect one of one through the air for 11 yards. Edgar Poe was the leading receiver with two catches for 46 yards. Until Army needs to pass they will not, but when that time comes Poe is a very capable big play guy.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B+
The rushing offense gets high marks once again as it carried the team while being mistake free. Andy Davidson was the star as he rushed for 107 yards and three touchdowns, with Bradshaw chipping in 71 yards on 17 carries. Army again had a bunch of medium long runs, with six players having rushing plays of 17 yards or more. The key though was the lack of turnovers as Army completed two games in a row without giving up the ball on offense for the first time in three seasons.
PASSING DEFENSE: B-
The Black Knights passing defense was excellent other than one Tyler Stehling to Connor Cella connection on the Owls third play from scrimmage. That 64-yard touchdown pass accounted for almost a third of the yardage that Rice managed through the air all game, as the Army defense rallied after its early mistake to shut down Cella and the other Rice passing options. A key play in the game was a 3rd-and-7 at the Army 41 when the game was tied at 7-7 in the first quarter. The Rice pass was complete to Darik Dillard, but Army swarmed to the ball and stopped the play for a gain of five yards. Rice punted and was never in the game after that point.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B-
This is another area where one big play ruined an otherwise outstanding game. The Black Knights held Rice to 92 total yards on 21 carries at an average of 4.4 yards per carry. The big play in question was a 37-yard Austin Walter touchdown. That made the game 31-14 near the start of the second half. It was a bad time for the play to happen too as it took place on the first play of a Rice drive after an average 9at best) punt. Those mental lapses cannot happen against the best teams Army has yet to face on the schedule.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
This C grade is based almost entirely on the issues Army is having at punter. Nick Schrage punted six times on the day for 203 yards at an average of 33.8 yards per kick. Compare that to the 44.8 yards per punt of the Owls Jack Fox and Army is losing 11 yards every time in the battle for field position. Schrage had some decent punts, but he also had an 18 yarder and a 26 yarder. Those mistakes cannot happen. On the plus side, the grade is boosted by Calen Holt blocking a punt, even though the offense failed to take advantage of the opportunity for seven.
Another win means another A grade for Jeff Monken as Army was able to play this game exactly how it wanted. The Black Knights controlled the ball for over two-thirds of the game, 40:12 compared to Rice at 19:49=8, running the option and generally frustrating the Owls. He also again stuck with Bradshaw as the hot hand with Carter only coming in for one series when the result was in question. This is the blueprint Army needs to stick to in order to keep winning games.
OVERALL GRADE: B+
The overall components might not have been as good as last week, but Army was still very much the dominant force in this game. A couple of extra plays being made here and there, especially the two mistakes on defense and the drive after the blocked punt, would have seen this grade increased to an A. As it is Army can be very proud with the start the team has made to the 2016 season.