The Army Black Knights (3-0) took another step towards bowl eligibility with a monster 66-14 win over UTEP in the Sun Bowl on Saturday evening. It was the most dominant performance we have seen from the Black Knights in many years and the excitement and buzz around this team is palpable at this point. Here is a look at how the various units performed this past weekend.
PASSING OFFENSE: A
The rushing offense will get all the publicity, but the Army passing offense was stunningly productive in its own right on Saturday. Starter Ahmad Bradshaw was 3 of 4 passing the ball for 64 yards, while Malik McGue and Chris Carter were each a perfect 2 of 2. The best part is that the quarterbacks were either completing long passes or passes that went for long yardage, as for the game the Army passers combined to complete seven passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. When the lowest of the three signal callers has a quarterback rating of 97.0, then something is going right.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A
This was a triple-option clinic if ever there was one. The Black Knights rumbled for 424 yards rushing on 72 attempts, with fullback Andy Davisson rushing for 106 yards and a score while Darnell Woolfork ran for three touchdowns of his own. This was the most points UTEP had allowed at home since 2003 as Army basically moved the ball on the ground any way they wanted. Army also completely controlled the clock, limiting UTEP to just 15 plays in the first half and holding the ball for an astonishing 42 minutes. If the two running backs can continue to give the Black knights this decisive one-two punch, then Army is going to continue to rack up massive numbers on the ground this fall.
PASSING DEFENSE: B
The Black Knights passing defense was excellent once again as both the offense and the defense did their part in creating the blowout victory. There were questions about the health of UTEP quarterback Zack Greenlee heading into the game and he looked far from comfortable in dealing with the pressure the Army defense was putting on him on passing downs. Greenlee passed for 106 yards and a touchdown on seven completions before he was pulled from the game and a couple of the Miners backup passers took the game to its (by that point) inevitable conclusion.
RUSHING DEFENSE: A
The Miners Aaron Jones entered the game as the nation's second-leading rusher and exited it having run for just 67 yards on 11 carries (with one score) against the Black Knights suddenly formidable run defense. Jones is a player that can turn any small crease into an explosive run and a touchdown, but the Black Knights defense shut down all those lanes and held UTEP to nothing at all on the ground in the first half while the offense ran in score after score. That combination completely took Jones out of the game as Army was so far ahead on the scoreboard.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Even the special team unit got in on the scoring action with Max Regan picking up a fumbled kickoff and returning it 13 yards for the score near the beginning of the second half. That score (and the conversion) made it a 38-0 Army lead and resulted in the clearing of both benches as reserves started to get playing time from that point onward. With zero kick returns and an entire game off for the punting unit there isn't much more to say about the special teams. The kicking game was perfect with Mitchell Howard and Blake Wilson a perfect 9 for 9 on their extra point attempts, along with a 27-yard field goal from Howard.
The coaching here was all in the set up as Jeff Monken made zero changes based on the gameplan and kept things rolling until he brought in the backups, who then continued to keep things rolling. With the death of cornerback Brandon Jackson still fresh in the minds of his players, Monken managed to focus the team on playing for Jackson as Army put together its most complete game in years.
OVERALL GRADE: A
Army is 3-0 for the first time since the 1996 season (when the Black Knights started 9-0) with some very winnable games left on the schedule. This rushing attack will scare any team Army plays the rest of the way, while the defense again proved it is every part the match for the score heavy offense in terms of skill and worth to the team. It could not be anything other than an A grade this week.