The Army Black Knights (4-2) got back on track on Saturday with a monstrous 62-7 win over the Lafayette Leopards (1-6) in West Point. It was the sort of display fans want to see from Army, with a dominant running game, an effective passing game, and an opportunistic defense combining to give the Leopards no chance at all of springing an upset. Here is a look at the report card to see how the Black Knights units performed.
PASSING OFFENSE: B
A much better day through the air for the Black Knights in conditions that actually allowed Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Carter to throw the football with some efficiency. The Army rushing game was so dominant that the Lafayette defenders were all up on the line of scrimmage, giving a perfect example of how Army needs to use the run to set up the pass. The passing game was also responsible for the best play of the game when Carter hit Jordan Asberry for a 59-yard touchdown to put the Black Knights ahead 35-7.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A
It was just an utterly dominant game on the ground for the No. 2 rushing team in the nation as the Leopards defense had no idea how to stop the option attack. Army rushed for 537 yards and 31 first downs in a game that was effectively over at the end of the first quarter. Bradshaw rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown, while Carter saw extensive time at the quarterback position and rushed for two scores of his own. Head coach jeff Monken knew that Army needed a big bounce back game with the rushing offense after Buffalo and Duke, and the team came out with a mindset that they would not let Lafayette stop them.
PASSING DEFENSE: B-
Lafayette was forced to throw early and often as Army piled up the points and did an incredibly effective job of shutting down the Leopards running game. Drew Reed was back at the quarterback spot and he went 21-of-36 for 205 yards, with no touchdowns and a couple of interceptions. One of the biggest plays of the entire game was the interception Reed threw to Marcus Hyatt in the Army end zone when the Leopards had a chance to get the score down to 35-14 just before the halftime break.
RUSHING DEFENSE: A
The rushing defense was on another level on Saturday. Lafayette managed to rush for a total of 10 yards on 17 carries, with a long run for the game of just five yards. Monken will be disappointed that quarterback Reed was able to sneak over on the ground for a touchdown, but the fact that Army held the Leopards to less than one yard per carry is just outstanding work by the guys in the trenches and the linebackers filling gaps. Forcing Lafayette to punt on each of its first five possessions was all Army needed to do to secure the victory.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F
They say that you should never let one play define a grade, but they obviously said that before Amy committed one of the worst special teams plays in the history of time against Lafayette. Punter Nick Schrage saw the field exactly once on Saturday to punt late in the first half with the Black Knights up 35-7 and with the team facing a 4th & 44 situation. What happened next is almost too ridiculous to type out, as Schrage seemingly attempted to run for the first down (IT'S 4th & 44 REMEMBER) but was hit before even reaching the line to gain and promptly fumbled the ball. Only a cover tackle at the Army 10 stopped the Leopards scoring on the play. Insanity.
The score here is a B, but it could be higher or lower based on the punting decision noted above. If the call was for a fake punt in this situation (which is what it looked like) then the coaching score would be an F. If there was a fake punt option but somehow Schrage wasn't told that if it is 4th & 44 all options are waved off, then the score is a C. If the punt was entirely the decision of Schrage, then based on the rest of the game and the handling of the quarterbacks situation and the dedication to running the ball down the throat of Lafayette, then the score is an A.
OVERALL GRADE: A
It was as solid an all-around performance as you will see from an FBS school against an FCS foe. Army was never likely to fall into this trap on the back of two losses and with the defeat against Fordham last year still fresh on the mind of the players and the coaches. Even so, a football game still had to be won, and Army made quick work of Lafayette, getting the starters out and moving ahead to bigger and better things with a 4-2 record at the midpoint of the season.