The Army Black Knights (5-4) fell in their first Commander-In-Chief's Trophy contest of the season against Air Force on Saturday. The Black Knights must now rebound to achieve bowl eligibility and have a chance of beating Navy later in the year.
PASSING OFFENSE: D
This was another game where Army found out that they couldn't run the ball and that passing was not going to help take the offense forward. Ahmad Bradshaw can be a devastating runner, but his lack of a passing threat when the run breaks down continues to make the Black knights the most one-dimensional of all the schools currently running option schemes. Bradshaw was 5 for 15 passing the ball for 84 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. His pass that was intercepted by safety Weston Steelhammer after the Black Knights had gained outstanding field position from a turnover of their own was a momentum killer.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D
Entering the game ranked second in the nation and rushing for 342 yards a game, the Black Knights knew that getting close to that total would be vital against Air Force. The Falcons though limited Army to just 144 yards on 40 carries, their second such dominant defensive performance against an academy team after holding Navy to 57 yards on the ground earlier this season. Andy Davidson was the Black knights leading rusher with just 45 yards on 10 carries, while the normally reliable Bradshaw was stopped in his tracks and could only gain 41 yards on the day,
PASSING DEFENSE: D
The Black Knights were facing Air Force quarterback Arion Worthman who only found out on Friday that he would be making his first start for the Falcons. In such a critical game, and on the road no less, Army allowed Worthman to pass for 195 yards and a score in relief of the injured Nate Romine. Worthman got into his groove early and completed 67% of his nine passes with senior wide receiver Jalen Robinette catching three balls for 104 yards on the day. Army was unable to get pressure on Worthman as he passed, with no sacks recorded.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C
The rushing defense was marginally better than the pass defense, but of we are being honest the Black Knights got dominated in every phase of the game on Saturday. Air Force fullback Jacobi Owens was the main name running the ball for the Falcons as he carried 12 times for 106 yards with a game-high rush of 59 yards. Worthman added to his impressive passing totals with 63 yards on the ground as the Falcons combined to rush the ball 52 times for 249 yards and a touchdown. Linebackers Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King has 23 tackles between them in a losing defensive effort.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
The special teams play was pretty abject again from the Black Knights. Army averaged just 10 yards per kick return, did not have a single punt return, and the lone kick at goal (a PAT) was blocked. J.D. Mote averaged 37.2 yards per punt with a long of 47 yards, but his kicks were all unreturnable as Air Force returns had to fair catch the ball when it was in play.
When your team is beaten in every phase of the game when at home and with a trophy on the line a fair portion of the blame must fall on the head coach. Jeff Monken had seen the Air Force defense shut down the Navy option earlier in the year, so he must have known coming into this one that there was at least a chance that the Falcons would be able to nullify the Army option game as well. Monken though seemed to have nothing in mind as a plan B and, more worryingly, was unable to figure out how to defend a new quarterback until the game was out of reach,
OVERALL GRADE: D
This was just a bad game from Army. The Black Knights lost the battle in every statistical category that matters and was outgained 444 yards to 228 yards on the day. Air Force had 20 first downs to 15 for the Black Knights and Army also lost the turnover battle two to one. With all that taken into account, it is no surprise that the team lost by almost 20 points at home.