With all this in mind, the Army football family would do well to consider this overlooked part of the sport of football, a facet of the game where intensity and focus, if combined, can really pay dividends for underdog teams.
There's an obvious need to succeed in the red zone, and to also generate three-and-outs on defense (or avoid them on offense). Any casual football fan knows that much.
But a part of the game where points can be stolen (or squandered) comes not at the ends of the field, but in the middle. More specifically, we're talking about the area between the 50-yard line and the opponent's 35-yard line.
Consider this: if you start a drive between the 50 and your opponent's 35, you're at a place on the field where one 15-yard gain definitely gets you into field goal range, and perhaps just six or seven yards (if starting a possession between the 40 and the 35) can do the deed. Basically, attaining one first down will often put a team within field goal range if it starts between the 50 and the opponent's 35. The ramifications for Army football are significant in light of this reality.
If you're able to see the Cadets in game-simulation-based practices or outright scrimmages as they run up to the Louisville opener (which is still a couple of weeks away), notice how the offense fares in that 15-yard zone between the 50 and the defense's 35. It is that area in which Boss Ross' dual emphasis on toughness and execution can really come into play for the Cadets this season.
Think about it: the Black Knights of the Hudson will sink or swim on the banks of the famed river not because they'll blow away their opponents--they won't. It will be by stealing points here and denying points there. Getting a three-and-out from the defense is always nice, but getting it when a team starts in the 50-to-35 zone will be incredibly important. Just the same, getting a first down is always good on offense, but getting that first down after a drive start at the opponent's 45-yard line will set up a chance to snag three possibly crucial points. If Army can maximize points on offense and minimize points allowed on defense relative to this part of the football field, the Black Knights could pull off some close wins in 2004.
Bobby Ross wants both the toughness and the precision, as any football coach would. If he wants to explain how that can make a difference for his players and the Army football program, he should mention how 15 yards in the middle third of the field can prove decisive in a contest.
54-40 or fight? That's so 19th-century, isn't it?
Bobby Ross' slogan for merging intensity and execution should be "50-35 or fight!"