Let's Zip Past TCU: On To Akron

Normally, a gallant performance such as the one offered by the Brave Old Army Team Saturday night in Forth Worth against Texas Christian University would be cause for celebration. But this time, the lesson needs to sink in around West Point: one good losing performance against a superior opponent needs to be followed up the next week by an equally good effort against a weaker opponent. Saturday night's effort against TCU, if reduplicated against Akron this upcoming Saturday, will finally produce

Saturday night's effort against TCU, if reduplicated against Akron this upcoming Saturday, will finally produce a win.

Can you piece together this trend? Army gets told how good it is after an inspiring performance against Iowa State, only to then relax and get blasted by Connecticut the following week. The Black Knights have always been at their best this year (and obviously, that's a relative term when you're talking about an oh-and-six ballclub, but the point still holds within this particular context) after games in which they did NOT compete. The key for Bobby Ross—who coached a great game against the Horned Frogs after a poor sideline display against Central Michigan the previous week—is for his team to be able to follow up one encouraging effort with another. This team has played some formidable foes in 2005, but it has also taken the field against eminently beatable teams as well, and the secret to Army's success lies in that simple trait known as consistency. Had Iowa State-level coaching existed against Central Michigan, Army would have defeated the Chippewas. Had the Black Knights battled against Baylor the way they fought the same TCU team that beat Oklahoma earlier this season, it could very well be that Boss Ross would have bagged the Bears in week two of Army's season.

It's all about consistency, and not being satisfied with an encouraging performance that takes place within the larger context of a loss. Yes, when you're winless, you have to place a certain realistic and balanced emphasis on the positive along with the negative. Painting the Iowa State game as a great game is part of that balancing act. But it's becoming apparent—and this is the perfect point in the season in which to say as much—that the real key around West Point is for this team, while not getting down on itself by any means, to view losses as unacceptable. If that attitude can truly and totally sink in among the Black Knights' roster, they'll run over Akron this upcoming Saturday, zapping the zips and removing that nasty little "zip" total under their own win column.

The TCU game represented a solid and encouraging performance against an opponent that was—and figured to be—better. That's fine. But the emphasis must not rest on Saturday night's events in Northern Texas. It must be carried over to Ohio this next weekend, because hope-inducing performances such as the one against TCU don't really mean anything unless they lead to wins against more beatable opponents.

Time for consistency. Time to get a win for the Long Gray Line.

Army quarterback Zac Dahman (7) looks for a receiver against Texas Christian University Saturday Oct. 15, 2005 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU defeated Army 38-17. (AP Photo/Amy Conn-Gutierrez)

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