Army vs. Akron: The Perfect Game

There's no such thing as perfection... not even for the University of Southern California. There are always flaws in each and every football team, small things that could always be better. In college football (and every other sport, for that matter), perfection is always relative.

On a significant Saturday night in the Midwest, when the rubber met the road in the Rubber Bowl, Army zipped the Akron zips by playing an essentially perfect football game.

Was it a dominating effort? Not if you look at the stats.

Was the offense overwhelmingly good for the Black Knights of the Hudson? Hardly. The Cadets didn't even rack up 300 total yards, and Zac Dahman didn't light up the Ohio night.

It has been said, "Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good." Well, for Army football, one shouldn't make the technically perfect the enemy of the essentially perfect, and on Saturday, Army played what was, for all intents and purposes, the kind of game the Black Knights must play in order to win. Therefore, it was perfect, all things considered.

Against Akron, Army had a team leader—Caleb Campbell—set the tone with a second-quarter interception. Leaders need to lead by example, and Campbell did just that to jump- start Army in its victory.

That pick by Campbell was also significant because the Black Knights will need to force at least one key game-changing turnover in each contest they play. They're just not talented or dominant enough to expect to win when they break even or lose in the turnover battle. Campbell's interception provided a spark for the Cadets, but it also gave them tactical advantages relating to field position and, shortly thereafter (when Army scored to go up 7-0), the scoreboard, which eventually winds up affecting the opponent's game plan in the fourth quarter. Army's defense was able to throw a bagel at Arkon because the Zips had to press as the game continued, thereby limiting their overall options.

Another ingredient of Saturday night's game that must appear in each Army win is a timely placed kick. Justin Koenig's 48-yard boot was precisely the kind of kick the Black Knights couldn't get at key moments in previous games from this 2005 season. By nailing a long kick, Koenig gave his team runaway momentum heading into the locker room, but also a two-possession lead at 10-0. The value of that one play in Saturday night's game cannot be overstated.

One more ingredient of this game that needs to appear in each Army win is the mere presence of timely plays. Dahman threw for only 109 yards, and the Cadets did not outgain the Zips by a decisive margin. Yet, they won by 20 points, as convincing as a victory gets. This should prove to each and every Army player that key plays made at the right time can translate into a big win even when raw physical superiority or statistical dominance are absent from the equation.

No one will confuse Bobby Ross' crew with the Trojans in LA or the Longhorns in Austin, but Army genuinely came up with a perfect game in Ohio on Saturday. The first win of 2005 points the way toward future conquests for the Black Knights of the Hudson. With leaders leading, turnovers taken, kicks made, and timely plays pulled off, the Cadets will march to victory again and again. It's all a matter of sustaining this most successful... and perfect... of formulas.


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