Army Game Review - TCU

Army lost a ballgame to a plainly superior team, but won something that could propel the Black Knights far beyond this season.

It's rare when a decisive 14-point loss carries with it a profound note of optimism, but this was one of those times. On some days, you tip your cap to the opposition and acknowledge their excellence; that's what Caleb Campbell and the rest of Bobby Ross' team did to Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs who, after extended rest and some stinging losses, figured to regain their good name against the Army. The fact that TCU--fast and furious on defense--was simply better is a reality that enables this loss to go down smoother than others. Whereas the Arkansas State loss was a shock and the Texas A&M loss a heartbreaker, this was a defeat free of nagging what-ifs.

But the real reason why this loss won't linger for Army--aside of the fact that winnable games now emerge on the schedule--is that the Black Knights might have found themselves a quarterback.

Carson Williams, subbing for a very (very, very) ineffective David Pevoto, calmly piloted Bobby and Kevin Ross' offense to two second-half touchdowns. He completed two-thirds of his passes in a relief role, coming cold off the bench and delivering production to a previously stagnant Army offense. The significance of this development can be appreciated in a number of ways.

First, Ross' willingness to pull the trigger shows how a quarterback switch can have a profound psychological impact on an offense and a team. On many occasions, a quarterback is not to blame for an offense's subpar performance, but a QB switch is merited anyway. Why? Because the offensive unit needs to be shaken into a sense of urgency. Playing for a new quarterback will often remind an offense that it needs to protect the man calling the plays and throwing the passes. Surges by an offense after a quarterback change are not always the result of better quarterbacking; they can simply be the result of the other ten players' newfound commitment to their individual assignments on each and every snap. The fact that Army played well after the quarterback switch is an indication that this team--with the right mindset--can definitely succeed. Ross gave his team a profound lesson about the need to have the mind right for all 60 minutes of a college football game. That's one benefit t he Black Knights can take with them into the home stretch of this season.

A second plus for Army in the wake of the Carson Williams show is that the Ross family braintrust can potentially mix and match quarterbacks in the team's remaining games. Bobby and Kevin shouldn't give up on David Pevoto, and Army fans shouldn't give up on the young man, either. Pevoto, one must remember, played admirably against a Texas A&M team that is 7-1 and ranked in the top 20. The junior signal caller has shown on the field that he can be a productive Division I-A quarterback. There might be debate about whether Pevoto should start against Tulane, but there should be no debate about Pevoto's value to the team. In a starting role or perhaps in a backup role, Pevoto can and should be called upon to produce for Army. One very intriguing strategic possibility is for Ross to--in the mold of Urban Meyer at Florida--mix and match Pevoto and Williams, much as Chris Leak and Tim Tebow (a senior and a freshman, somewhat similar to the junior-frosh combo here at West Point) are interchangeably used for the No. 6 team in college football. Rotating Pevoto and Williams can enable both players to get precious snaps but then stand on the sidelines to absorb additional football knowledge. Ross the father and Ross the son might not be willing to go down this road, but they should definitely consider the move and its potential benefits.

The third and biggest reason why Saturday's events will help Army Football lies in the simple fact that Williams is a freshman. The cornerstone of winning seasons in West Point--seven-or eight-win campaigns that will have the corps of Cadets in hysterics--is a big-time quarterback. If one special signal caller can take command of this program and reliably distribute the ball to a capable--though not overwhelming--assortment of skill position players, the Black Knights will make huge strides. Williams--who needs to see meaningful on-field reps as this season continues (though, as previously suggested, not to the exclusion of Pevoto by any means)--now has a chance to become the special field general Bobby and Kevin Ross have been looking for. Only time will tell, but for now, Army has a lot more long-term upside than before this loss (loss? what loss?) to TCU.

Some losses are, indeed, crushing. This loss? A lot of hope emerged from it. Army must now play Tulane (and the service academy rivals) like a team that is full of positive energy and forward-moving momentum.


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