Army Game Review - Tulane

Through the first seven games of Army's 2006 season, both the problems and the pleasing possibilities that lay ahead of the Black Knights seemed to exist on the offensive side of the ball. But now, the promise of this Autumnal sojourn--at least in terms of a possible bowl bid--has been wiped away by an abrupt defensive collapse.

Army's season, for all intents and purposes, is now a battle for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. Hopes of a Poinsettia Bowl--though not officially--have essentially ended for the Black Knights, thanks to a porous showing by the West Point defense. In the very same Louisiana Superdome where rain made its way through a permeable, wind-torn roof on the day Hurricane Katrina hit, the Army line proved to be just as leaky against a Green Wave attack that flowed and flowed and flowed down the football field. Army drowned in 585 yards of Tulane offense, as Green Wave quarterback Lester Ricard threw for 409 yards while completing just over 73 percent of his passes.

The haunting part of this loss for Army is the fact that Bobby Ross' defense gave way against the Green Wave only after the Black Knights had cut Tulane's lead to four (17-13) early in the second half. For just over 30 minutes, Army had done a somewhat credible job of containing Ricard and the Tulane attack, with the hope of getting better and stronger as the second half continued. But just when the screws tightened on the scoreboard, the floodgates suddenly opened for the Green Wave against an Army defense that became paralyzed.

Here are the stats of the game, folks: in the third quarter, Tulane's offense gained at least five yards on 20 of its 23 snaps, and at least seven yards on 18 of those same 23 snaps. Need anything more be said? The Green Wave swamped the Army defense on virtually every third-quarter snap; no offense, and no efforts from freshman quarterback Carson Williams, could overcome that kind of defenselessness.

The same Army defense that carried this team through most of the season by keeping the Black Knights competitive against Arkansas State, Kent State, A&M, Baylor and Connecticut (and triumphant in a demolition of VMI) suddenly left the building precisely when the Green Wave floodwaters had to be kept at bay. While an offense's up-and-down fortunes--punctuated by a quarterback switch--have largely dominated discussions of Army football in 2006, it's a defense that, against TCU and now versus Tulane, has allowed the floodwaters to rush in precisely when this Army unit was about to find dry land.

This Tulane loss is an unfortunate development for a team that was thinking bowl game at an earlier point in the season, but Army has to put this moment in the rearview mirror. Commander-in-Chief season is up next. The leaks in the levee have to be patched up, and fast.


Tulane's Frank Morton (99) tries to tackle Army fullback Mike Viti (33) in the first half of a college football game in New Orleans on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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