Army's level of effort against Notre Dame was off-the-charts awesome. Of course, the Black Knights were outmanned and outgunned against the Irish, who have a formidable assortment of players befitting a top-ten team. Therefore, an Army fan--in the wake of this loss in Indiana-- can't look to the scoreboard for inspiration, discrimination, frustration, or any of the other "-ations" that emerge from a football game. The box score will never show it, but the effort put forth by these West Pointers was outstanding; the turbocharged first quarter looked an awful lot like the Texas A&M game and the Baylor breakthrough. From this passionate effort in the shadows of the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus, the Army boys can learn something that can pay big dividends against the Naval Academy and throughout the 2007 season.
Observers of this team will note that against Air Force, Army lost focus for short but crucial periods of time in the second quarter of a game that slipped away. At other points in this nearly-completed season, the Black Knights--against Arkansas State and Connecticut in particular--didn't treat every snap or possession with the same level of urgency, and it cost the West Pointers dearly. Therein lies one of the keys to a breakthrough season for this program.
The effort against Notre Dame--particularly in the first half and especially in the first quarter--was good enough to beat teams such as Arkansas State, UConn and Air Force. In fact, those Falcons from Colorado Springs were dusted off by Notre Dame just a week earlier in Rocky Mountain country. Army was more competitive against Charlie Weis' team than Air Force ever was; that fact indicates that Army is evenly matched with Fisher DeBerry's crew from the Mountain West Conference. But on the football field, when the moment of reckoning came a' callin', the Black Knights couldn't keep up.
The point doesn't need an excess of words, images or explanations: losing to Notre Dame is not a problem at all; this loss to the Fighting Irish wasn't a disappointment in itself, but a disappointment because Army's effort on Saturday would have beaten a number of other teams on the Black Knights' 2006 schedule.
Bobby Ross' team can't get those games back, it's true; however, the Black Knights can now spend two weeks preparing to get it right against Navy. And then, this same group of West Point footballers can get it right throughout the 2007 season.