Make no mistake, the defense sets the tone for this team. And not because they slam the door on the other team. After all, Temple collected 25 first downs and netted 463 yards, moving the totals for the last 2 weeks to 59 first downs and an amazing 1036 yards. Adam DiMichele displayed a strong arm and a nice touch, although frequently getting little help from his receiving. No, this defense sets the tone by having good physical presence on the field, something that hasn't been seen around these parts in some time. Led by Caleb Campbell's huge hits, the defense is able to shut down drives and create turnovers. The tackling continues to be sure and crisp. It's especially impressive in view of the number of times the opposition gets the ball on a short field due to Army mistakes.
The offense continues to be a mystery. It's way past time to open this thing up. It's to the point where Carson Williams should just take a knee on first down and go right to the next second and long play. Currently, first down is just a give up play, yielding nothing on running plays. When pass plays are called, the ensuing 2nd and long play becomes the give up down, mostly with running plays that also gain little or nothing. This sets up poor percentage 3rd down pass plays, which this team cannot execute on a consistent basis.
Bottom line, this team cannot sustain drives (witness 2 turnovers in the red zone), and has no big strike capability. Hard to view this as a winning formula. Against teams not as generous with turnovers as Temple, Army will remain in bad shape generating points.
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Obviously, special teams were huge in this game. Besides the 2 touchdowns on returns, Owen Tolson once again had a huge day punting. He made 2 tackles to save poor coverage situations and fielded a bad snap, turning it into a first down that broke the Owls' back.
So, not a pretty win, but Army certainly can't be choosy. Tulane is next. Last year, the Green Wave exposed Army's secondary and came away with an easy win. A win here would make a nice statement that corners may finally be getting turned.
Game note: The administration at USMA has been working harder than usual in trying to attract the casual fan and maybe making them permanent ones. Unfortunately, the biggest home crowd in 2 years was treated to huge traffic delays fueled by an inept planning system. The stadium only had 12,000-15,000 people at kickoff due to this mess. Talked to several folks after the game who were irate. Not a good way to rebuild a shrinking fan base.