Not a Passing Fancy

If you paid attention even a little bit to Saturday's game, you know that Army was able to defeat Eastern Michigan without the benefit of a single yard passing. To be able to sustain drives in the second half leading to a go-ahead TD as well as taking several minutes offf the clock is a tribute to the BK's new offense.

The ability of Collin Mooney to get extra yards on second and third effort, and the vast improvement in blocking by the offensive line, especially with 8-9 defenders constantly in the box.

You saw a defense play with results not seen around here for a long, long time. After the O was unable to pick up first downs on two possessions late in the game, Army's defense went into shut-down mode, preventing the long drives or big plays that the defense almost always gives up when the game is on the line. Army's LB's, given a shot in the arm by the emergence of Steve Anderson and continued strong play by the other linebackers and defensive backs, have been the strength of the team for two consecutive weeks, leading to two wins.

The question is, with the toughest part of the 2008 schedule about to begin, can the defense continue to perform at this level, and will the offense be able to diversify their attack , keeping the chains moving and the opponent's offense off the field?

Army fans would be wise to keep their excitement in check. After all, identical 3-3 records the first half of the last two seasons led to twin 6 game losing streaks to end both 2006 and 2007. The Cadets are unlikely to be favored in any game the rest of the way and will be big underdogs in most. What can change this trend?

The answer lies in the continued maturation of the skill position players on offense. Even with the improvement the last three games, the offense remains essentially a two-headed monster, fullback dives and QB keeps. Certainly, why deviate when things are working well? True, but even Saturday the offense was unable to pick up yardage several times on third down, leading to a field goal rather than a touchdown, and turning the ball over on downs on two occasions, keeping E. Michigan in the game until the end.

Chip Bowden has shown improvement every week. But it says here that it's time to open up the offense and see what they can do. Pitch plays have been few, even though they have resulted in good gains a vast majority of the time. It seems that counter plays and reverses can slow down pursuit on pitch plays, spreading the defense and keeping them on their toes. It's hard to believe that the teams Army will face the rest of the season will have the trouble Tulane and E. Michigan had in stopping the running attack. As for passing, work it in in it's own good time.

You can certainly say that a new offense needs to crawl before they can walk. Now it's time to see how far they can run.

Note from last week: This writer has been as critical as anyone over the usage of the new video board, the Michie Monolith. Loud inappropriate music and a constant intrusive volume plauged the first three games. But kudos to Kevin Anderson and his staff for listening to the complaints. Last week, the board concentrated on replays and featuring the goings-on in the stadium, including highlighting the bands as they played. The change is much appreciated.

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