Army certainly struggled mightily against the highest-powered passing offense they have faced so far this year in Rice. By playing the nickel package the entire 1st half, Army generated no pressure on the passer with a 3 man rush. This exposed the coverage guys as unable to cover the Owls' athletic receiver corps and the points piled up. The BK's changed up in the 2nd half and went to a frequent 4 man rush and threw in a few blitzes for good measure. The change was remarkable and gave Army the chance to pull one out. The same situation presents itself this week, as Rutgers is blowing out lights on the scoreboard left and right. The D must pressure the QB or it will be a very long day.
Offensively, the struggle is on concerning the play of Chip Bowden. After establishing himself as a threat against Texas A@M with his running ability and playing well against Tulane, recent weeks have seen him become tentative when he keeps the ball. He's been dancing at the line of scrimmage and not putting his head down for extra yardage. This became big at the end of the 1st half against Rice, as he was stopped at the 1 yd. line and then fell down on the next play. Army had to settle for a last play FG, which became large at the end of the game. In addition, his footwork has been a problem.. He has tripped many times leaving center, and as been slow running to the corner, making it tough to pitch. He has also frequently slipped and fell on cuts. Hopefully, the success the Knights had in the second half pitching the ball is a harbinger of good things to come. That is, if the coaching staff doesn't go vanilla and lets the offense continue to open up.
Through all these recent dismal seasons, one strength of the Army team as been on kick returns. This year is a differnt story. Punt returns have become non-existent, with the return guys seemingly afraid to catch the ball. Opponents have punted the Cadets into bad starting positions making the offense go a long way, which is hard for them because of their propensity to fumble. Kickoff returns are also below par, yet many opponents use pop-up kicks which come down at the 35-40 yard line. It's a real head-scratcher, as it gives Army field position they can't generate on their own. Thanks, fellas.
On another front, great start by men's basketball with a solid win on Saturday. Not so great is the home crowd, which continues to consist of friends and family with a few cadets thrown in. Sure would be nice if this is the year the team is able to generate some excitement with the Corps and the local community.
There's been a trend lately of Army teams coming up small in conference tournaments after having a good regular season. Hockey, lax, and women's basketball and volleyball come to mind last year. Hopefully, a new day is upon us as women's soccer won the league title and went to their first NCAA's. Volleyball gets their chance this weekend. After defeating American on Saturday, they have a real shot this year.
And maybe football can steal a game or two to finish the season.
Army Bye Week Musings
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