Key Matchups: Army vs. VMI

The tenth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 143, 3-6) Big South Conference Virginia Military Institute Keydets (Sagarin 224, 2-7). The Black Knights lead the all time series 12-1, with the last one being a very lopsided 62-7 affair, when Bobby Ross unloaded the bench, but a broken and tired VMI squad could not tackle the plebes.

Last Week

This was one of the most interesting games that I have witnessed as a Black Knight fan.  Army played their best half in nearly 5 years.  They dominated on defense, the offense actually moved the ball and they looked as though they had arrived.  The score was tied 7-7 at the half, because they allowed an Anthony Wright 88 yard punt return in the first quarter.

 

In the second half, it seemed as though there were two entirely different teams on the field.  Air Force as able to move the ball on the ground and through the air and they completely shut down Army's offense.  They scored 28 unanswered points on 4 of 5 possessions and cruised to an easy victory.

 

In the end, the statistics looked like they should.  Air Force gained 291 yards in total offense, while Tim Jefferson was 4-7 for 131 yards including a 77 yard touchdown pass to Kevin Fogler. 

 

In Lynchburg, VA, VMI committed 8 turnovers and were pummeled by Liberty College 54-14.  The other statistics in this game really do not mean anything.  Liberty scored on a kickoff return, an interception return, a fumble return and then scored several more times on short fields that resulted from turn-overs.

 

 

What we Learned

I have wondered what happens in the Army locker room at half time -  why do the cadets always seemed to get pushed around in the third quarter?  In watching the disaster that took place in Colorado Springs, I think that we have to face the reality that we may be getting out coached.  So badly do the academy brass, the alumni, and the national media want to anoint Rich Ellerson as the next Jim Young, but I think that Ellerson and his coaching staff are getting badly beaten by superior coaching staffs on in-game and half-time adjustments.  That never happened to Jim Young's teams. Let's not forget that Ellerson himself gave away the game they lost at Temple with his ridiculous decision to go on 4th and 1 from his own 25, in the fourth quarter, with the score tied. They also badly mismanaged the clock at the end of the Tulane game, leaving themselves no choice but to settle for a 42 yard FG attempt which was missed. Ellerson's in-game decision making has been awful.

 

In numerous interviews Coach Ellerson has commented that they want Trent Steelman to get the option down first before they start passing the ball more regularly. But when the score is 28-7 and they're still running fullback dives into the line, as color commentator Jason Sehorn said during last week's broadcast, that's just not going to get it done.

 

For a half, Trent Steelman looked like the quarterback we know he will be in the future.  With a week off to rest his ribs, he looked fantastic.  He rushed for 102 yards including a 42 yard touchdown run.  He looked ok throwing the ball, but the receivers can't get open or catch passes.

 

Down South we learned that VMI is a pretty bad team.  Their wins have come against Presbyterian and Robert Morris.  They have been in most of their games this year, but tend to lose by a couple touchdowns.

 

Who is favored?

                  

VMI is a FCS (IAA) team and there is no published point spread.  If there were, Army would be a 28 point favorite.

 

What to look for?

 

This will pretty much be a scrimmage for Army.  They will be bigger and faster than the Keydets and in no way will this represent any real contest.  I expect to see nearly every Army option to work and they will look like world beaters.  I don't expect more than 2 punts from Army and I expect 500 yards in total offense. A loss to VMI is unthinkable, and most likely impossible; VMI lost to Stony Brook, for goodness sake!!!

 

But for all the Army fans and alumni who may be unable to resist the urge to overreact if Army rolls up a big blowout win on Saturday, please take it easy – a victory over VMI will prove absolutely nothing. VMI is, by almost any measure, one of the worst football teams in the nation, playing in what was once known as Division 1-AA. This is the softest opponent Army has faced since, well, the last time they played VMI.  This game will not in any way be any kind of measuring stick as to Army's chances of beating North Texas and Navy, and becoming bowl eligible. However, if Army ever did find a way to lose this game, it would be the biggest disaster to hit the football program since the 1951 cheating scandal.

 

Army needs this to heal, gain some confidence, give some younger players valuable experience, and to prepare for a very important game against North Texas.

 

Final Score – Army 49 – VMI 7 (predictions this year 2-7)

 

The game will be presented on Knight Vision @ 12:00 PM EST.

 


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