Report Card: Army vs. Eastern Michigan

Army avoided being upset by Eastern Michigan when it rallied late on a Jared Hassin touchdown with thirty eight seconds left to pull out the victory 31-27. It was the second consecutive season opening win over the Eastern Michigan for the Black Knights. Eastern Michigan is still seeking its first victory under second year head coach Ron English.



Eastern Michigan

Trent Steelman completed 5 of 11 passes for 65 yards. Trent's passing mechanics were inconsistent at times. He misfired three times to a wide open George Jordan. The offensive line struggled at times with pass protection. Steelman was sacked once and hurried into incompletions twice. Sophomore wide receiver George Jordan,who we discussed during summer camp practice notes, was impressive in his first career start catching three passes for 34 yards. Jordan consistently beat EMU's cornerbacks all night. Jordan's 16 yard reception started the game winning drive. Pat Mealy had the key catch of the game, a 19 yard reception on third and 18 to keep a touchdown drive alive. Austin Barr had the other catch, a 12 yard completion. Davyd Brooks was a surprising non factor with no catches.
Army amassed 309 yards rushing averaging 5.6 yards a carry. All five players who carried the ball had 57 or more yards rushing. Trent Steelman did a nice job reading his pitch keys while running for 57 yards but his three wayward pitches to the motion backs are the only thing that kept this grade from being an A+. One resulted in a turnover and the other killed a drive. Jared Hassin scored three touchdowns and demonstrated the quickness and leg drive we saw in practice. Pat Mealy had 12 carries for 81yards and one touchdown. He looked a lot faster after his offseason speed training. Perimeter blocking was much better than last year with Malcolm Brown (74 yards) and Brian Cobbs (60 yards) using their speed to make plays. The offensive line did an excellent job run blocking.
The Black Knights recorded one sack and had pressure to force five hurries on quarterback Alex Gillette in the few times he attempted to pass. Gillette completed 4 of 9 throws for 31 yards one touchdown. The touchdown reception to Ben Thayer was a blown coverage but understandable since Army had three linebackers (Combs, Erzinger and Westphal) knocked out of the game by then. Marcus Hilton produced three quarterback hurries. The defensive front did a poor job containing Gillette who broke pressure for a number of running big gains. EMU did a good job double teaming against Josh McNary who dominated them last year. Josh had the key pressure on the last pass of the game causing a wayward throw that fell incomplete. Richard King did a nice job in coverage. That 15 yard pass interference call on EMU's last drive was typical MAC officials home cooking. King had excellent coverage. Josh Jackson played well in place of Antuan Aaron. Army's free safety Donovan Travis intercepted a seam pass and returned it thirty yards. That set up an Army touchdown.
A disaster reminiscence of the Todd Berry era, not what we saw last year from the nation's 16th ranked defense. Only a forced punt late in game and Jarrett Mackey's forced fumbled that set up Army's first touchdown kept this grade from being an F. Army never adjusted to the Eagles new offense that featured jet motion hand offs and misdirection. To make matters worse the linebackers, already missing star whip linebacker Andrew Rodriguez, had three players Nate Combs, Steve Erzinger and backup Sean Westphal leave with injuries. The Eagles ran right at the Black Knights flex defense which had no answers all night. The Black Knights really seemed to miss graduated Victor Ugenyi's size at tackle. Poor angles and shoddy tackling were a problem for the defense most of the game as they allowed the Eagles 285 rushing yards.
Kicker Alex Carlton hit 1 of 2 field goals from over 40 yards. Jonathan Bulls did a nice job on his first punt pinning EMU inside their own 5. That set up Army's first touchdown. His next punt late in game was a 60 yarder that was nullified by illegal formation. Bulls shanked the punt after the penalty as it traveled only 26 yards. Once again Army was called for illegal formation and it set EMU up for their last touchdown. Matt Campbell kickoffs traveled less than a 55 yard average setting up the Eagles with a short field time and again. The pooch kickoff just before end of half set up EMU for an easy score. Coverage teams had poor night tackling. Bill Prosko fumble recovery on a kickoff set up an Army field goal. That key play is the reason the special teams didn't earn a D.
Offensive coordinator Ian Shields attacked EMU and its inability to stop the run. The defensive Coordinator Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland were hurt by four injuries at linebacker that left recently converted freshman wide receiver Justin Trimble playing last two defensive series at rover. The Black Knight defense never adjusted to jet motion series. The back to back illegal formation penalties late in fourth quarter nearly cost game. Nice job of play calling by Shields on last drive for game winning touchdown.
A win is a win. It wasn't pretty as Army held on for the win. The offense looked improved at skill positions with even returning starters Steelman and Mealy looking faster and stronger. Nice job on last drive and last defensive series to secure win. Defense which was expected to be strength was a real concern as they were dominated at point of attack. That didn't happen last year.

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