10 Things I Learned...Army

Rutgers (6-4, 2-3 Big East) ended its second two-game losing streak of the season by dominating Army (3-7) 41-6 on Nov. 9. The Scarlet Knights are now bowl eligible for the third straight year and finish their season with back-to-back Big East games. West Point is an arduous academic endeavor, so I give you 10 Things I Learned Last Week.

1. Ray Rice is good.
I've been writing this all year for a reason. Rice set a school rushing record with 243 yards on 24 carries (84 yards in the first quarter alone) versus Army. He also reached the end zone twice to run his Big East-leading total to 16 rushing TDs. Rice has gained a tidy 1,500 yards and averages 150 yards per game this year. He is on pace to break the Rutgers record for most rushing yards in a season (1,794) that he set last year.

2. Special teams looked improved.
Special teams are still a relative mess this year. Rutgers had to punt after a false start negated a 45-yard field goal attempt that would have been good, and RU later missed a 35-yard attempt that should have been made. The Scarlet Knights coughed the ball up for the fourth time this season on a punt return when Dennis Campbell fumbled a punt for the second time this year. However, special teams kept dangerous Army punt and kick return men in check, and they gave the Scarlet Knights two touchdowns. Rutgers took a 14-6 lead on a blocked punt late in the first quarter, and a recovered fumble early in the second quarter led to a back-breaking TD.

3. ESPN weeknight games are near insufferable.
For the past few years I have been calling ESPN games "sports talk radio with a video feed." Friday was no different, as the announcers rarely paid attention to the action on the field, missing injuries, penalties and touchdowns. The network used the broadcast as an attempt to promote the "biggest" games of the weekend, but Auburn-Georgia on CBS was conspicuously absent (I wonder why). The announcers interviewed everyone from ABC announcer Brent Musberger to the guy who sucks farts out of seats on the Ohio State bus.

4. RU's defense got healthy against Army.
For the second time this year, Rutgers' defensive unit held an offense off the board (the first time was in a 59-0 victory against Norfolk State). True enough, it was against one of the worst offenses in the country, but RU's first-team defense held the Black Knights to just 94 yards of total offense (Army had a 58-yard drive stopped by a turnover late in the game against Rutgers backups). RU's defense forced four fumbles and recovered three, and the Scarlet Knights limited Army to just 29 percent passing while intercepting one attempt.

5. Mike Teel's injury may be worse than we think.
This is probably one of those situations where we don't know the severity of Mike Teel's thumb injury until the offseason. I don't know the extent of his injury. I do know this: the out pattern he tried to throw to receiver Tim Brown early in the first quarter had no zip on it, and it was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He has the arm strength to get it out there. Weather may have been a factor, but his thumb probably played a part in floating the pass. He played sparingly in the first half against Army and only threw the ball four times.

6. Jabu Lovelace's arm isn't broken.
Speculation on the redshirt sophomore has been that he has tremendous arm strength, but his accuracy and ability to read defenses are suspect. We got to see the cannon he calls an arm, especially when he unleashed a 40-yard bomb to Tim Brown that was right on the money for an apparent touchdown. Unfortunately, Brown stepped out of bounds before catching the ball despite the fact that there was no defender within 15 yards of him. It's the second week in a row Brown cost the Scarlet Knights a TD with a penalty. Accuracy remains an issue with Lovelace (2-for-8, 28 yards passing), so we'll see how much he's allowed to air it out the next couple of weeks. He piled up 81 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

7. Army's offense is broken.
The Black Knights cannot move the ball, have managed just 333 total yards in the last two weeks and have scored just two offensive touchdowns in the last three games (one of those was a three-yard drive). They ran just 44 offensive plays and had a 25-6 first down deficit on Friday. Rutgers held the ball an astounding 41:56, and Army's defense has been on the field a total of 111:35 out of 180 minutes in three straight losses. As a result, the Black Knights have been outscored 105-26.

8. Ron Girault is indispensable on defense.
The true senior co-captain safety was out with an ankle injury for the better part of four games, and his absence was felt in the secondary. He was not at full strength during the Connecticut game the week before but appeared healthier against Army (though it looked like he tweaked his ankle at one point). Girault forced two fumbles and led Rutgers with five tackles against Army.

9. Rushing was the order of the day for RU.
Rutgers is a run-first team, and it showed as the Scarlet Knights exploited one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation Friday night. It looked like college football throwback night as 72 of Rutgers' 84 offensive plays were runs (85.7 percent) split between three players (Rice, Lovelace and true freshman Mason Robinson). The Scarlet Knights piled up 404 yards on the ground compared to just 42 passing. RU averages 201.8 yards rushing this year and may be in reach to eclipse the all-time team mark of 2,895 yards running set by the 1975 club that went 9-2.

10. The game was over when . . .
Lovelace plunged into the end zone 2:10 into the second quarter. The Scarlet Knights converted a muffed Army punt into a six-yard drive that gave RU a 21-6 advantage. That deflated an Army team that has been unable to move the ball this year and gave Rutgers fans a rare chance to relax.

Scarlet Report Top Stories