CFN Take: Army, Dixon Get By Fordham
Army Black Knights 2014 ...
Head Coach: Jeff Monken
Nov. 22 at Army 42, Fordham 31
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 OPEN DATE
Sep. 6 Buffalo W 47-39
Sep. 13 at Stanford L 35-0
Sep. 20 at Wake Forest L 24-21
Sep. 27 at Yale L 49-43 OT
Oct. 4 Ball State W 33-24
Oct. 11 Rice L 41-21
Oct. 18 at Kent State W 39-17
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 Air Force L 23-6
Nov. 8 Connecticut W 35-21
Nov. 15 at WKU L 52-24
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 29 Fordham
Dec. 16 OPEN DATE
Dec. 13 Navy (in Balt)
And You Care Because … Helped by three Larry Dixon touchdown runs from five, one and 39 yards out, Army rolled up 382 rushing yards and took over the game after getting down 10-0 in the first half. The Black Knights came up with a blocked punt for a score and got short touchdown runs from Terry Baggett and Raymond Maples as they stayed ahead with ease. Mike Nebrich threw three touchdown passes for the Rams, but they couldn’t get close than 11 late before Maples’ score put it away.
What Else? Army RB Larry Dixon ran 22 times for 158 yards and three scores
- Fordham QB Mike Nebrich completed 27-of-38 passes for 352 yards and three scores and an interception
- Time of possession: Army 35:09 – Fordham 24:51
- Fourth down conversions: Army 4-of-4 – Fordham 3-of-3
Game Rating: C+
Nov. 15 at Western Kentucky 52, Army 24
And You Care Because … WKU’s offense was unstoppable as Brandon Doughty ran for a 15-yard touchdown and threw three touchdown passes – finding Willie McNeal for a 45-yard score with no time remaining in the first half, and a six-yarder to Jared Dangerfield in the third, but it was Leon Allen’s game, adding scoring runs from 12 and 80 yards out for the Hilltoppers to stay ahead. Army scored first on a one-yard Angel Santiago touchdown run, and Larry Dixon added a 58-yard scoring dash, but WKU was comfortably ahead after going on a 31-3 run.
What Else? WKU RB Leon Allen ran 33 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns
- Total yards: WKU 561 – Army 333
- Army RB Larry Dixon running 15 times for 131 yards and a score
- WKU QB Brandon Doughty completed 16-of-25 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for a score
Game Rating: C
Nov. 8 at Army 35, Connecticut 21
And You Care Because … Connecticut was driving for a possible game-tying touchdown in the final seconds, but Chandler Whitmer’s pass was picked off by Chris Carnegie for a 99-yard touchdown to seal the win. Army to two touchdown runs from both Angel Santiago and Joe Walker, and the defense held on as Whitmer ran for a touchdown in the second and threw two touchdown passes in the fourth.
What Else? Rushing yards: Army 327 – Connecticut 163
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 19-of-31 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran seven times for a team-leading 62 yards and a score
- Army QB Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 38 yards, and ran 25 times for a team-leading 97 yards and two touchdowns
- Time of possession: Army 34:15 – Connecticut 25:45
Game Rating: B
Nov. 1 Air Force 23, at Army 6
And You Care Because … The Air Force defense bottled up the Army running game, allowing just two Daniel Grochowski field goals from 42 and 46 yards out, while the offense got three Will Conant field goals and two touchdown passes from Kale Pearson to Garrett Griffin from 54 and two yards away. Army struggled to move the ball, finishing with just 169 yards.
What Else? Air Force QB Kale Pearson completed 8-of-12 passes for 141 yards and two touchdown with an interception
- Army passing: 3-of-13 for 47 yards
- Air Force RB Jacobi Owens ran 27 times for 118 yards
- Third down conversions; Air Force 8-of-18 – Army 1-of-12
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 18 at Kent State 39, Army 17
And You Care Because … Colin Reardon threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, with his seven-yard run capping off a run of 19 unanswered points to shock the Knights. Army settled for touchdown runs from Raymond Maples and Tony Giovannelli, and that was it as the offense failed to score over the final 24 minutes. Anthony Melchiori hit four field goals for the Golden Flashes.
What Else? Kent State QB Colin Reardon completed 27-of-40 passes for 360 yards and three scores with a pick, and he ran for a team-leading 42 yards and a touchdown on six carries
- Army quarterbacks combined to complete 5-of-15 passes for 35 yards and a pick
- Total yards: Kent State 467 – Army 330
- Fourth down conversions: Kent State 1-for-1 – Army 0-for-4
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 11 Rice 41, at Army 21
And You Care Because … Rice got up early and made Army try to come from behind. Mario Hull caught a five-yard touchdown pass and Driphus Jackson threw two scoring passes on the way to a 31-14 lead, and the Owls put it away in the third on Darik Dillard’s second touchdown of the game. Army tried to hang around on touchdown runs from Larry Dixon and Angel Santiago, and a seven-yard Xavier Moss scoring grab, but the Owls kept pulling away when they had to.
What Else? Rushing yards: Army 250 – Rice 182
- Rice QB Driphus Jackson completed 15-of-21 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, and ran seven times for 29 yards
- Army QB Angel Santiago completed 5-of-11 passes for 37 yards and a score, and ran 23 times for 106 yards and a touchdown
- Rice RB Jowan Davis ran 21 times for 77 yards
Game Rating: C+
Oct. 4 at Army 33, Ball State 24
And You Care Because … Army got two one-yard touchdown runs from A.J. Schurr in the first quarter, and Daniel Grochowski hit two field goals in the second as Army got up 27-10 going into the fourth quarter. But Ball State wouldn’t go away with Jahwan Edwards running for a six-yard score and Dylan Curry catching a six-yard scoring pass to pull within three, but Angel Santiago and the Knights put it away on an 11-yard touchdown run with under four minutes to go.
What Else? Army QB Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 48 yards, and ran 13 times for 89 yards and a touchdown
- Third down conversions: Army 9-of-15 – Ball State 1-of-8
- Ball State RB Jahwan Edwards ran 12 times for 142 yards and two scores
- Ball State QB Ozzie Mann completed 18-of-26 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown with a pick
Game Rating: B-
Sept. 27 Yale 49, at Army 43 OT
And You Care Because … Army’s Daniel Grochowski had a chance to win the game in regulation, but missed a 42-yard field goal, and he missed a 25-yard field goal in overtime to leave the door open. Yale came through as Tyler Varga ran for his fifth touchdown on a three-yard dash for the win. The two teams combined for 701 rushing yards, but Yale also got the passing game going with Morgan Roberts throwing for 290 yards with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ross Drwal late in the third. Down 14, the Bulldogs got the Drwal touchdown catch, and tied it up on an 18-yard Varga run with 21 seconds in the quarter. Army answered with a one-yard Angel Santiago run – his second score of the day – for a seven-point lead, but Varga’s ten-yard rushing score with 1:42 to play put the game into overtime.
What Else? Yale RB Tyler Varga ran 28 times for 185 yards and five touchdowns
- Army QB Angel Santiago completed 6-of-8 passes for 117 yards, and ran eight times for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and A.J. Schurr completed 6-of-12 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown and ran 15 times for 135 yards and a touchdown
- Yale QB Morgan Roberts completed 23-of-40 passes for 290 yards and a score with a pick, and he ran 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown
- Total yards: Yale 625 – Army 597.
Game Rating: A
Sept. 20 Wake Forest 24, Army 21
And You Care Because …Wake Forest rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to upend Army in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons scored the game’s final 10 points, including a game-winning John Wolford to E.J. Scott touchdown pass with 6:45 remaining. It was a building-block first FBS victory for rookie Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson and his rebuilding roster of young players.
What Else? Wolford enjoyed the best day of his brief college career, hitting on 25-of-35 passes for 238 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His touchdown passes went to Scott and fellow rookie TE Cam Serigne.
- Army rushed for 341 yards, its usual production on the ground, but it wasn’t enough. QB Angel Santiago led the way with 123 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
- Redshirt freshman DE Wendell Dunn has a bright future with Clawson’s team. He not only had eight stops, but 2.5 tackles were behind the line, and he forced a fumble.
- LB Jeremy Timpf was the defensive standout for the Black Knights in Winston-Salem. He had a team-high eight tackles, two stops for loss, a pick and a pass breakup.
Game Rating: B
Sept. 13 at Stanford 35, Army 0
And You Care Because … Stanford had no problems stuffing the Army attack, allowing just 207 total yards with 198 on the ground. Kevin Hogan connected with Devon Cajuste for three touchdown passes from 23, two and 15 yards out, and then Ty Montgomery took over in the fourth with a four-yard touchdown run and a 32-yard scoring grab.
What Else? Stanford QB Kevin Hogan completed 20-of-28 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns.
- Stanford RB Barry Sanders ran nine times for a game-high 92 yards.
- Army averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. QB A.J. Schurr ran for 65 yards on six carries, while Larry Dixon ran 19 times for 60 yards.
- Stanford WR Ty Montgomery caught eight passes for 86 yards and a score, and ran for a touchdown, while Devon Cajuste caught four passes for 52 yards and three scores.
Game Rating: D+
Sept. 6 at Army 47, Buffalo 39
And You Care Because … The two offenses rolled without a problem, but it was the Army ground game that took over with 341 yards led by 174 yards and two scores from Larry Dixon including scoring dashes from 23 and 45 yards out. The Knights took a 28-3 lead before the Bulls started bombing away with Joe Licata finding Devon Hughes for a 20-yard score and Marcus McGill for a 65-yarder to make it interesting. Army came up with two more scores to put it away a 47-16, but UB didn’t quit late scoring 22 unanswered points
- Army hung on. Licata ended up with 396 yards and five scores, but he threw three picks. The Army quarterbacks combined to complete all seven of their passes for 125 yards.
Game Rating: C
Okay, let’s try this again.
It’s been established that the way to win as a service academy is by running the option in some form. Air Force was terrific for years with its ground attack, and Paul Johnson and then Ken Niumatalolo made Navy into a consistent powerhouse with its running game. Army was able to run the ball under Rich Ellerson, but the wins didn’t follow.
The hiring of Ellerson should’ve worked. A veteran coach who made Cal Poly a dangerous I-AA/FCS power, he knew how to get an offense working. However, his Mustang teams could throw the ball as well as run out of the spread option, but at Army, that piece was missing. It’s one thing to commit to the ground game – and Army did, finishing third in the nation – and it’s another thing to not really want to pass the ball like Navy and Georgia Tech, but there has to be some danger of getting the ball down the field once in a while. Under Johnson, the Midshipmen and Yellow Jackets can bomb away to take advantage of cheating defenses. Meanwhile, Army was dead last in the nation in passing and 116th in efficiency.
So in comes Jeff Monken from Georgia Southern
- a Paul Johnson disciple - and now it appears that Army has the right coach with the right offense at the right time.
Yeah, it seemed that way with Ellerson, too, but this is different. This is a hot coach with a good feel for how an offense needs to be run the way Army needs to run it. His Georgia Southern Eagles were devastating on the ground, rushing for 4,227 yards past season and 44 touchdowns, averaging 360 per game, but the passing game could also click when it had to. GSU only averaged 91 yards a game through the air, but the offense averaged a whopping 19.27 yards per reception and moved the ball explosively when it had to.
Oh yeah, and the Eagles beat Florida.
Monken now is being asked to resurrect the franchise. Army has just one winning season since going 10-2 in 1996, and most painful of all, 2001 was the last time the Knights beat Navy – 12 years ago.
He inherits an interesting Army team with a solid secondary, an undersized but potentially good defensive front, and a boatload of runners who should shine behind an excellent veteran offensive line. And yes, there actually are receivers on the Army offense, and they’re good enough to be used far more.
More than anything else, Monken has to teach Army how to win.
Overall, last year’s stats are relatively even in several key areas, but Army kept getting blown out time and again. Just being more competitive would be nice, but there’s work to do to give the team the confidence to know that the systems are in place to succeed.
If any program in college football has to believe that it can overcome anything, it’s Army. Monken should be the guy who makes that happen.
What to watch for on offense: Can the offense hit the downfield pass? There won’t be any question marks about running the ball with the top five leading rushers from last year returning, but just cranking out big plays on the ground didn’t lead the way to wins. Army ran for 3,717 yards and 34 touchdowns last season, but it didn’t get the job done. For this to work, the offense has to connect on downfield plays when the opportunities are there. It might only take a few big throws here and there to open things up, and the Knights have to make them. Can Angel Santiago throw effectively enough, or is the better passer, A.J. Schnurr, going to take over to try pushing things a bit more? It’s not going to be a balanced attack – it just has to be more dangerous.
What to watch for on defense: Welcome to the 3-4. The old coaching staff got a little creative in terms of formations and personnel, running a sort of a 4-2-5 in its Double-Eagle Flex style. It was great against the pass, but a disaster against the run. The defensive backs could all tackle, but that was sort of the problem – the defensive backs were making too many tackles against the run. There won’t be a massive switch in the base formation, but Army will use two more linebackers to try to stop more running plays from getting to another level. Leading tackler Thomas Holloway was a safety who was used like a linebacker, and now he’s gone along with weakside linebacker – and the heart of the defense – Jarrett Mackey. It’s going to take some personnel tinkering and creativity, but as long as the coaching staff doesn’t have a problem with undersized linebackers, this can work.
The team will be far better if… the special teams aren’t so miserable. The secondary can’t give up so many big plays, the run defense has to be stronger, and the offense can never, ever play catchup, but the Knights really need to own the third phase and do more to put the offense and defense in better positions to succeed. The placekicking was solid with Daniel Grochowski connecting on 8-of-11 field goals, but he hit just one over the final seven games. The kickoff return game was abysmal, averaging just 15.3 yards per try and with a long return of just 26 yards – the offense was always starting with a long field to deal with. The punt return game wasn’t any better, averaging a horrific 3.4 yards per try with a long of just 12. Throw in a rough year for a punting game that averaged under 38 yards per attempt, and Army has work to do.
The Schedule: It’s not like there are too many killers to deal with – other than Stanford – and there are enough winnable games to get to six wins if all breaks right. It’s a long season, partly because the Knights don’t start in Week One and don’t finish – at least the regular season – until December 13th. It’s also a quirky slate with games against Yale and Fordham to ease things a bit, but there are only five home games overall. After starting out hosting Buffalo, Army has to go on the road for three weeks in a row with a long trip to Stanford followed up by dates against Wake Forest and Yale, and then comes the key stretch of three home games in four – taking advantage of this is a must.
Best offensive player: Senior RB Terry Baggett. There are enough weapons to not have to feature any one back, but Baggett is the best of the bunch. He made national headlines with his 304-yard, four touchdown day against Eastern Michigan, but he did more with five 100-yard games. The quarterbacks and speed backs are going to get involved to share the workload, and Baggett won’t have to be a 20-carry back, but he’ll be the tone-setter and go-to runner.
Best defensive player: Senior S Geoffery Bacon. A big hitter who knows how to produce, whether he plays free safety or strong, he’ll be one of the team’s top tacklers and could end up working like an extra linebacker at times. He’s not going to get behind the line, and he might not make enough plays when the ball is in the air, but for a promising, veteran secondary that could be in for a strong year, he’ll be the leader.
Key player to a successful season: Senior NT Richard Glover. A woefully undersized nose tackle at just 6-0 and 247 pounds, he’s not going to anchor the line by any means. However, he’s quick off the ball, active, and experienced enough to be a key part of the rotation after making 34 tackles with a sack and five tackles for loss. Depending on the style and system, he’ll be the key part of the line working in a variety of ways. The longer he can hold up, the better the run D will be.
The season will be a success if ... it’s off to the Locheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
vs. an American Athletic team. That’s the Army bowl tie-in, and getting to a post-season game for the first time since 2007 is possible considering the new coaching staff and all the talent and experience returning. Beating Yale and Fordham have to be givens, even if the Rams are the stars of the Patriot League. It’ll take something special to be favored in any game other than, possibly, a road trip to WKU and possibly the home opener against Buffalo, but the goal has to be six wins. It’s time to start winning.
Key game: Dec. 13 vs. Navy. Enough is enough. Army should’ve won two years ago, but last year’s 34-7 loss was back to the doldrums after 12 years of losing to the archrival. Beating Buffalo in the opener is a must to have any hope of going bowling – Army can’t give away home dates – and sneaking away with a road win at Kent State and WKU could be a must to get to six wins, but bowl, schmowl. Beat Navy, and Jeff Monken’s first season will be a success.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Time of Possession: Army 32:09 – Opponents 27:51
- Second Quarter Scoring: Opponents 125 – Army 58
- Kickoff Return Average: Opponents 20.3 yards – Army 15.3 yards
- 2014 Army Preview -
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