Extended Evening Study Period: Duke Game Superlatives
Well…that is not the way we wanted to start the season, but I am always behind the Army Team, no matter the score or season record. Don’t mistake my unwavering support for a lack of objectivity when it comes to predictions (see last week’s Game Preview as I didn’t pick Army to win). Never fear Army Fans, this loss will not be indicative of the remainder of the season. Duke is good and we had a list of obstacles longer than Beast CIF Basic Issue: Road Game on Friday, ACC Home Opener, Duke Returning 3xAll Americans (1xFreshman), 16 Total Returning Starters, 3 Year Starting Quarterback. For the good effort and the reasons mentioned above, the entire team will only be in extended evening study period for this week. An embarrassing loss would warrent room restriction or worse.
The overarching issue was the Offense’s inability to hold onto the football. We fumbled on the opening drive after the defense forced a 3 and out. After the “bend but don’t break” defense held Duke to a Field Goal, the offense faded like your battle buddy during night land navigation. We settled for a field goal attempt… which we missed. One thing I’ve learned over the last nine years is to never trust Army Special Teams. I also question the choice to pass on 3rd and 5 at the Duke 16. I agree with throwing the ball a little more, but this is the ACC on the Road. Get me 3 yards and we will go for it on 4th down!
On their next possession the Blue Devils scored their first touchdown. Question: What did the Cadets do next on the next drive? Answer: Fumble (Double Underlined). With all the momentum on their side at this point, Duke scored again after a 61 yard pass to Aaron Young, making it 17-0. Our next drive ended in a punt, but the defense was able to keep Daniel Jones and company out of the endzone before the half. After punting on our opening drive of the second half, the defense forced and recovered a fumble. Finally, the offense began to click as they exchanged blows with Duke scoring on their next two possessions. Well, that brings us to the end of the game where Kelvin took a huge sack on second down making it 3rd and 23 from the Duke 30. What followed next was another Special Team blunder as our field goal attempt was blocked. The rest of the game details will be covered in the superlatives below.
Kelvin Hopkins Jr. – Ride in Parachute Team’s Helicopter
You deserve to feel the joy of flight after your excellent aerial performance. Against Duke you threw for 54% of our TOTAL YARDS from last season. No interceptions and an almost 50% completion rate. The only negative was the two fumbles on the ground. As a penalty, we are only letting you ride along. Avoid those pesky turnovers and you’ll be jumping with the team next week! Don’t worry I only played in one game in 2012 and I never came close to touching the ball. If I did, I would have fumbled it too.
James Gibson and Wunmi Oyetuga – Choice of MRE during your next FTX
Being both Firsties, I realize that the next FTX may come as young Second Lieutenants in BOLC, but in the field, “good meals” are always in high demand. After Gibby knocked the ball out, Oyetuga pounced on it like a MRE Chicken & Dumplings entree as the new box is opened. Better luck next time #77, you get the Cheese and Veggie Omelet.
Army Defense – Ice Tub in Athletic Training Office Instead of Tubs Under the Stadium
That’s right, no more lukewarm water with grass floating all around. You can enjoy the 40 Degree Tub with Toe Warmers on. After sending the Blue Devils 3 and out on the opening possession only to return immediately to the field after a fumble (at our own 32) and hold them to a field goal, you guys deserve the extra ice. Have Coach Bateman bring his Dry Erase Markers so he can go over the Liberty install on the window facing the pool while you guys chill out!
Camden Harrison – Positive COR
Write this man a positive COR for leadership and accountability! This Yearling caught Duke’s upper class secondary sleeping during AMI. Harrison even gigged them for sloppy beds and untied shoes. Naturally, his proud TAC will identify him as a future Cadet Sergeant Major to lead the Corps in discipline and standards. His attention to detail and social courage will make him a prime target for Hopkins in Army’s emerging passing attack.
Szott’s Fixed Opinion:
I’m not going to sugar coat it. This game was difficult to watch given my optimism and excitement heading into this season. But, being an Army fan can be a frustrating and heartbreaking occupation (albeit excellent resiliency training). We were plagued with two old adversaries: fumbles and poor kicking. Facing these adversaries and a good Duke team, Army was overmatched. There were plenty of high points that indicate this season is far from over. The defense had flashes of brilliance. Hopkins has a promising arm. The running attack started warming up. Liberty will offer an excellent opportunity for Army to learn from Week 1 and get to .500.