This is not going to be the most numbers-heavy piece. I will apologize upfront for it. That said, I am not sure how to soften the blow here. Friends, Army is in the midst one of the most challenging seasons in recent memory. If I told you that Army ran a balanced offense with one TD pass and 182 yards passing plus 225 yards rushing at a pace of 4 yards/play, you might be forgiven for assuming that they’d won.
Final: #15 Wake Forest 45, Army 10— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) October 9, 2022
I will be honest here. Wake, on paper, was the better team. But one of the things about football is that you cannot believe what other people tell you because when you start to listen, you don’t give yourself a chance. This is an Army team that kept the score tight with Ohio State, took Michigan and Oklahoma to overtime, and beat Missouri in a bowl game. All of those games have one thing in common. The team thought they could win on the field and therefore played as if the only people they were trying to impress were their teammates.
Running the ball, controlling the clock, and scoring on offense is simple in concept. Army had two long drives that chewed up the clock in the second half, but they missed a field goal, and couldn’t convert on a critical 4th down. This team, at least, refused to give up even when they were down 38 points in the third quarter. Alas, they made some mistakes and turned the ball over when they needed to grind out drives, and that wound up mattering a lot.
On Defense, they need to play as a team. All the postseason accolades and NFL scouts seem to be distracting the team from what is essential. Although it would be awesome to have Rush LB Andre Carter drafted into the NFL, no one player is the entire defense. It’s like Ranger school. If you meet a guy that was the most badass ranger in school, he still has to work as part of a team to succeed. This team needs team defense. We see way too many one-on-one tackles where we need to see a gang of 7 to 11 Army jerseys flying to the football, trying to run through the ball carrier.
On special teams, guys have to shine when they have the opportunity. A muffed punt in the first half and a missed field goal are opportunities to contribute to the effort. When those things go awry, it digs the hole deeper for the entire team.
But maybe we’re in need of a little context here. Army’s opponents are 20-9 to this point in the season, meaning that Army has played some seriously legit teams. If the team had clicked, then the UTSA, Georgia State, and Coastal games were all winnable. That’s not where we find ourselves, but we’re also not as far away as it might seem, either. Thus, the real question for the team — and for the fans — is this:
What will you do for the rest of the season?
Unlike the NFL, there is no reward for last place. The team won’t get a first-rounder if they finish with the worst record in college football. So we have three potential ways forward.
1. Play/Watch one game at a time.
Comparing previous games and previous teams to the current team is not fair to current fans or players. We have a generation of grads who never got to see Army beat Navy, and that’s even without mentioning the debacle of the 2003 season.
Army fans have been living in what-might-have-been all season. Thus, frustration and disappointment. Right now, though, let’s be 1-0 this week.
2. Be around people with whom you can talk openly about the team.
That’s where I think As for Football comes in. We are Army fans, but we will try to be objective and honest in our team assessment. We’re also trying to maintain a little perspective and hoping to keep things fun when we can.
3. If you can’t keep it positive, then stay off social media.
You will never meet a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Social media is toxic, and there are a lot of people who enjoy the toxicity. Shitposting losers literally exist for the opportunity to say something contrary and make everything worse. We all know this.
There was a fair adjacent to the stadium last night. The last thing I heard as I was walking back towards my car after the game came from a guy who was coming back from that fair, also heading towards the parking lots.
“You have to take the loss in stride,” he said. “Army has a great program, and you have come a long way.”
It might not feel that way today, but what he said remains is a truthful statement.
There is enough division in the world. I am good with 60 minutes on the fields of friendly strife, and the rest of the time, we need just to try to make it through the day together.