The Army Black Knights hosted FCS Colgate at Michie Stadium yesterday on an absolutely perfect October afternoon and earned their second win, 42-17. The game was nominally close through the first quarter, but really, the outcome was never much in doubt. Army was the better team from start to finish. They are surely hoping that they can use this win to jumpstart the rest of their season, and they might just succeed with that if they can continue to run the ball as effectively as they did this week and avoid committing turnovers.
Army held out quite a few starters yesterday — including starting QB Tyhier Tyler, starting FB Jakobi Buchanan, leading SB Tyrell Robinson, and starting Rush LB Andre Carter II — hoping to get healthier as they head into the back half of the schedule and their early November game against Air Force.
Previously third-string firstie QB Jemel Jones got the start.
Happily, Jones played like the experienced veteran quarterback that he actually is. Jones opened Army’s first offensive series with a gorgeous 75-yard touchdown run and never looked back. He finished with 12 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in just three quarters of play. We then got our first extended look at yearling QB Bryson Daily, Army’s would-be quarterback of the future. Daily also played well, taking 4 carries for 32 yards and operating the offense effectively throughout the entirety of the fourth quarter.
Six games into the season, Army’s offense looks to be in great shape. Even missing their top three playmakers, the team rushed for 467 yards and 6 touchdowns on just 55 carries (8.5 yards/carry). They scored touchdowns on their first four offensive drives and really only slowed once the benches emptied and the team’s plebe back-ups started getting into the game. Even then, the only thing that really slowed this Army attack was a series of False Start and procedure penalties, more the effects of nerves in experienced players than anything else. But even with the JV squad on the field, Colgate’s defense was overmatched at every level all day long.
Colgate QB Michael Brescia went 16/25 passing (64%) for all of 129 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Defensively, we’ll take that every time. Brescia threw with decent accuracy, but he didn’t succeed in pushing the ball down the field, meaning that Army’s bend-but-don’t-break defense did its job. Indeed, the Red Raiders offense averaged just 5.4 yards/attempt through the air.
That’s not going to beat anybody.
The problem was that Colgate also ran for 193 yards and a touchdown on just 32 carries (6.0 yards/carry!). This presents a legitimate worry. Brescia personally carried 13 times for 78 yards and touchdown (6.0 yards/carry). RB Max Hurleman added 9 carries for 73 yards (8.1 yards/carry). Overall, Colgate converted 7/14 third downs, though just 1/3 fourth downs. Even so, that’s not really what you want to see in an FCS match-up.
The good news is that Army forced two fumbles, recovered one, and pulled in an interception. Those turnovers kept Colgate’s rushing success from translating to points on the scoreboard several times and therefore helped Army stay dominant during the back half of the game. It’s worth noting, too, that the Black Knights also shut Colgate out in the second half.
They also didn’t fumble, and if they can continue to not-fumble, then their offense and their pass defense can probably help them win enough games to get bowl eligible. This team certainly has enough talent. So far, though, that kind of iron-willed ball security has eluded this team. Indeed, even in this game the Black Knights turned the ball over on a pass that was batted at the line and subsequently ruled to have gone backwards. That was kind of a tough call, and it led to a Red Raiders touchdown that kept the game relatively close for a lot longer than it probably needed to be.
A win is a win, and there was a lot to celebrate in this one in particular. Anytime you can rush for damn-near 500 yards and force multiple turnovers, you’re doing pretty well. Really, this was exactly the kind of game we might hope the team can use to set the tone for the rest of the season. Now, though, they need turn their attention to Lousiana-Monroe and a Warhawk football team that is much, MUCH better than the winless squad the Black Knights murdered at Michie Stadium two years ago.
We know this Army team can run the football. If they can also avoid turnovers and/or tighten up against the run, they have a truly excellent chance to move to 3-4 this week. This in turn would give them the chance to regain control of the season’s momentum overall.
All of that needs to start with another week of quality, well-executed football.