November 11, 2012
GBK: Sunday's Notebook
Entering Saturday's contest versus No. 24 Rutgers, the Black Knights were 18 point underdogs to their rival Knights ... the Scarlet Knights.On 4th & 6 (10:43), at the Army 36 yard line, punter Chris Boldt shanks one and the net is 9 yards to the Black Knights' 45. Four plays later, Nova finds an open Coleman once again, this time over Justin Trimble and a 14-7 Rutgers' lead.
However, Army's offense and defense showed that they could care less what the odds makers thought, or anyone else for that matter.
And if you looked at the overall stats, especially for the first three quarters, Army dominated Rutgers.
The offense was lead by quarterback Trent Steelman, who ran for 102 yards, along with the Black Knights' lone score/touchdown on the day. Then you had fullback Larry Dixon chime in with 81 yards, despite missing the latter part of the 1st quarter and all of the 2nd & 3rd. Although it seems like awhile since Raymond Maples eclipsed the century mark, the junior slotback added 58 yards on 13 carries.
This was a Black Knights offense that entered the campaign as the nation's leading rushing offense, but was facing the country's 4th ranked defense against the run. On the day Army rushed for 282 yards and failed short of their typical 300 yards plus rushing day time since Sept. 29th versus Stony Brook (273 yards).
Not So Special Teams
Going into the 4th quarter, the score remained deadlocked at 7-7.
However, before you could yell upset, Rutgers would put up 14 points as a direct result of Army's inept special team's play. The first portion of the game were the squandered field goal opportunities, and then the 2nd half it became the punting circus.
On Army next series they are forced to punt. With a 4th & 9 from 36, the snap goes over Bolt's head and recovered by RU at the Army one yard line. Two plays later, Jamison hits paydirt. With 6:28 remaining in the game, Rutgers' lead is extended to 21-7.
However, the foul play of Army's special teams didn't start with punting game, but the other foot soldiers, as in the field goal crew.
With the "D" playing solid on Rutgers' first offensive series, Army took over and when the drive stalled on the Scarlet Knights' 23 yard line, Daniel Grochowski was called upon to attempt a 43 yard field. However, wide receiver Patrick Laird's failure to pick up the outside rush of defensive back Marcus Cooper allowed Cooper to waltz in off the right edge to block Grochowski's kick and keep Army from adding to their 7-0 lead.
Grochowski's miss was followed by a Rutgers 74 yards drive and eventual 16 yard touchdown pass from RB, Jawan Jamison to WR, Brandon Coleman and a 7-7 tie.
The field goad attempt episode would repeat itself two possessions later as the Black Knights drive to the Scarlet Knights' 13 yard line and "Groch" is called upon again ... this time from 30 yards out just before halftime.
However, Rutgers's interior line surge along with Army's OL's inability to contain the rush results in another block field goal attempt and with :27 seconds remaining .... the half ends, with a 7-7 tie.
"Groch (Dan Grochowski) has been better than that," offered Army head coach Rich Ellerson during Saturday post game press conference. However, the the Black Knights' mentor shared that he is not reluctant to make a change at that position and if Army was placed in the position on Saturday to attempt another field goal ... it would have occurred. "We are slow. We are low. I'm going to give Eric (Osteen) some opportunities. We got a kickoff guy that deserves a chance to take a swing. Groch is going to be just fine. He's got to go back to work and make some of those things that are routine, routine. They are not. The snapping, we lost our long snapper a couple of weeks ago. So our short snapper is out there long snapping and that's a concern. If we had a better one handy, we would be doing it. We are better than that but you can't prove it with that performance."
The Catch ... or Not?
This is a play after reviewing it ourselves and confiding with those that provide more of an expertise in this area ... we more confident now, than we were yesterday that the play should not only have been reviewed, but Army should have be rewarded six points on Chevaughn Lawrence's.
However, when asked why the play was not reviewed, Ellerson offered this explanation.
"It was as far away from me as can be. He didn't possess it on the ground. I think that's the ruling. When you are going to the ground, you have to maintain possession."
"Obviously and despite how everything turn out today, the way our defense came out from the first snap ... the whole game and the energy we had, we were right with our eyes, our assignments and that's how we should have been playing the entire year," said Jackson after the game," said senior cornerback Josh Jackson when discussing Saturday's defensive performance and getting ready for Temple. "I heard someone on the sidelines saying this is "D" that we've been talking about when we started the beginning of the year. For us to finally get it especially against a great team like Rutgers, I agree with them. This is the defense we've talking about and I believe we can play the same type of defense against Temple."
Army's defense was able to hold the Rutgers' Jawan Jamison lead rushing to attack to just 113 yards (3.3) on the day, which is well below their season average.
Defensively, Army's youthful talent continues to progress. Last week against Air Force, Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires pulled down his first career interception and this weekend, he and inside linebacker Geoffrey Bacon both registered 12 tackles on the day against Rutgers.
Army's next game is Nov. 17th, as the Black Knights host Temple at Michie Stadium with kickoff set for 12pm (EST).
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