October 5, 2010

GBK: Time to get back on track

There is no doubt that Saturday's loss to Temple was a blow to the gut of the Army football team and the staff as well.

This isn't 2009 where just being competitive in such a game, let alone the possibility of winning is some sort of moral victory.

This is 2010 and albeit an Army team that is still maturing, the game against the Owls or anyone else on the schedule is an expected win.

But now it's Tuesday and the proverbial question is, how will the coaches and players respond to their 42-35 loss, that saw Temple run off 29 unanswered points in a game that Army controlled for the majority of the afternoon.


But another related question, where Army has not found itself positioned over the past few years is … "How do you get the players/team to knock their opponent out, when they have them on the ropes?"

We saw signs of this in Army's 24-0 shutout of North Texas, along with their 35-21 win of Duke. Yes, both victories, but it's not until that final whistle do you walk away insured of the win.

Such was the case with Temple, as the Black Knights took an impressive 28-13 early 3rd quarter lead. However, you could feel the wind taken out of the sails of an Army team that had just marched 74 yards down the field for a touchdown on 13 plays (6:49); when on the ensuing kickoff, Temple returned it 92 yards for a potential score. Yes, the score was nullified because of a holding call, but five plays later, along with a Stephen Anderson personal foul, the Owls were back in it and Army seemed emotionally out of it.

There is no doubt of this team's resilience and they will never give up, but that's a different story, which fans witnessed in first two games of the season against Eastern Michigan and Hawaii … where the team is down, but fights back.

Fast forward to "now". Now is an Army team that has come out of the box both offensively and defensively and they are now the team being chased versus being the chaser.

Clearly a new role for the Black Knights, but one that they better start getting use to, because they have the talent and weapons as demonstrated in their last three games against North Texas, Duke and Temple.

This is a team that has an outstanding coaching staff, but also laced with solid senior leadership in the likes of Stephen Anderson, Patrick Mealy, Josh McNary, Mike Gann, Donovan Travis, Jordan Trimble, Zach Peterson and others.

When talking to these players, many of whom have been together since their days at the USMAPS, you know they have the swagger, the passion and the desire to leave their imprint on this program before they graduate.

I believe that as of today's practice, it will be the aforementioned team leaders, along with some of the non-senior players like Steve Erzinger Trent Steelman, Jarrett Mackey, and Antuan Aaron that will rebound come Saturday. If anything, this will be an angry Army football team, who knows that missed an opportunity against Temple, but …


… the but is simple. This team had four goals to start the season and those goals are still within reach.

The number one goal for the team is to win the next game. Well, the next game is Tulane and the Black Knights will be looking to put a mark next to "Goal To Do List" for goal #1.

The next goal is also still there, and that's turnover margin (lead the nation). Although they only created one turnover against Temple, the offense did not allow any. Presently, the team is a plus 10 in the turnovers and currently are ranked 2nd in the nation.

Goal number three is winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and that goal is still on the table.

And the final goal is to win a bowl game.

So everything this team wants to accomplish is still attainable. Did the Temple loss hurt? Yes, but Ellerson and staff had Monday to look at the tape, see where there were breakdowns and now it's all about getting ready for the Green Wave of Tulane … and accomplishing the first two goals, as they work closer to the last two.

The Army - Tulane game at New Orleans, La. (Louisiana Superdome) is scheduled for a 3:30 (ET) kickoff.

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