November 5, 2012

Army's offense vs. Rutgers' defense

Army Victory Snaps Losing Streak

Army's impressive 20 point victory over Air Force is the first home victory Army has against Air Force in 15 years, whereby 1996 was the last year the Black Knights managed to defeat the Falcons at Michie Stadium.

Since then, Army was only able to defeat Air Force once in Colorado Springs in 2005, making this a monumental victory for the Black & Gold. Also, this win snapped a three-game losing streak and gives Army their second win of the 2012 season. The win is crucial as they head into the home stretch of their schedule with an away bout at Rutgers this upcoming weekend, followed by the final home game against Temple, and concluded by the colossal Army-Navy game in December. The Black Knights will have to take the momentum Saturday's win over Air Force into the upcoming games to ensure they finish the season strongly and win the Commander-in-Chief's trophy.

Of course one of the challenges for Coach Ellerson and his staff is to ensure that the players process the win over the Falcons in a manner that move forward this week in practice with one goal in mind .... get ready to play against a very mad Rutgers team on the road.

Steelman Leads the Charge

The Army offense was very successful this weekend in putting points on the board. They were given a lot of assistance from the defense who forced 5 turnovers often giving Army great field position. The 414 total yards of offense was very evenly distributed among a myriad of players.

Interestingly, Trent Steelman had 100 passing yards as he connected with Raymond Maples, Trenton Turrentine, Chevaughn Lawrence, and Patrick Laird each one time. This passing game that started in the first half opened up the ground game, allowing the Knights to rush for 314 yards. Steelman had another 100-yd rushing game, and the 101 yards rushing he had makes him the 3rd all time rusher overall for the Black Knights with 2,983 career rushing yards. This puts him one spot ahead of Heisman trophy winner Glenn Davis who was previously the third all time rusher for the Black & Gold.

Additionally, Steelman rushed for 2 of the Black Knights' 5 touchdowns. Larry Dixon and Maples each rushed for 1 touchdown and linebacker, Nate Combs, recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

Steelman was assisted on the ground by Dixon, who had 89 yards rushing on 18 carries; Maples, who had 73 yards rushing over 20 carries; and Turrentine, who averaged nearly 6 yards a carry with 47 yards on 8 touches.

Army dominated the time of possession battle with just over 36 minutes of offense compared to the Falcons' 24 minutes of possession. This allowed the Black Knights to control the pace of the game and utilize the clock in their favor. Unfortunately, however, the Knights suffered costly penalties that luckily didn't affect the outcome of the contest.

Tracking the Turnovers

One major advantage the Black & Gold had on Saturday involved their ability to hold on to the ball. Army won the turnover margin immensely and didn't lose the ball once to interception or fumble. Conversely, the Army defense forced five turnovers giving the Black Knights great field position, closing off drives by Air Forces, but it also Army to accumulate unanswered points in the process. After the game Army head coach Rich Ellerson commented, "[Army] winning the turnover battle is crucial … to go 60 minutes on offense and not turn the ball over you're going to be successful."

Army's offensive success against Air Forces Saturday was primarily due to their ability to utilize all of their offensive opportunities. Turnovers hurt any team because they eliminate the possibility of scoring and as the Falcons found out, it often allows your opponent to take over with great field position. In addition, as eventually manifested itself on Saturday ... it can be a demoralizer to any team as the defense is forced to go back onto the field prematurely and also negates all the work the offense put in to move the ball. The Falcons felt the pangs of this on Saturday as their turnovers led to 2 Army touchdowns and a field goal.

The Road Ahead

The Black Knights only have three more games this season and they hope to carry momentum into their upcoming match-ups against Scarlet Knights out of Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers is 7-1 on the season and is ranked No. 23 in the BCS standing. Army, who has played Rutgers close in their last two outings, will go down to High Point Solutions Stadium looking to avenge last year's loss at Yankee Stadium this Saturday, November 10.

Rutgers has an outstanding defense allowing just 14 points a game and is ranked 14th in the nation in overall defense.

Where the two Northeast schools will have their identities challenged is when Army has the ball. Hence, it will match-up the nation's leading rushing offense at 375.44 yards per game versus the 4th best rushing defense (88.50 yds per game) in the country.

But the Army offense has proven that they can move the ball on anyone this year multiple times, as such, the burden of Saturday's game will most likely fall on Army's ability to minimize an above average and balanced Rutgers' offense.

Following the matchup with Rutgers, Army will return to Michie Stadium to host the Temple Owls. The next two games will be tough for the Black Knights, but they are in a position to carry momentum from this mile-stone of a win into their upcoming match-ups and look to improve their record to 4-7.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!