In a game that was intriguing on paper, the Black Knights found themselves overmatched by an angry Ohio State squad. Here is the report card from the 38-7 loss:
Rushing Offense: C+
This is a grade based on the overall production of the rushing attack and not taking into consideration who Army was playing. The rushing attack looked great for the first half of the game: and flashed for periods in the second 30 minutes: as the Black Knights piled up 259 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Darnel Woolfolk was the key Army runner on the day as he went for 74 yards and a score on his 15 carries.
As well as Army ran the ball at times, they were unable to break the big plays when needed to finish drives and score touchdowns. The Ohio State defensive front is loaded with players who will be early round picks in an upcoming NFL draft and those guys won their one on one battles often enough to slow Army down. This was especially noticeable as Ahmad Bradshaw was contained all game, rushing for just 50 yards on 19 carries.
Passing Offense: F
The passing game is just not going to be effective when playing a team like the Buckeyes who have lockdown defenders on either corner and a couple of ball playing safeties. The Army passing game hasn’t worked all year: until this game it hadn’t had to: but a 25% completion percentage and only 19 yards receiver is probably about what was expected out of Bradshaw in Columbus. The only real positive to take away here is that Army didn’t turn the ball over through the air by throwing interceptions. The rest was very forgettable.
Rushing Defense: F
The rushing defense was always going to be a problem against a side as big and as talented as Ohio State. The Buckeyes used their ground game very effectively, rushing for 270 yards and three touchdowns. They were also able to use the ground game to control the tempo of the contest as they were ripping off runs at an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
J.K. Dobbins was the main man on the ground for Ohio State. He rushed for 172 yards and a couple of scores on just 13 carries. While their backs are obvious outstanding and the threat of the quarterback run is always a problem, it was actually the work of the offensive line that doomed Army. The size and strength mismatch was just too much to overcome in the trenches.
Passing Defense: D-
This mismatch in the trenches also bled down into the passing game. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett had been hearing whispers about his lack of job security all week, but he was able to pick on the Army defense in any way that he chose. Barrett was 25-of-33 for 270 yards and a couple of scores as he had all the time in the world to sit in the pocket before either hitting an open wide receiver of taking off with the ball himself.
While the Buckeyes don’t have a particularly proficient deep passing game, they do have a host of receivers who can take a short throw and pile up yards after the catch. Army will be ok defensively in most games this season, but one on one the Buckeyes just had too many matchup advantages to be able to control them.
Special Teams: F
The Black Knights problems in this one all stemmed from one bad special teams play. The score was 17-7 to Ohio State at halftime and the Black Knights had the benefit of receiving the ball first in the second half. This wasn’t a bad position to be in as a multi-touchdown underdog on the road against a Power 5 school. Army took the kickoff and drove down to the Buckeyes 23-yard line before stalling and having to attempt a field goal. Blake Wilson missed his 43-yard attempt and the Buckeyes had both great field position and the momentum, with their home crowd going crazy. Less than 4 minutes of game time later the Black Knights were down 31-7 and the game was over as a contest.
At this level, it is a game of small margins and this one play completely altered the course of the contest.
I’m not sure Jeff Monken could really have done much more in this one. His game plan was on track until the missed field goal and then, before Army knew what had hit them, a couple of big Ohio State plays had decided the game. Everyone knows this Army offense is not built to chase down a lead, so Monken was trying to keep it as close as possible for as long as possible. Unfortunately player error, as opposed to poor coaching decisions or play calling, ended up costing the Black Knights and making the score look far better for the Buckeyes that it probably should have been.