Army will meet Navy later this season in a one on one matchup to win the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after the Black Knights took care of business against Air Force. Here is the report card:
Rushing Offense: A
Army managed to rush for 392 yards against a team that practices stopping the triple-option as much as any school the Academy is going to face in 2017. It was a masterful display by the rushing offense as the play calling and execution worked in a perfect balance to keep the Falcons defensive players guessing and allowing Army to pick up chunk plays at crucial times.
The star of the show was quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw accounted for more than half of the Black Knights total offense in this one as he rushed for 265 yards on 23 carries. Air Force just couldn’t stop Bradshaw as he evaded tacklers and bounce off of hits on his way to a monster performance. The other two big players were Kell Walker (15 carries, 67 yards, two touchdowns) and Darnell Woolfolk (17 carries, 54 yards). Those three players had every yard of offense the Black Knights picked up but six on a truly remarkable day.
Passing Offense: C+
I’m struggling a little with how to grade this.
Army won by 21 points without so much as attempting a forward pass. This is probably the dream of all triple-option coaches, when their ground game is working so well that taking to the air is not a requirement. This is especially true for Army in 2017 where the accuracy of the passing game has been way more miss than hit. I don’t want to give this a grade of incomplete, because the non-passing really was part of the offense. We will go with a middle grade purely on the basis that no passes means no interceptions.
Rushing Defense: A
The last time Air Force was shut out in a college football game George Bush the first was in office. The last time the Falcons were shut out at home was three days before Americans took to the polls to choose between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter way back in 1980. That was how good the Army defense was on Saturday.
There was a missed field goal in the first quarter that would have changed the narrative a little if it had hit, but the Army defense was dominant in Colorado Springs. The biggest effort of the day came when Army stuffed a Falcons drive deep in Black Knights’ territory halfway through the fourth quarter. That extra effort catapulted the offense into a scoring drive of their own that put this one to bed with Air Force having picked up just 89 yards on the ground for the contest.
Passing Defense: B
The passing defense was not as spectacular as the rushing defense, but the secondary did well in the air against a triple=option squad that is much more willing and capable to throw the ball than most others running this offense. In Arion Worthman the Falcons have a quarterback that is just as dangerous with his arm as his legs and the Black Knights knew they had to be assignment sound on the back end of the defense, especially on those play action passes that look like option runs until the last moment. Army held Worthman under 100 yards passing on 6-of-11 through the air and while all of his completions went for over 10 yards, there were none of the big, game changing plays that Army feared coming into the contest.
Special Teams: D
Almost nothing happened on special teams for Army in this game. The Black Knights had no punts, no punt returns, no kick returns, just nothing of note. The only special teams action was in the kicking game, somewhere that Army was not perfect.
Blake Wilson hit all three of his extra points, but he was guilty of missing a field goal with the first play of the second quarter. We have talked at length here about how Wilson struggles with longer attempts, but there really is no excuse for missing a 30-yard field goal attempt at this point in the season.
This was a coaching master class put on by Jeff Monken. The Army head coach completely nullified the Air Force offense with his game plan and Army got rolling on the ground early, never relenting as the team run over Air Force. It is hard to achieve this level of domination against a team that you play on a yearly basis as they know all your schemes and ideas, but somehow Army was able to dominate Air Force in a way the Falcons fans had not seen in a generation on their own turf.