Amy lost the rubber match in its three games over 13 month series with North Texas 52-49. Here is the Black Knight report card:
Rushing Offense: A+
It is hard to fault the Army rushing offense for this loss. There was a sense that it would be difficult for Army to run the ball successfully on North Texas given that the Mean Green now know the Black Knights system and tendencies so well. The truth was entirely different though, as Army dominated on the ground in a way that must have pleased head coach Jeff Monken.
Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was – as often is the case – the star. He rushed 27 times for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the second time in three weeks he has crossed the 200 plateau on the ground. The interesting aspect of Bradshaw’s day was that he hit that mindboggling rushing total while being held to a long run of 31 yards. That means he was consistently running for long gains, without ever breaking off a monster.
In total, the Black Knights rushed for an astonishing 534 yards and seven touchdowns on 67 carries.
Passing Offense: D
The stats are simple. Bradshaw was 1-of-3 for 27 yards passing on the day. Army though is still so bad in obvious passing situations. Of the three passing attempts on the day, the one with just over a minute left in the first quarter was the most telling. Facing fourth down from the North Texas 36, Monken decided to eschew a 53-yard field goal attempt – or more likely a punt – to go for 11 yards and a first down.
You feel that if Monken could change any aspect of his offense it would be their ability to convert situations like this into first downs. Somewhat unsurprisingly the pass was incomplete and the ball was turned over on downs.
Rushing Defense: B-
The Black Knights defense will be glad to see the back of North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson. Unless the Mean Green are the chosen opponents for Army in their bowl game, they shouldn’t have to game plan to stop the talented runner ever again. Wilson carried 19 times for 72 yards this time out against the Black Knights, which is actually a pretty good defensive display given his talent level. Even when stopping Wilson though the Mean Green’s star running back got his scores, crossing for two touchdowns including the first North Texas score of the day.
Passing Defense: D-
It was the passing defense that cost Army on Saturday. North Texas quarterback Mason Fine was dialed in from the very beginning, finishing the contest completing 24-of-36 passes for 386 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Army loves to play the bend but don’t break defense, but Fine did an outstanding job of picking that style of defense apart, finding receivers that always seemed to be just open enough to turn a simple catch into a big gain by picking up yards after the catch.
Wide receiver Turner Smiley was also a problem for Army. Smiley may only have had three catches, but he was the definition of a big play guy as those three grabs went for 123 and two touchdowns. Most damaging though was a quick completion to the sideline on the final drive of the game for the Mean Green. This allowed Trevor Moore to kick his game-winning field goal from 10 yards closer, greatly increasing the probability of the kick being good.
Special Teams: D-
The Black Knights one turnover on Saturday came on special teams, so there is automatically a big downgrade for this unit. Mike Reynolds was returning a punt when he fumbled at his own 7-yard line. Taylor Robinson recovered for North Texas, giving the Mean Green an immediate chance to score as they took possession of the ball well within scoring range. Wilson ran the ball in two plays later to put Army down 21-7, compounding the special teams mistake. Blake Wilson also missed an extra point as the Army special teams unit had an altogether bad day at the office.
The coaching job by Monken was decent without being spectacular. When you put up over 550 yards of office and 49 points on the road you would probably expect that your team would be returning home with a win. Army outgained their hosts, but the defensive performance was not at the level that we have come to expect from this group in 2017. On the plus side, Monken now has a few weeks off before he has to send his defensive unit out onto the field again in the Army-Navy game.