The Army Black Knights lost a Commander In Chief’s Trophy game to Air Force this past Saturday, a painful occurrence for any West Point football team under any set of circumstances in any season. No losses are harder to shake off for service academy programs than losses to academy rivals. Nevertheless, Army grew as a team in Colorado Springs.
By Matt Zemek
This was a game in which Army clearly made progress after two months of drift and confusion. Army finally played with the force and physicality which recalled the previous few seasons of success and triumph. A reworked offensive line with several new faces getting a majority of the snaps worked wonders. Army’s no-pass tactics from previous years gave way to a world in which the Black Knights looked legitimately good in the passing game. Jabari Laws hit multiple vertical strikes and completed a very high percentage of his passes.
Jeff Monken and his staff showed the capacity to adapt and make tough decisions with the roster. Those decisions didn’t lead to victory, but they did lead to the best performance of the 2019 season, which gives Army real hope of rising up in December to beat Navy and share the CIC Trophy, which would keep the piece of hardware in West Point for another year.
Yes, it is very disappointing that the Black Knights lost and fell to 3-6, but the team which nearly beat Air Force (the Falcons could win 10 games this season) could go on a four-game winning streak, beat Navy, and make a bowl game at 7-6. The first of those four games is against UMass this weekend.
1 – New O-Line, New Hope
Left tackle Luke McCleery, left guard Jake Baumert, center Noah Knapp, right guard Dean Powell – these four offensive linemen had primarily been backups this season, but they started at Air Force and improved the Black Knights’ attack. Let’s see these young men continue to develop. If they continue to play well, Army will know it has the right combination up front, something which had been missing in September and October.
2 – The New Offense
Army didn’t just throw for over 210 yards against Air Force. It made big plays in big situations. The 87-yard touchdown connection from Jabari Laws to Camden Harrison gave Army the lead. More downfield throws on Army’s last drive put the Black Knights seven yards from a possible upset victory over the Falcons. The days of not passing are gone. Now Army is in position to be multiple and versatile with its offense, keeping defenses off balance not just with the triple option, but with the pass. Army needs to continue to ride that advantage into this game and the rest of the season.
3 – Finish
Army did so many good things against Air Force, but two drives were stopped inside the 5.
Finish. That’s it. That’s the tweet.