Miami of OH Up Next For 3-0 Black Knights
by Erin Summers
Army improved to 3-0 with a big 52-21 win over Connecticut on Saturday, September 18th. Quarterback Christian Anderson delivered -- again -- for the Black Knights, leading his team on five touchdown drives. Anderson threw for one touchdown, and ran it in himself twice. The offense was impressive once again, racking up nearly 400 yards on the ground.
The victory over UConn was impressive, and it wasn't so much that the Black Knights won, but rather how they won. Planning and preparation led to near perfect execution. All six of Army's first half drives ended with a touchdown, and the defense was pitching a 42-0 shutout at halftime.
"Really happy with the way our guys played in the first half," Army Head Coach Jeff Monken said after the game. "I thought it was a complete game: offense, defense and special teams. I thought we played really well, getting them off the field. And, obviously, when you're winning with a margin like that at halftime, you've played pretty well."
For the season Army is ranked second in the nation in time of possession, averaging 40 minutes per game. Their week three match-up against the Huskies was no exception: the Black Knights controlled the clock and methodically worked down the field. One of their second half drives ate up more than 11 minutes.
Army showed some flash, too, striking with big plays. On just their second play from scrimmage, Army senior running back Brandon Walters rushed for a 58-yard gain to set up a first and goal from the UConn 4-yard line. "I think the second play of the game was able to do that," Anderson said, "and it was a big play for us to start the game."
That big play led to an Anderson TD just two plays later.
"Over the off-season we harped on getting those big plays," Walters said, "That's one of our goals, to have more big plays in the game."
The big plays continued to come. The Black Knights had three touchdown drives in the first half that took under two minutes a piece.
Coach Monken admits the big plays aren't exactly how they draw up the offense. "We love a long drive where we where we eat up a lot of clock and leave their offense off the field, that's kind of the way we play. But in looking at what what's going to give us the best chance to turn the drive into points, when they get into a big play, or a chunk play, it really helps," he said.
With a 42-point lead at the break, Monken put in his second- and third-string players for the second half, giving younger players some valuable playing time and experience.
"It was a great, great thing to see," said Army running back Tyrell Robinson, himself a sophomore, who had a 70-yard touchdown run in the first half. "Watching them on the sideline and cheering them on, coaching them up when they get back to the sideline. It really felt good to see them out there."
"What that does," Monken added, "is gives them the confidence and the experience so that if they do have to go into a game when the game's on the line, they're not wide-eyed and white-knuckled. They're comfortable being out there.
"What we found out is we've got to get a lot better," Monken continued, admitting that the back-ups are still a work in progress. "We have got to build depth. We missed tackles. We didn't sustain blocks. We let back-to-back kickoff returns go for touchdowns. That's all very disappointing to me because my standard doesn't drop for a second, or third, or fourth, or whatever string guy was in there."
It's comments like that that are part of how Jeff Monken keeps his team motivated after a 31-point win.
Up next, Army plays University of Miami of Ohio and has the opportunity to go 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 1996. The RedHawks are coming off of a big win themselves: 42-7 over Long Island, and have a 1-2 record for the season.
(And, by the way, that game against UConn was the second week in a row that Army didn't have to punt once!)
edited for web by Joe Harman