Quick thoughts: Eastern Michigan

Army’s linebacking depth took a hit. Not sure of the extent of injuries to starters Nate Combs or Steve Erzinger yet. Seemed like Combs’ knee injury was pretty serious from the radio sideline report. Didn’t see what happened to Erzinger, but he missed most of the second half.Army is already without junior Andrew Rodriguez, its leading tackler last season, for the foreseeable future with a back injury.

Sean Westphal was playing well (three tackles) in place of Erzinger before he was sidelined in the fourth quarter.

Give junior linebacker Chad Littlejohn a lot of credit. Littlejohn, a former fullback, replaced Combs in the first quarter and got in his pops. He finished with seven tackles and a sack. Not bad for your college game under fire.

Freshman rover Justin Trimble was thrown into the fire in the last two defensive series and didn’t blink.

I’m a little surprised senior middle linebacker Kingsley Ehie didn’t get on the field on defense. Army coach Rich Ellerson said earlier this week he was comfortable putting the converted fullback out there. That would move captain Stephen Anderson to the whip linebacker. Guess the coaches felt Littlejohn was playing well enough to not warrant the move, which he was.

Speaking of Anderson, he had 10 tackles in his first game back since a major knee injury. Anderson had the speed to track down Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett from across the field and was in on many run stuffs.

Man, luck was on Army’s side on two fumbles. Pat Mealy was alert enough to pounce a rolling football after fullback Jared Hassin was drilled by linebacker Tim Fort on his first college carry. Mealy recovered at Army’s 43 on the second play of its opening drive, trailing 7-0. Don’t know how it happened but Trent Steelman was able to grab his errant pitch on a bounce after five yards behind the play’s origin and ran across the field right to left and gain seven yards on a play destined to loose at least 10 on the fourth play of Army’s final, game-winning drive.

Army won the all-important turnover battle 3-1. Sophomore cornerback Josh Jackson, who is going to make it hard for coaches to take him off the field, and junior special teams player Bill Prosko forced and fell on a fumble on Eastern Michigan’s first kick return of the second half.

I thought slotback Brian Cobbs was going to be good, but I didn’t think greatness would happen on his first second college carry. Cobbs raced 39 yards, showing he could be Army’s answer to a gamebreaker on offense.

I know it’s only one game but Army converted 9 of 14 third-down conversations (64 percent), another sign Army’s offense has dramatically improved. Army’s third-down conversation percentage was 29 percent last season.

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