Quick thoughts: Temple

Lincoln Financial Field is Army’s “House of Horrors.”

Plain and simple.

Army hasn’t won at the Linc in 11 games. Yep, 0-11.

Whether it’s Navy safety Wyatt Middleton picking Trent Steelman’s fumble out of the air and taking it back 99 yards for a score or Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon’s muffed exchange last year as Army seemed destined to snap a 10-game  losing streak to Navy or now a flat first-half effort against winless Temple Saturday, Army’s play at Linc defies logic.

Maybe this game was lost on the coin flip. Army won & deferred, putting a banged-up defense, missing four starters, on field and leaving an offense, which rolled up 513 yards against Eastern Michigan in the previous week on the sideline.  Army won two of its previous three coin tosses on the road this season and elected to receive both times (at Ball State & Boston College).

Was Temple’s fake, quarterback sneak, which turned into a 37-yard touchdown pass, well executed? Somewhat. But, there’s no way the pass should have been caught by receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick against Army defenders Chris Carnegie and Hayden Pierce. At the very least, Carnegie and/or Pierce could have interfered with Fitzpatrick and took a 15-yard penalty over a touchdown. But, don’t know if players are coached to play that way.

Army’s “double-eagle flex” defense is predicated on players swarming to the ball. There was little buzz against Temple. Several times, an Army defender had a Temple player slowed and you could count to “four 1,000″ before a teammate was on the spot to provide assistance.

Army’s longest run by a running back was a 13-yard burst by Larry Dixon.  The Black Knights had nine runs of 13 yards or more against Eastern Michigan the previous week. What went wrong with the offense in the first half?  Some of it was play calling. Didn’t like the call on 3rd-and-2 from Temple’s 41 on Army’s opening drive. Trenton Turrentine lost 2 yards, forcing Army to punt. It’s four-down territory. How about dive play to fullback Larry Dixon?

It seems like sophomore quarterback Kelvin White isn’t put into plays where he can be successful when he enters the game. Passing is White’s forte, coach Rich Ellerson says. So, throw the football. White can complete those short first-down passes to Xavier Moss like Angel Santiago did against Eastern Michigan. Down 20-0 with 3:37 left in the second quarter, Army called for White to run an option play left, which turned into a fumble and six points for Temple. Why not a pass?

Army receivers have to catch the football. The Black Knights threw seven times in the first half, four of those passes were dropped.

Been saying this all season but something’s had to change in Army’s return game on both kicks and punts. There has to be a player on Army’s roster that can break a decent return. Julian Crockett averaged just 15 yards on four kick returns against Temple. Scott Williams totaled just 13 yards on five punt returns and dangerously fielded a few on the bounce. Can Xavier Moss return kicks or punts?

 

 

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    Sal Interdonato

    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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