Wish I could have been on Army’s 11-hour or so flight from Hawaii back to West Point Sunday.
Army’s second-half comeback was a little bit of a surprise and a somewhat encouraging sign but another loss is another loss.
Four losses in a row now and coach Rich Ellerson was still beating the same drum about playing 60 minutes, not one half.
In Army five road losses, the Black Knights have been outscored 133-55 in the first half including 28-7 at Hawaii.
Army had three weeks to prepare for Hawaii. Three weeks! Three weeks of quarterback Angel Santiago working with new starting fullback Matt Giachinta. And what happens on Army’s fourth play of the game? A lost mesh fumble between Santiago and Giachinta.
It seemed like Hawaii’s defensive coaches studied Army’s sideline signs. On multiple plays in the first half, Hawaii’s defensive line and linebackers were in the backfield as the ball was snapped. Santiago and Army’s running backs didn’t have a chance. Maybe, Hawaii picked up on Army’s blocking schemes or something but it was ugly. Hawaii’s three-touchdown lead and defensive push took Army out of its element on offense and forced Santiago to throw the ball more. Don’t blame Santiago’s 3-for-10 first-half passing completely on the junior quarterback. Army coaches needed to make in-game adjustments to correct its blocking problems and try run its offense.
Still don’t get coach Ellerson’s obsession with going for it on 4th-and-short from Army’s side of the field. It didn’t work against Western Kentucky and it failed again in the first half against Hawaii. Trailing 14-0 with 5:35 left in the first quarter, punt the ball. I can only guess part of Ellerson’s thinking was he didn’t want his defense right back on the field. Army caught a break when cornerback Chris Carnegie picked off Hawaii in the end zone following the failed fourth-down conversion.
Army’s offense seemed to play a different speed, maybe three or four gears faster, with sophomore quarterback A.J. Schurr in the second half. Schurr was poised and in control. He completed a good deep ball to Xavier Moss and a precise pass to Terry Baggett on a 4th-and-long late in the fourth quarter. Schurr was a little beat up after the game but if he’s healthy and he should be with a bye this week, Schurr should make his first start against Navy on Dec. 14.
I’ve said this the previous three games that senior rover Thomas Holloway sat out due to injury but Army’s defense sure missed its captain. Holloway, the team’s best tackler not just in number but in technique, would have helped against Hawaii’s two-back attack of Joey Iosefa and Steve Lakalaka. Simply put Iosefa and Lakalaka were hard-running back and arm tackles weren’t going to bring them down.
Freshman linebacker Andrew King made two big special teams, recovering an onside kick and making a tackle on a kickoff. King could be a player to watch at middle linebacker in the spring.
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