Quick thoughts: Penn State

Army could have and probably should have upset Penn State in Happy Valley Saturday.

Can argue Army, especially on the defensive side of ball, outplayed Penn State for a good part of the game.

The Black Knights left State College with another hard lessons in figuring out how to win games late.

Army continues to play collectively as hard as I’ve seen a West Point team play. The offensive and defensive line did more than hold their own against a bigger Penn State.

But, Army played one of its sloppiest games on offense. Hard to believe that Army still had a chance to win with less than two minutes left, considering its seven fumbles.

Only two of those fumbles were forced by Penn State. The remaining five were self-inflected.

Army’s three lost fumbles were at Army’s 42, Penn State’s 43 and Army’s 41, wasting field position.

The Black Knights could have easily rushed for more than 300 yards against Penn State, who entered the game 14th against the run, with better ball security.

It took Army a half but it picked up chunks of yards up the middle, running at Penn State’s stud defensive tackles Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson.

Thought Army would have called a timeout before its final play – the 4th-and-5 from Penn State 43. Army had all three of its timeouts left. The play would have worked, coach Jeff Monken said, if quarterback A.J. Schurr would have hung in the pocket instead of taking the sack.

Schurr, who was officially credited with four fumbles (two lost), had to take the loss the hardest among Army players. He showed a lot of toughness and fight overcoming the fumbles and putting Army in position for the upset. Wasn’t certain that Schurr would return after hurting his shoulder late in the first half.

Thought Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman called a good game. He dialed up a cornerback blitz by Brandon Jackson that completely caught Penn State off guard.

Penn State had 11 runs of two yards or less. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg resorted to throwing short passes most of the game.

Junior defensive end Eddy Ruzga provided a spark with his first sack and another tackle for a loss.

In all, defense played good enough to win and the offense couldn’t overcome its mistakes.

Army’s quest for a program-changing win continues.

How different would this week be if Army was coming off a win heading into a game against a better Duke team Saturday?

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