Prediction time: Buffalo

Jeff Monken called Saturday’s road challenge at Buffalo his team’s “biggest game of the year,” on This Week in Army Football Thursday night.

Monken said the game’s importance goes beyond the fact that it’s the next one on Army’s schedule. Army has a bye next week. So, the result of the game, good or bad, will stick with the Black Knights for two weeks.

“I don’t know if we have played a more important game than this one so far this year,” Monken said. “It’s the difference between 3-2 or 2-3. It sounds a lot different and there is a big difference.”

Army, coming off a heartbreaking 28-21 overtime loss at No. 5 Oklahoma, plays its fourth straight undefeated opponent in Buffalo. The Bulls have won seven games in a row and seek their first 5-0 start since 1980.

The Black Knights are a 9-point underdog. The teams have split their last two meetings. Buffalo won 23-20 in overtime at home in 2016. Army prevailed 21-17 at Michie Stadium last season.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 28, Buffalo 24. Army’s recipe for success doesn’t change this week. The offense must consume the clock and keep the Black Knights’ defense fresh against another challenging quarterback. Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman’s game plan has been solid against Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Hawaii’s Cole McDonald and Liberty’s Stephen Buckshot Calvert the last three weeks. Buffalo 6-foot-7 junior Tyree Jackson has the ability to extend plays in the pocket. If Army’s defense gets any sort of pass rush on Jackson and holds up in run game, the Black Knights can be victorious.
Josh Conklin (Sports photographer extraordinaire): Army 24, Buffalo 20

Predictions from across the college football universe

Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): Army +9. Palm picks Army as his upset of the week. Palm says on CBS Sports,  “Army put a serious scare into Oklahoma last week, taking the Sooners to overtime before falling 28-21. Unless you see an offense like Army’s somewhat regularly, they are hard to handle. Even if you keep the score down, its style limits the number of possessions for each team. Buffalo is undefeated and was impressive at Rutgers last week, but were only seven-point victors over each of Temple and Eastern Michigan. I like Army to not just keep it close, but win outright.”

Berry Tramel (The Oklahoman, NewsOK.com columnist): Army 27, Buffalo 24. Tramel says on newsok.com, “Wow. Army goes to Norman, losses 28-21 in overtime and still is an 8.5-point underdog to the Bulls.”

Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Buffalo 30, Army 21. Fiutak says on College Football News, “After coming so dangerously close to pulling off the win over Oklahoma, can Army stop the amazing start for Buffalo? The UB run defense has been terrific, keeping everyone under 200 yards and allowing just 3.5 yards per carry. The Army secondary hasn’t been a plus, and there’s little pass rush to bother Tyree Jackson and throw him off of his game. He can bomb away, and there can be balance, this week it’ll be about controlling the ball, too. Sometimes, the less offensive explosion against Army, the better. Great at getting into the backfield, the UB defensive front will attack the Army ground game throughout, but can it hold up? The Knights were able to rumble for close to 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last three games, but Buffalo can run a little, too. This will be a controlled, strong all-around effort from the underappreciated Bulls. The blowout win over Rutgers was no fluke.”

Bill Connelly (SB Nation): Buffalo 41, Army 24

Mitch Light (Athlon Sports): Buffalo 30, Army 20. Light writes on Athlon Sports web site, “Buffalo is emerging as the team to beat in the MAC. The Bulls are 4–0 overall (with wins at Temple and at Rutgers) and 1–0 in league play (with a quality win over Eastern Michigan). Army almost shocked the college football world Saturday night before falling in overtime at Oklahoma. This is a really good game between two solid Group of 5 teams.”

 

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Defense breakdown: Oklahoma

Linebacker Kenneth Brinson, Cole Christiansen and James Nachtigal, defensive backs Jaylon McClinton, Max Regan and Elijah Riley and nose tackle Ray Wright played all 40 defensive snaps in Army’s 28-21 overtime loss at Oklahoma.

Nachtigal recorded a sack off a delayed blitz for the second straight week.

Senior cornerback Mike Reynolds took over for starter Javhari Bourdeau in the second quarter and played 28 snaps.

Army held Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Oklahoma’s leading receiver, without a catch. Brown was targeted twice.

Turnovers created: 1. Interception (Mike Reynolds, third quarter, first of season, second career)

Third-down defense: Oklahoma converted 1-of-3 chances

Defensive penalties: 1. (Personal foul, James Gibson, 15 yards)

Oklahoma 3-and-outs: 0.

Oklahoma starting field position: Oklahoma 28 (7 regulation drives)

Oklahoma plays of 20 yards or more: 5. Receiving (Lee Morris 38 yards, Grant Calcaterra, 33 yards, Myles Tease 20). Rushing (Kyle Murray 33 yards, Trey Sermon, 22 yards)

Here’s a breakdown: (40 defensive snaps as charted off replay):

*LB Kenneth Brinson (40 snaps): 36th career start
*LB Cole Christiansen (40 plays): 3 tackles, 17th career start
*S James Gibson (40 snaps): 1 tackle, 21st career start
*S Jaylon McClinton (40 snaps): 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 17th career start
*LB James Nachtigal (40 snaps): 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 14th career start
*S Max Regan (40 snaps): 7 tackles, 8th career start
*CB Elijah Riley (40 snaps): 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 20th career start
*NT Ray Wright (40 snaps): 1 tackle, 13th career start
*LB Chandler Ramirez (39 snaps): 1 tackle, 4th  career start
*DE Wunmi Oyetuga (36 snaps): 1 tackle, 15th career start
CB Mike Reynolds (28 snaps): 2 tackles, 1 interception
* CB Javhari Bourdeau (12 snaps): 4th career start
DE Edriece Patterson (6 snaps): 1 tackle
* – starter

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Offense breakdown: Oklahoma

Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins and Army’s starting offensive line of Jaxson Deaton, Bryce Holland, JB Hunter, Peyton Reeder and Austin Schuffert played all 87 offensive snaps in Army’s 28-21 overtime loss at Oklahoma Saturday.

Deaton received the highest blocking grade (84.0) for a guard in Week 4 from Pro Football Focus College. The junior was the first Army player this season named to PFF College’s national team of the week.

The Black Knights had success rushing the football on the perimeter. Army gained 131 yards on 20 carries on running plays to the left and 61 yards on 11 carries on running play to the right.

Junior slotback Kell Walker doubled his rushing total for the season, gaining a season-high 80 yards. Walker, who didn’t have a carry in Hawaii win in the previous game, caught all three of Army’s completions for 40 yards.

“We want to do it (get Wallker the ball) every game,” Army offensive coordinator Brent Davis said. “The week before, it just didn’t work out that way and he got the ball zero times. If you keep working, things tend to work out in your favor. He got the ball 15 times total and made some good plays for us.”

Sophomore slotback Fred Cooper did not receive a carry against Oklahoma. Cooper had a combined 16 carries in Army’s victories over Liberty and Hawaii.

The Black Knights’ 339 rushing yards were the most allowed by Oklahoma since West Virginia’s 388 on Nov. 19, 2016.

Army’s time of possession of 44 minutes and 41 seconds is not a program record but it’s nevertheless impressive against one of the nation’s best teams. The Black Knights possessed the ball for 46 minutes in their 2017 Armed Forces Bowl win over San Diego State. Army is now + 116 in plays ran through four games.

Coach Jeff Monken said when reviewing the film there was no holding on Fred Cooper’s incomplete halfback pass to Kell Walker in overtime.

Monken on the trick play call: “We had been practicing that play for a few weeks. We had been tossing the ball out there and getting on the perimeter quite a bit. He (Walker) was open. He had beaten the guy. The guy picked him up. We had some edge pressure that was unaccounted for and that forced Fred to have to throw it a little bit early.”

Milestones: Senior fullback Darnell Woofolk passed Heisman Trophy winner Felix “Doc” Blanchard on Army’s all-time rushing list. Woolfolk’s 1,671 yards rank 20th in academy history. Senior fullback Andy Davidson’s 1,646 yards are 22nd. Junior slotback Kell Walker has moved into the top 50. Walker’s 1,127 yards rank 47th just ahead of Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins (1,123).

Rushing yards by quarter: First quarter – 76 yards; Second quarter – 107; Third quarter – 83; Fourth quarter – 65; Overtime – 8.

Possessions - 8. Touchdowns – 3. Turnovers- 2. Punts – 2. Three-and-outs – 1 (Opening drive of second half). Drives of seven of more plays – 5. Longest drive – 19 plays, 85 yards, 10 minutes, 47 seconds, third quarter, touchdown (Andy Davidson 3-yard run).

Third-down conversions: 13-of-21. Fourth-down conversions: 4-for-5. Army is 13-for-15 on fourth down this season.

Time of possession: Army 44 minutes, 41 seconds; Oklahoma 15 minutes, 19 seconds.

Average starting field position: Army 23 (on 7 drives in regulation)

Touchdowns
Rushing
Connor Slomka, 1 yard, first quarter (3rd of season, 7th career)
Kelvin Hopkins, 5 yards, second quarter (4th of season/career)
Andy Davidson, 3 yards, third quarter (1st season, 18th career)

20+ yard plays: 1. Kell Walker (23 yards, run)

Negative-yardage plays: 5. (Kelvin Hopkins 3 runs, Jordan Asberry run, Kell Walker run)

Triple-option distribution:  Quarterbacks (Kelvin Hopkins) 25 carries, 102 yards, TD; Fullbacks (Darnell Woolfolk, Andy Davidson, Calen Holt, Connor Slomka, Sandon McCoy) 35 carries, 117 yards, 2 TDs; Slotbacks (Kell Walker, Jordan Asberry) 17 carries, 116 yards

Penalties: 3. False start (Fred Cooper, Cam Harrison); Unnecessary roughness (Calen Holt)

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps (87 plays as charted off replay):

*LG Jaxson Deaton (87 snaps): 9th career start
*C Bryce Holland (87 snaps): 30th career start, 30th straight start
*QB Kelvin Hopkins (87 snaps): 25 carries, 102 yards, TD, 3-for-8 passing, 40 yards, 2 interceptions, 4th career start
*RT JB Hunter (87 snaps): 4th career start
*RG Peyton Reeder (87 snaps): 3rd career start
*LT Austin Schuffert (87 snaps): 5th career start
*SB Kell Walker (82 snaps): 12 carries, 80 yards, 4 targets, 3 catches, 40 yards, 20th career start
*SB Fred Cooper (48 snaps): 2nd career start
*FB Darnell Woolfolk (43 snaps): 21 carries, 71 yards, 15th career start
*WR Cam Harrison (42 snaps): 6th career start
SB Jordan Asberry (39 snaps): 5 carries, 36 yards, 2 targets
WR Glen Coates (39 snaps): 1 carry, 4 yards, 1 target
*Kjetil Cline (35 snaps): 1st career start, 1 target
WR Christian Hayes (33 snaps): 1 target
TE Quinten Parker (23 snaps)
FB Andy Davidson (17 snaps): 5 carries, 20 yards, TD
FB Calen Holt (21 snaps): 5 carries, 16 yards
SB Artice Hobbs (5 snaps):
FB Connor Slomka (5 snaps): 3 carries, 7 yards, TD
FB Sandon McCoy (1 snap): 1 carry, 3 yards
* – starter

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Defense breakdown: Hawaii

Linebackers Kenneth Brinson, Cole Christiansen and James Nachitgal and defensive backs Javhari Bourdeau, James Gibson, Jaylon McClinton, Max Regan and Elijah Riley made all 45 snaps in a 28-21 win over Hawaii.

Army played just four reserves – defensive lineman Jacob Covington, defensive back Cameron Jones, defensive end Edriece Patterson and linebacker Joe Stephenson.

Turnovers created: 0

Third-down defense: Hawaii converted 1-of-7 chances.

Defensive penalties: 1. (Roughing the passer, James Nachtigal, 15 yards)

Hawaii 3-and-outs: 3

Hawaii starting field position: Hawaii 21. The Rainbow Warriors started four of their 10 drives inside their own 16-yard line.

Hawaii plays of 20 yards or more: 5 Receiving (John Ursua 80 yards, TD, Cedric Byrd 50 yards, Devan Stubblefield, 35 yards, Marcus Armstrong-Brown, 21 yards, Jojo Ward, 20 yards).

Here’s a breakdown: (45 defensive snaps as charted off replay):

* CB Javhari Bourdeau (45 snaps): 1 tackle, 3rd career start
*LB Kenneth Brinson (45 snaps): 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 35th career start
*LB Cole Christiansen (45 plays): 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 16th career start
*S James Gibson (45 snaps): 1 tackle, 20th career start
*S Jaylon McClinton (45 snaps): 4 tackles, 16th career start
*LB James Nachtigal (45 snaps): 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 13th career start
*S Max Regan (45 snaps): 1 tackle, 7th career start
*CB Elijah Riley (45 snaps): 3 tackles, 19th career start
*DE Wunmi Oyetuga (39 snaps): 14th career start
*NT Ray Wright (39 snaps):1 tackle, 12th career start
S Cameron Jones (22 snaps): 2 tackles
*LB Chandler Ramirez (16 snaps): 2 tackles, 3rd career start
DL Jacob Covington (9 snaps): 1 tackle
DE Edriece Patterson (9 snaps): 1 tackle
LB Joe Stephenson (1 snap)
* – starter

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Tuesday Takeaways: Buffalo week

The news was positive on the injury front following Saturday’s game at Oklahoma.

Jeff Monken reported no major injures from Army’s overtime thriller.

“(Safety) Max Regan was a little dinged up,” Monken said. “He practiced some. (Safety Jaylon) McClinton was a little banged up but he practiced the whole day. There’s some bumps and bruises but for the most part, we came out it pretty good.”

How Army comes out physically from games against Power Five schools can be concerning. Army lost starting fullback Darnell Woolfolk and starting safety Rhyan England to knee injuries at Ohio State last season.

But, it was Oklahoma, which had a few players come off the field banged up. Not Army.

“I think probably a lot of it is by chance,” Monken said. “Woolfolk got hurt against Ohio State on the opening play. He played the rest of the game but he took that shot right on the knee. He had to have surgery…It was one of those freak things. England hurt his knee so it wasn’t just getting pounded. It was just some things that happened. Fortunately playing Oklahoma Saturday night, we didn’t have those injuries. I supposed those can happen regardless of who you are playing.”

How did Army rush the ball for 339 yards and move the ball against Oklahoma’s defense? Monken pointed to the offensive line’s play.

“I was really proud of our offensive line and how they did go in there and battle,” Monken said. “That comes through maximizing the potential that they have to grow and maximizing their potential as an athlete to play with great fundamentals, technique and effort.

“I thought Oklahoma played really hard and with effort. That’s what made it fun to be out there and battle. They have a great football team and a very talented team but those guys play like a championship team. I watched their offensive line and after plays they are trying to get after guys and chase after guys. That’s the way our guys play and that’s why they were able to slug around and I guess hold their own.”

Senior John Abercrombie replaced sophomore Landon Salyers on extra points Saturday. Abercrombie, a former sprint football kicker, made all four of his extra points. Monken said if Army advanced into field-goal range late in the fourth quarter that he likely would have used Abercrombie. Salyers remained Army’s kickoff specialist.

“He (Abercrombie) had just kicked it better throughout the week,” Monken said. “In pregame warmups, we just felt like he was more accurate and more prepared at that point to be the guy on Saturday.”

Will the kicking competition continue in practice this week?

“There’s a practice battle at every position I hope and certainly at that one,” Monken said.

 

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Quick thoughts: Oklahoma

Army came oh so close to shocking college football Saturday.

The Black Knights, a 31-point underdog, seemed destined to pull off the upset of No. 5 Oklahoma.

James Nachtigal and Army’s defense kept the game tied in the fourth quarter, stuffing Trey Sermon on 4th-and-1 from the 1-yard line. The Black Knights headed to overtime when Oklahoma’s reliable kicker Austin Seibert pushed a 33-yard field goal left as time expired.

The Black Knights didn’t flinch in the national spotlight. They thrived in the environment. Army kept 87,111 at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on the edge of their seats for 60-minutes plus.

Oklahoma would strike quickly in the extra session on Kyler Murray’s 10-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb and escape with 28-21 win. Oklahoma fans finally breathed a sigh of relief when Kelvin Hopkins’ fourth-down pass was intercepted on the game’s final play.

Army turned in one of Army’s best efforts, perhaps its best, in my 12 years on the beat. The Black Knights put college football on notice with their effort.

Jeff Monken’s postgame radio comment earned responses and praise from across the country on social media.

“Our guys don’t flinch,” Monken told sideline reporter Tony Morino. “That’s the toughness that is a part of this program and built into the fabric of the culture that is Army football and the United States Army. I promise you there’s not an American soldier out there that would flinch in the face of adversity either. We have a bunch of soldiers on our team and I’m proud of them.”

Monken said later in his postgame press conference that there was no solace for playing Oklahoma into overtime. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins said the loss hurt after the game. Most college football gurus picked Oklahoma in a blowout. The Black Knights expected to win. One play away from knocking off the nation’s No. 5 team isn’t good enough. Army is still fighting for national respect coming off a 10-win season. This could have been the game that cements Army as a top-25 program moving forward.

The Black Knights’ offensive line of Bryce Holland, Jaxton Deaton, Austin Schuffert, JB Hunter and Peyton Reeder consistently moved the line of scrimmage, allowing Army to finish three trademark drives. Army’s three touchdown drives were 16 plays, 16 plays and 19 plays. How many teams go into Norman and do that?

Army’s offense made an effort to get junior slotback Kell Walker, who didn’t have a carry in a win over Hawaii last week, on the edge with pitches or tosses from Hopkins. Walker was effective, rushing for 80 yards on 12 carries and caught Army’s only three completions for 40 yards. Slotbacks had 33 carries in Army’s first three games. Walker and Jordan Asberry combined for 17 carries against Oklahoma.

Army’s time of possession – 44 minutes and 41 seconds – has got to be near an FBS record. The Black Knights ran 87 plays to Oklahoma’s 40.

For the third straight game, Army didn’t fumble. The Black Knights have gone 224 straight carries without putting a ball on the ground.

Army’s defense held Oklahoma, which entered the game averaging 49 points, scoreless in the second half. Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown didn’t have a reception. Brown, the Sooners’ deep threat, was targeted only once.

While Oklahoma kicker Austin Seibert had the misfortune of the short field goal as time expired, Army was also unlucky when Hopkins’ pass hit off a defender’s helmet and landed in the hands of defensive end Kenneth Mann on 3rd-and-14 from the Sooners 34 with 2:17 left in a tied game.

Surprising call on Army’s 2nd-and-12 from Oklahoma 27 in overtime. Fred Cooper’s pass to fellow slotback Kell Walker fell incomplete. Oklahoma safety Kahlil Haughton appeared to make contact with Walker. Maybe, the official ruled the pass wasn’t catchable.

Absolute shame that the Black Knights’ efforts couldn’t be witnessed by a national television audience. Fox Sports and Oklahoma opted for the game to be televised locally on Fox Sports Oklahoma and to be available on pay per view for $49.99 (Directv price) or higher.

Steve Anderson, my podcast co-host, suggested that Oklahoma didn’t want the game on national television because it wouldn’t get a lot of praise for winning and it didn’t want anyone to see if the Sooners lost the game.

After the alma maters, Oklahoma linebackers coach Tim Kish, a former Army assistant, shook the hand of every player that he could. The Black Knights received a standing ovation from Oklahoma fans as they left the field.

Brian Bosworth, one of Oklahoma’s greats, paid Army the ultimate respect on social media. “If anybody thOUght @ArmyWP_Football was going to be intimidated by @OU_Football or OUr atmosphere take solace in the fact our fighting forces are ready to fight to the end w NO thoughts of giving up!! Great game to witness the tough/discipline of those committed to serve US!!”

 

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Postgame Oklahoma: Jeff Monken, Kelvin Hopkins, Kell Walker, Elijah Riley

Army played Oklahoma, the nation’s No. 5 team, to a 60-minute draw.

Oklahoma, a 31-point favorite, needed overtime to outlast the Black Knights 28-21.

Army coach Jeff Monken’s postgame radio comments draw national respect.

“Our guys don’t flinch,” Monken said. “That’s the toughness that is a part of this program and built into the fabric of the culture that is Army football and that’s West Point and that’s the United States Army. I promise you there’s not an American soldier out there that would flinch in the face of adversity either. We have a bunch of soldiers on our team and I’m proud of them.”

Here are Monken’s radio and press conference comments along with the thoughts of junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, junior slotback Kell Walker and junior cornerback Elijah Riley:

Jeff Monken
Radio interview
Thoughts on his team’s effort

“I’m incredibly proud of our football team. I thought our guys played really, really hard against a great football team. We had a chance to win. Credit Oklahoma. They made the plays that they needed to win the game. Unfortunately, we had some opportunities and we just didn’t get it done. I thought our kids play their hearts out. What do you say, it’s the No. 5 team in the country and we took them to the wire. There’s no solace in that. I’m disappointed. This wasn’t the last game of the year so will come back and play next week.

“I hope that America saw just what we hope to represent, our great soldiers, those men and women that serve, this great academy and the mental toughness that it takes to be in the United States Army. I thought our guys display that mental toughness all night.”

Press conference
Opening statement
“What a football game and congratulations to Oklahoma what a great football team and an unbelievable football program. I read the press release before the game and I marvel at the success that the Oklahoma program has had over decades. I read where they’ve won 11 Big 12 championships in the last 19 years in that same stretch of only lost 10 home games. That’s an incredible statistic to me. To be a part of a football team to come in here tonight and about pull off victory against a great football program, I’m just incredibly proud to be a part of this team. I’m proud of our players.

“It’s just a privilege to be a part of a group of people like that that care so much about each other and have such a commitment to each other. It’s fun to be part of something like that. That’s what makes it even more disappointing to lose because our guys fought so hard and got it out. I’m sure there are very few people that gave our guys a chance to win and we had a chance to win the football game. I’m disappointed that we didn’t. I think Kelvin said it so well, every loss hurts. Every loss is disappointing. I know what it would’ve meant to these guys and it would  have been an awesome victory. But credit Oklahoma. They made some great plays and they have some unbelievable players. Their quarterback Murray is an amazing player. He made some plays on his feet with his arm. We found ourselves out a position a couple times and let him hit some big plays and the big plays really hurt.

“To have a goal line stop like we did on the 1 yard line I don’t know last time that’s happened to an Oklahoma team. Baby it happens more often than I realize. For our guys to make that stop down there is incredible. I have nothing but respect for our guys and pride for the way we played.”

On if he would have gone for 2-point conversion if Army scored in overtime
“We would’ve gone for two. In this environment and really having to come from behind the whole game, we had to play catch-up I come from behind the entire football game. Even there an overtime and that gets harder and harder to make those plays. So we would’ve given it a whirl.”

On the key to slowing down Oklahoma
“Just hold the ball. That’s our philosophy is to try to maintain possession of the ball. We were able to do that and sustain some drivers. Unfortunately, we had a couple times there we had a chance to get some points and we didn’t. We would have liked to at the end of the first half. We were trying to throw the heater out and then step of the balance and get a man’s ball field goal and try to make it 21-17…Unfortunately, we ran out of time. Unfortunately, the second half on the last drive, we held it for about 10 minutes. The first time, we tossed it out there and we got knocked back at guard trying to pull around to get at the second level. We didn’t do a great job on the perimeter and we took a tackle for a loss. We were in a different play to the left on second down and took another tackle for loss and then on third down, we had a timeout and we talked about the protection. They played a defense that they hadn’t played all year and that was really not what we practiced against all week and so we were surprised they came out and that defense. but that’s the defense that our defense runs so we got a lot of reps banked against the 3-4 defense and I think that’s why our guys were able to execute and do that effectively enough, But, they made a couple plays there and we frankly messed up the protection a little bit on the third down where the ball got intercepted. He got hit as he was throwing it should’ve been a lot more solid there.

“I felt like we needed to try to get yardage, we’re at the 35-yard line and that would’ve been a 52 yard field goal. We needed to gain 5 yards. We would have liked to gain 10 yards and have the ball with a shorter field goal. Unfortunately, it got picked off. Our defense the good job stopping them to force overtime and the overtime we just weren’t able to finish.”

On 16-play or longer drives by offense
“I think that’s a byproduct of the offense. People don’t faces offense very often you can prepare for it but but frankly it’s just a bugger sometimes to try to defend. It’s not easy for us and we run the offense all spring and throughout fall camp. It’s not easy for our defense to transition and play when the option teams that is on our schedule. I think our guys were doing a really good job of blocking them upfront and moving their team, which isn’t easy to do they are big inside. We have some good B-backs that run really hard…I thought Brent (Davis) called a great game I thought he had a terrific game plan going in there and then we have to change on the run with the change in the defense. Again it speaks to the resiliency of this group they didn’t flinch. They just went out there and execute against a different defense that we practiced against all week and I thought execute it fairly well against a really good team.”

On what it took for Army’s stand at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter
“A lot will a lot of heart a lot of toughness I am playing really well fundamentally keeping your pads down in your hands where their supposed to be and be in the gap where you’re supposed to be. I was proud of our guys for that goal line stand. It was a great effort.”

On quarterback Kelvin Hopkins play
“The kid just played the fourth college football game in his career against the No. 5  team in the country and he didn’t back down. He played with a lot of poise and a lot of confidence I’m really proud of them. We saw that in the Temple game stepping in there, again he didn’t flinch. I’m really proud of him. He made some really good plays tonight.”

On Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray
“I thought he played a really good game. He didn’t get as many cracks at it as he normally does. I didn’t see the number of players they had, 40 plays on offense. That’s probably way below their average. Seven carries at 71 yards, average 10 yards. That’s pretty good for a running back right there. He’s incredibly skilled. The run that he had down our sideline for a touchdown, that was a great run. The kid is a terrific player and unbelievable athlete. I don’t know if we contained him. We made some plays and he made a bunch of plays.”

On if physical game lead to any injuries
“We probably have some guys nicked up or banged up. It’s a physical football game. When you’re playing a team like that, there’s a lot of conclusions. There’s going to be some bumps and bruises. I don’t know any that were real serious. Our trainers didn’t come to me during the game with anything. But we will see how they’re feeling after the game especially when we get back tomorrow and we really have a chance to assess that. Hopefully, we’re in pretty good shape are going to need to be. We are playing another undefeated team. This will be our fifth game of the year and every team that we played so far has been undefeated. I include Duke in that because they were 0-0 coming in. But, every team was undefeated. Liberty was 1-0. Hawaii was 3-0. Oklahoma was 3-0 and Buffalo is 4-0. We’ve had our challenges against get some really good teams and this is going to be a challenge again. They (Buffalo) beat the stuffings on the Rutgers today. I know they have a good football team and we’re going to have to recover for a great game next week if we’re going to have a chance to win.”

If this is a game that team can build on
“Sure, when you can play toe to toe with the No. 5 team in the country, it tells you if you play as well as you’re capable of playing,  you probably have a chance to beat just about anybody.”

Kelvin Hopkins

On the chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter

“We were just trying to execute. Oklahoma had a great team, a great game plan and was really aggressive. They are the No. 5 team in the country and really good, they just got the best of us. That play we just couldn’t make it happen, so credit to them they executed perfectly on that play. It was the right call against the right play, so there was not really much we could do about it.”
On the loss 
“Every loss is tough. It hurts right now, but our job is to comeback in here tomorrow and find out what we can do better to get another win next and that is what we are going to do. Like I said it hurts but we can’t dwell on it too long. We have a great team in Buffalo next week and we just have to be ready to come back tomorrow, focused and ready to get after it.”
On the play of the offensive line
“The offensive line was great tonight. They were moving the line of scrimmage. They were aggressive. They were flying off the ball. That’s an awesome group of guys. They want the game to be on their shoulders.We would come to the sideline and they were like, ‘What do we want to run.’ They want the ball going right up behind them. They were up for the challenge all week. They knew that Oklahoma was going to be a great team; we all knew that. They really pride themselves on going out there and being tough, coming off fast, and being aggressive and I think that is exactly what they did. Bryce (Holland) is a great leader for that group, Jaxson Deaton, and JB Hunter (IV) they are great guys and were really up for the challenge and accepted it tonight.”
Kell Walker 
On running ball effectively against Oklahoma:
“We had a game plan coming into this game. Oklahoma came out with a 50 defense, which we run a lot in practice. It is our run defense. Our O-Line did a great job blocking up front and our slots, wideout did a good job blocking out on the perimeter. That is how we were able to get outside, and I am just glad that the coaches trust.”
Elijah Riley
On his thought on the game
“Mike Reynolds’ interception coming out in the second half, it was a big momentum turner. Early on we struggled a little bit, but we had a great game plan. The D-line did a great job getting to the quarterback and the secondary did a good job getting in the right spots at the right time. At Oklahoma, they have some good wideouts, they have a great quarterback. They just executed better than we did in some instances. We had some simple errors in coverage, but we just have to correct that going forward.”

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Pregame blog: Oklahoma

Kell Walker, one of Army’s game-breaking threats a year ago, is off to a quiet start in Army’s first three games.

Army coaches stated in the spring and preseason their desire to Walker the ball more frequently this season.

Walker has rushed just 13 times for 40 yards. The slotback did not receive a carry in a 28-21 win over Hawaii last week.

“It’s kind of how the game played out,” Monken said on his This Week in Army Football radio show. “We would like to get Kell Walker the ball because he is very talented runner. Part of our efforts in the spring to put him at quarterback was so that he could carry the ball. We are such a quarterback-centered, run-game offense that we wanted him to be able to carry it. Obviously, when you have a different quarterback in besides Kelvin (Hopkins), it takes a dimension away. Having the threat of a guy throwing the ball as well as run it is important.

“Kell is very much going to be a part of our offense. He did a great job (against Hawaii). If you watch him play, the effort, the toughness, playing physical, he did all of those things in the run game and helped us win the football game, just not with the ball in his hands. …It’s kind of how the game went. I was really proud of Kell for playing as hard as he did and blocking like he did. You’ll see the ball in his hands more.”

Watch if Army looks to get Walker more involved early tonight.

Army wide receiver Christian Hayes had an unique way to describe his rise from two-year scout-team player to a offensive difference maker. “It’s been kind of your prototypical way back in the day you are sticking it for four years and you are grinding kind of story,” Hayes said.

The junior played a combined three snaps in his first two seasons. Hayes played 14 snaps against Hawaii last week and caught two passes for 43 yards.

“It’s weird,” Hayes said. “It’s surreal. You come up in the room and guys like Edgar Poe, Jeff Ejekam and Jermaine Adams are there. Those are the guys you are looking up to and all of sudden, you are a junior and you are supposed to be that guy. So, it’s surreal. Hopefully I can fill their shoes and continue on with that and keep the tradition alive.”

Senior slotback Jordan Asberry and senior safety Max Regan joined Cole Christiansen, Bryce Holland and Darnell Woolfolk as game captains.

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Offense breakdown: Hawaii

Offensive linemen Jaxson Deaton, Bryce Holland and JB Hunter played all 76 offensive snaps in Army’s 28-21 victory over Hawaii Saturday.

Sophomore slotback Fred Cooper made his first career start. Junior guard Mike Johnson, who missed the 2017 season with an ACL injury, started his first game since Nov. 5, 2016 against Air Force.

Army ran nine of its 76 plays from the shotgun and used two tight end on 10 snaps.

Milestones: Senior fullback Darnell Woofolk scored his 26th career rushing touchdowns, tying Heisman Trophy winner Felix “Doc” Blanchard and Larry Dixon for seventh on Army’s all-time list. Senior fullback Andy Davidson moved into 21st place on Army’s all-time rushing list (1,626). Woolfolk jumped up to 24th place (1,600).

Rushing yards by quarter: First quarter – 54 yards; Second quarter – 85; Third quarter – 51; Fourth quarter – 113.

Possessions - 10. Touchdowns – 4. Turnovers- 0. Punts – 3. Three-and-outs – 1 (First drive of game). Drives of seven of more plays – 4. Longest drive – 14 plays, 64 yards, 7 minutes, 28 seconds, first quarter, touchdown (Kelvin Hopkins 1-yard run).

Third-down conversions: 11-of-19. Fourth-down conversions: 3-for-4. Army is 9-for-10 on fourth down this season.

Time of possession: Army 41 minutes, 18 seconds; Hawaii 18 minutes, 42 seconds.

Average starting field position: Army 30

Touchdowns
Rushing

Kelvin Hopkins, 1 yard, firsth quarter (2nd of season, 2nd career)
Kelvin Hopkins, 1 yard, second quarter (3rd of season, 3rd career)
Connor Slomka, 48 yards (longest run of career), (2nd of season, 6th career)
Darnell Woolfolk, 3 yards, fourth quarter (3rd of season, 26th career)
Connor Slomka, 2 yards, fourth quarter (1st of season, 5th career)

20+ yard plays: 6. Calen Holt (63 yards, pass); Connor Slomka (48 yards, run, TD); Glen Coates (29, pass); Christian Hayes (28 yards, pass); Darnell Woolfolk (26 yards, run), Kelvin Hopkins (26 yards, run, 23 yards, run).

Negative-yardage plays: 4. (Kelvin Hopkins 2 runs, 2 kneel downs)

Triple-option distribution:  Quarterbacks (Kelvin Hopkins) 20 carries, 110 yards, 2 TD; Fullbacks (Darnell Woolfolk, Andy Davidson, Calen Holt, Connor Slomka) 38 carries, 167 yards, 2 TDs; Slotbacks (Fred Cooper) 6 carries, 29 yards

Penalties: 4. Illegal block (Bryce Holland, JB Hunter, Jordan Asberry); Holding (Cam Harrison)

Here’s a breakdown of the snaps (76 plays as charted off replay):

*LG Jaxson Deaton (76 snaps): 8th career start
*C Bryce Holland (76 snaps): 29th career start, 29th straight start
*RT JB Hunter (76 snaps): 3rd career start
*QB Kelvin Hopkins (75 snaps): 3rd career start, 20 carries, 110 yards, 2 TD, 6-for-10 passing, 162 yards, first 100-yard rushing game
*LT Austin Schuffert (70 snaps): 4th career start
*SB Kell Walker (59 snaps): 19th career start: 1 target
*TE Quinten Parker (59 snaps): 8th career start
RG Peyton Reeder (48 snaps)
SB Jordan Asberry (42 snaps)
*FB Darnell Woolfolk (35 snaps): 14th career start, 19 carries, 70 yards, TD
*SB Fred Cooper (34 snaps): 1st career start, 6 carries, 29 yards
*RG Mike Johnson (28 snaps): 3rd career start
*WR Cam Harrison (25 snaps): 5th career start
WR Glen Coates (24 snaps): 2 targets, 1 catch, 29 yards
FB Calen Holt (24 snaps): 7 carries, 24 yards, 2 targets, 1 catch, 63 yards
WR Kjetil Cline (20 snaps):
SB Artice Hobbs (17 snaps): 1 target, 1 catch, 15 yards
WR Christian Hayes (14 snaps): 2 targets, 2 catches, 43 yards
TE Zach Saum (10 snaps)
FB Connor Slomka (10 snaps):  9 carries, 62 yards, TD
FB Andy Davidson (7 snaps): 3 carries, 11 yards, 1 target
LT Jeff Panara (6 snaps): First offensive action of season
QB Luke Langdon (1 snap):

* – starter

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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Prediction time: Oklahoma

Army is a 31-point road underdog at No. 5 Oklahoma Saturday night.

The Black Knights are looking to end the academy’s 44-game losing streak to Associated Press ranked teams. Army’s last win over an AP-ranked team was a 14-7 victory over Air Force in 1972.

Oklahoma doesn’t fall at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium often. The Sooners are 108-10 (91.5 winning percentage) at home in the last 19 years. Oklahoma has won 23 of its last 25 non-conference home games. Notre Dame (No. 5, 2012) and Ohio State (No. 3, 2016) are the only non-conference teams to defeat Oklahoma at home during the 19-year stretch.

Another week, another difficult quarterback matchup for Army’s defense. The Black Knights defense under the guidance of coordinator Jay Bateman slowed down Liberty’s Stephen Buckshot Calvert and Hawaii’s Cole McDonald in back-to-back wins. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is a next-level talent. Murray is sixth in the nation in quarterback efficiency (199.9). He’s thrown eight touchdowns against one interception and leads Oklahoma in rushing (169 yards).

The Sooners’ defense is holding opponents to 2.9 yards per carry.

Oklahoma has started off quick in its first three games, outscoring the opposition 52-7 in the first quarter.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Oklahoma 34, Army 17 – This game could turn out to be a lot closer than most believe. If Army is going to be competitive, it must eliminate cut-block and holding penalties that have taken away touchdowns in the last two games. The Black Knights must continue to the trend of no turnovers over its last two games.
Josh Conklin (Freelance photographer): Oklahoma 42, Army 7

Prediction from across the college football universe

Allen Kenney (Athlon Sports): Oklahoma 42, Army 17 – Kenney said on Athlon Sports, “Despite the physical mismatch in this game, it should surprise no one if Army has early success moving the ball against OU’s up-and-down D. The size of the Black Knights on defense will be a different story, though, as they will have to contend with OU’s maulers on the offensive line. Army can run with the Sooners for a quarter or so, but look for OU to pull away before halftime and not look back.”
Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Oklahoma 44, Middletown 20 – Fiutak said on College Football News, “The Oklahoma run defense is pretty good. Best of all for the Sooners in a game like this, they’re amazing at getting into the backfield – they should be able to stop the Army offense before it starts. The Knights will put together a few good scoring drives, but at home, the Oklahoma machine will roll up points in bunches to pull away. The Knights won’t have any sort of an answer.”
David Kenyon (Bleacher Report): Oklahoma 48, Army 14 – Kenyon said on Bleacher Report, “Although the Black Knights limited a rolling Hawaii offense to 362 yards last week, repeating it opposite Oklahoma will be a different story. Quarterback Kyler Murray and the Sooners have too much explosiveness to be silenced in Norman.”
Randy Peterson (Des Moines Register): Oklahoma 42, Army 17 – Peterson said on desmoinesregister.com, “Army will run the ball, and it’ll run it well. The problem is that Oklahoma will pass, and do it better. Kyler Murray is the Real Deal, not so much because he played very well against what is usually a solid Iowa State defense, but because he does everything so well. He’s on some weekly mock Heisman Trophy weekly ballots, and rightly so. Army won’t stop him. Army won’t even slow him.”
Dylan Broady (Fansided): Oklahoma 63, Army 27

For more on Army football, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud @salinterdonato. Started a Facebook page, solely for Army coverage. Here’s the link.

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    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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