Don’t think my column on the offense’s struggles or fan complaints on message boards were the cause but Army opened its playbook and threw more against Tulane.
The book on playing Tulane’s defense, which clogs the middle against the triple option, is to get the outside or take to the air.
Ahmad Bradshaw’s six completions were the most by an Army quarterback since the team’s opener against Fordham on Sept. 4. Bradshaw completed six passes in that game.
Army successfully completed a throwback pass from slotback Joe Walker to Bradshaw that went for a 36-yard touchdown before it was called back due to a block in the back by wide receiver Jeff Ejekam in the first quarter.
But when Army needed to go back to the option for a critical first-down pickup, the running game failed. Army trailed 28-21 with nine minutes left in the third quarter. The Black Knights had great field position after a 23-yard punt to Tulane’s 37.
Freshman slotback Tyler Campbell picked up 9.5 yards on pitch play to Tulane’s 28 on first down. The Black Knights could not make the three feet on its next three plays.
Some coaches considered 2-and-1s a free down to throw the ball. Maybe, Army should have called a pass instead of hanging off to fullback Aaron Kemper, who was stopped for no gain off left guard. Bradshaw was stuffed two straight times. He was hoping to run option on fourth down but was dropped for a 1-yard loss by nose tackle Corey Redwine, who was unblocked.
Surprised Army didn’t try to double-team the disruptive Redwine more. Watched a few played where a lineman attempted to cut Redwine, who was quick enough to beat the block.
Only one of Army’s 33 carries by running backs (fullbacks/slotbacks) went for 10 yards or more. Christian Drake’s 66-yard run was cut to a 47-yard gain due to a holding penalty on Edgar Poe on Army’s third play from scrimmage.
Saw a first in my nine years of covering Army football, coach Jeff Monken, who led his team onto the field for the second half, jumped the wall separating the turf and stands and headed up into the cadet section in an attempt to fire them up. Monken paced through two sections and headed back down to the field.
Monken wants his team to play on the edge and take chances. But I think Army got too cute on its fake field goal in the first quarter. Too many things have to go right for wide receiver DeAndre Bell to complete his pass to tight end Kelvin White on 4th-and-3 from Tulane’s 10. Tulane defended the play well. Running for the first down or touchdowns wasn’t an option for Bell. The coverage on White was pretty good too. Kicking the 27-yard field goal and going up 10-0 11 minutes into the game is a safer play. Keeping the offense on the field would have been a better opinion than the fake.
Army’s freshmen continue to play well, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Brandon Jackson picked off his team-high third pass. Jackson delivered a big hit on Tulane’s final drive. Freshman linebacker Kenneth Brinson, who also made a nice hit in the first half, returned a blocked punt by fellow freshman Andy Davidson for a touchdown. Linebacker/safety Gibby Gibson has played consistent in limited time.
Monken had a quick trigger Saturday, taking freshman linebacker Calen Holt off long snapping after he sailed a ball over punter Alex Tardieu’s head on the first play of the second quarter. Senior Connor Farley, Army’s long snapper for the first eight games, replaced Holt. Monken also benched senior cornerback and four-year starter Chris Carnegie after he gave up a 90-yard touchdown pass to Teddy Veal with 2:58 left in the first quarter. Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee had missed a wide-open Veal downfield two plays earlier.
Bradshaw fumbled five times, losing one, which Tulane returned for a touchdown in the second quarter. Could the errant toss been avoided? Should Bradshaw, who was being wrapped up by defensive tackle Tanzel Smart, kept the ball and took the loss of yardage?
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