November 18, 2012

GBK: Sunday's Notebook

After two solid back to back defensive efforts against Air Force and Rutgers, there was a high level of optimism going into Saturday's contest versus the Owls of Temple.
However, no one could project the offensive dominance that the Army bashers from Philadelphia, Pa. would have over the Black Knights.

Temple's senior tailback Montel Harris spoiled Army's senior day in the last home game of the season for the Black Knights as he rushed for a school record 355 yards, and scoring a record setting 7 TD's.

That also translated to making its way into the Army football record books, because Harris' scores were the most touchdowns ever registered at Michie Stadium. Five was the previous mark by a single player and Harris shattered it. The year 2010 marked the last time Temple has ever had a running back who rushed for 200 yards and it was set by fellow running back Matt Brown and you guessed it ... against Army. Harris was also flirting with the NCAA football record for most rushing yards in a game set by LaDainian Tomlinson with 407 rushing yards. Had they not rested Harris in the last eight minutes of the game, the record might have been broken.

Both offenses were similar in that they run dominated the game, and surprisingly Army took an edge in the passing game on Saturday. But that didn't matter because of Temple's superior run game saw their OL open up gaping holes for their assortment of running backs to operate behind. Harris wasn't the only one who scored though. Brown sparked the first quarter after a torching 36 yard TD run, barely splitting two defenders in the red zone. Brown later left the game with an apparent hamstring injury, but that didn't matter as Harris carried the ball 36 times.

Army's defense looked outmatched in size and speed - in multiple occasions, Harris had the time to dance near the line of scrimmage and he was always given enough space to look for an opening. Once he hit the second level of the Black Knights' "D", it was lights out, as he appeared to be a blur to the secondary. A huge problem for the Black Knights was their tackling.

When Harris would break the first tackle, he is tough to bring down in the open field by one single defender. However, the second and third missed tackles are inexcusable especially when at times Harris would immediately slowed down after absorbing initial contact, making him an easier target to take down. But Army's poor technique as noted on a few occasion with cornerback Chris Carnegie and his high tackling, allowed for Harris to add on an addition 10-15 yards ... but it was Carnegie alone, but the "D" overall.

The personnel in Army's 3-4 defensive alignment changed up against Temple. Out of the starting rotation was freshman T.J. Atimalala at defensive tackle as Richard Glover moved back to his starting DT spot. Then you had sophomore James Kelly started at defensive end, as he stepped in for Holt Zalneraitis.

In addition to Kelly at the whip DE spot, upfront Army started with Zach Watts at the quick defensive end position. While Glover and Bobby Kough maintained the tackles spots and Nate Combs at the Bandit position.

Although the young Atimalala is coming along, the staff should not have to rely upon him to contribute this early and often. The way it stands on the front line, Kough is the only one of the group that has consistently demonstrated that he can compete at this level. Glover on the other hand is just so small, although he has ability ... it is limited. While on the other hand, Mike Ugenyi has become invisible.

After a two week break, the Black Knights will certainly need to be ready to play in the winner-take-all game against Navy at Lincoln Financial Center on Dec. 8th. A win against Navy would break it's ten game losing streak to them and earn them the commander in chief's trophy in front of Army fans who are hungry for a win.

Senior Josh Jackson commented: "As seniors, this is where your character is tested. We've been tested this whole season, but true character and true leadership is how you overcome both good and bad situations. At the end of the day, we get another chance and we'll get our team together and get ready for the showdown (versus Navy)."

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