October 2, 2011

Back In Business: Army D Comes Up Big Against Tulane

Two weeks ago Army played North Western at home, the Black Knights played hard and came away with a win. End of story right there.

Why do I bring this up? Well, if you remember, I made some pretty strong claims, one of them declaring that "Army Football is back" for good. Out of pure excitement I made that claim, stood by it whole heartedly and still do. I mean after such a big win who could argue against it? The possibilities were endless with the caliber of excellence we were playing at. I remember thinking to myself "Who can stop us now?" Little did I know that the answer to that question would come that following week with a giant slap in the face by a 48-21 loss to Ball State. I felt betrayed. How could our Black Knights play with such brilliance one week and then get pushed over the very next? I had no answer for it and needless to say that flash of greatness was almost forgotten entirely by me going into this week's contest against Tulane. But for some reason…

.... I had hope.

With a 12:00 noon kickoff, it was showtime. Some may not agree, but this was a game where the season on the line and I knew that the fate of today's game was going to fall in the defense's hands. Were they ready to play? Could they deliver after allowing Ball State to have their way with them offensively? These questions and more were about to be answered.

Army won the coin toss and deferred as the defense took the field first. This was their time to make a stand. A statement was going to be made. Literally, three plays and 80 yards later Tulane made a statement loud & clear …and it was one of defeating the Black Knights. It took the Green Wave only 1:06 to score the game's first touchdown. It takes me longer than that to get comfortable in my seat in the press box. Things were already looking rotten at Michie Stadium.

Turning Point

With 8:28 on the clock in the first quarter the defense took the field again, and at this time disappointment was already setting in. But, the "D" delivered a solid three and out. It was obvious that they were determined to go out fighting. To my surprise, the defense made this "three and out" business a habit. In the second quarter, the Brookwood High School (GA) made a statement as defensive tackle A.J. Mackey applied pass pressure on Tulane's quarterback Ryan Griffin and cornerback Josh Jackson was able to pull down the ill advise pass and return it to the Tulane's 13 yard line. It was clear that the defense wasn't going to go out just fighting, they wanted to go out winning. This was the turning point for the defense, this is when they got their fire back. Tulane, unfortunately for them, woke up a sleeping giant.

Can you say game over, because I can. From that point on the Army defense owned Tulane, as they allowed the Green Wave offense only three third down conversions throughout the entire game.

Even though standouts like linebacker Steve Erzinger (5 tackles), safety/linebacker Tyler Dickson (8 tackles), and freshman linebacker Geoffrey Bacon (9 tackles) lead the team in tackles, it wasn't uncommon to see 8 to all 11Army defenders in on a play countless times. It was not unusual to see the inspired play of Whip Linebacker Nate Combs continue to show that he is very dependable open field tackler, who playes with a chip on his shoulder.

In addition to the excellent tackling the defense also put up an impressive 2 interceptions and even more impressive 5 sacks on the afternoon.

Army football is all about the team, not the individual, and that's what was on display today. Everybody on defense made a play and contributed to the stunning 45-6 win over Tulane.

Forget about last week because right now……The Army "D" is back in business!

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