Jay Bateman, defensive coordinator for the Army Football team, has been named one of five finalists for the prestigious Broyles Award, given to the best assistant coach in college football each season.
This is the first time a coach from a service academy football team has been a finalist for the award, which started in 1996 and is named after legendary Arkansas coach and athletic director Frank Broyles.
Joining Bateman as finalists are Alabama OC Michael Locksley, Clemson OC Jeff Scott, Mississippi State DC Bob Shoop, and Notre Dame OC Chip Long.
Bateman is the leader of a defense that has helped Army to a 9-2 record, #23 ranking in the AP poll, and #25 ranking in the Coaches poll. Army will be looking to win 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever when they take on Navy in two weeks during America’s Game and the defense has certainly been a huge part of the resurgence for the Black Knights under Jeff Monken.
This is Bateman’s fifth year guiding the Army defense. In that time, the Black Knights have improved from 104th in points per game in 2014 all the way to 16th where they currently sit this season, giving up just 18.7 a contest on the year.
His yards per game has improved all the way to 11th at 301 yds/gm this season from 92nd his first season when they gave up over 430 yards per contest.
Army is also 28th in pass yards per game, holding opponents under 200 yards a game this season and is 12th in rush yards allowed at just 106 per game. That’s pretty good balance if you ask me.
So, what has made this defense so good and balanced? Go with me on a stat dive here...
Army is dead last in the country in tackles made on the season with 531. Yes, they are 130th in the country in tackles and the next closest team above them at 129 is Southern Miss with 607. That’s almost 80 fewer tackles than #129. For perspective New Mexico State has 1100 tackles on the season.
Yup, NMSU has more tackles between them and Army than Army has tackles on the entire season.
Army is also tied for dead last in the country in interceptions with only three and is #118 in sacks with 15.
Those stats are crazy because they show just how good both sides of the ball have been for Army that they could be as high in total defensive categories as they are with so few “big” plays.
The reason, I believe, for them being at the bottom of those categories is simply because they are getting off the field and their offense is staying on the field.
Army’s defense is third in the country in opponent’s third down conversion percentage. They have only allowed their opponent to convert on .255 of their chances on third down. They have allowed just 28 first down conversions on third down out of 103 on the season. Both of those numbers are astounding. They are keeping opponents below 10 third downs that they even attempt per game and only allowing them to convert an average of 2.5 of those each time out.
When you couple that with the fact that the offense is first in third down and fourth down conversion percentage as well as time of possession, you have a recipe for the crazy defensive season that Army is having.
The defense has played a significant role in Army keeping the ball for 39 minutes a game because they are getting off the field and allowing Army’s time consuming offense to do its job.
Jay Bateman certainly deserves credit for leading a unit that is near the top in rush, pass, and total defense and is third in the nation in stopping opponents on third down.
Hopefully, he can fend off some seriously tough competition and bring home the Broyles Award for the first time in not just Army history, but service academy football history as well!