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Service Academy Football Press Conference Recap: Jeff Monken talks cut block rule

After Week One of the college football season, we take a look at what each service academy head coach had to say about their respective teams’ performances and their upcoming Week Two opponents.

NCAA Football: Army at Duke Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Many coaches would agree that teams make their biggest improvements on the season between Weeks 1 and 2. Here are the areas that each coach wants to improve upon and what they think about their next week’s opponent.

Air Force

NCAA Football: Stony Brook at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons opened up their season at home with a 38-0 victory against the Stony Brook Seawolves. Tuesday, Coach Troy Calhoun met with the media to discuss their Week 1 game.

When asked about the things he liked from the first Saturday of the season, Coach Calhoun commented on the general characteristics of his team. He highlighted the team’s focus, preparation, and eagerness to play.

Coach Calhoun also pointed towards areas where the team struggled and would like to see the team improve upon going forward into the season. On defense, Calhoun emphasized the importance of being better at tackling and focusing on the fundamentals. Additionally, he acknowledged the team’s poor job masking coverages, a task generally delegated to the defensive coordinator; Calhoun has still not specified who the defensive coordinator is for the Falcons this season. On offense, Coach Calhoun briefly mentioned the two fumbles despite the reality that Air Force football success depends heavily on limiting turnovers.

As for next week’s game against Florida Atlantic, Coach Calhoun had this to say about the 2017 FAU team: “Ever since about the second week of October... There wasn’t a hotter team in football”. Calhoun’s words demonstrated great respect for the talent and depth of the Lane Kiffin led Owls. Additionally, he compared FAU running back Devin Singletary, who received some preseason Heisman buzz, to Marshall Faulk, which is a great compliment for the future opponent.


NCAA Football: Army at Duke Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

In the interview immediately after the Army Black Knights’ 34-14 loss to Duke, Coach Jeff Monken immediately claimed responsibility. Monken said of his own team, “We looked like a very poorly coached, very poorly prepared football team...I’ve got to do a better job with our team”. Army had two fumbles in the first half, and had multiple other occasions where the ball came loose but did not result in turnovers.

Tuesday, September 4th, Coach Monken met with the media and reiterated his intent to prepare his team better for their game against Liberty. It is obvious that preparation is what Monken feels most determines his team’s chances to win. Furthermore, Coach Monken recognized Liberty’s football program and their successful transition to Division 1.

Additionally, Coach Monken addressed questions regarding the new cut block rule in college football and how it affected Army in their first game. For context, the new rule requires cut blocks to be within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Another aspect to the new rule limits cut blocks to be done, only by offensive lineman within the tackle box, if the block is coming at the side of the defensive player, vice the front. Here’s what Coach Monken had to say:

There’s a lot of people out there, I think trying to get rid of the blocking below the waist because they want to turn it into a big man’s game. And frankly I don’t think they want to face this offense I think they’d like to... Eliminate this offense all together.

You can hear the frustration in Coach Monken’s voice with the complaints of other coaches about the way smaller-sized teams block. One coach who has made these complaints publicly, and on multiple occasions, is Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. Notre Dame plays Navy every year and, in the past, has played two service academies in the same season. Often after those games, Coach Kelly shares his thoughts, and how he fears for his players’ safety when it comes to cut blocks.


NCAA Football: Navy at Hawaii Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

The Navy Midshipmen opened up the season with a loss at Hawaii, 59-41. Navy got off to a slow start before picking it up on offense. However, the Navy defense was never really able to slow down Cole McDonald and the Rainbow Warriors’ offense. Coach Ken Niumatalolo called the loss “disappointing”. He described Hawaii as a “buzz saw” and recognized the talented offense of Nick Rolovich’s squad.

As for their game in Week 2, Coach Niumatalolo says he thinks that Memphis is a very good team all around with a graduate transfer quarterback, Brady White, who was able to adjust to a new system without too many issues. He also acknowledged that it was fair comment to claim Memphis as the favorite to win the AAC West, which is the same division Navy belongs to.

Coach Niumatalolo was optimistic about his team’s chances this weekend, however, because of the fact that the game against the Memphis Tigers will be played at home in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy is a tough team to beat at home, regardless of the opponent. In the Niumatalolo era, the Mids are 43-11 at home, including an astounding 28-5 over the last five seasons. However, the Navy secondary will have to improve dramatically in order to compete with Memphis on Saturday afternoon.