The Black Knights were definitely a team to watch this past season, with 11 wins for the first time in school history and keeping the CiC trophy in New York yet again, among other accomplishments. Not to mention, Jeff Monken was awarded the 2018 George Munger Award for National Collegiate Coach of the Year. It’s safe to say Army football impressed us all. But with a new year, comes a new season and brand new opportunities to build off of last year’s momentum.
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, here are a couple goals I hope Army football takes with them into this upcoming season.
1. Get more eyes-on, watching the game that is.
While I don’t necessarily think that having a deal with CBS Sports is hurting Army football, we don’t see too much of a viewership increase aside from the Army/Navy game and bowl games. This past season the Army/Navy game performed as expected, bringing in over 8 million viewers including streams.
Its challenging to gauge outside of the West Point community who really tunes in to Army football. Though this year, the AAE team did justice in telling everyone why service academy football is for everyone, there is still work to be done.
A few weeks ago, discussion around the AAC’s upcoming new television deal spurred follow-on discussion about what schools are really hurt by their conference limitations. Would a conference jump for Army football bring in the eyes I’m talking bout? Perhaps, but that is a discussion for a different day. For now, let’s just hope the Black Knights fanbase can increase at the same rate as their level of play has.
2. Up the ante (on social media.)
We are living in a generation of #smsports. Pro teams are showing more of their players personalities, we’re seeing clapbacks on the gram’, and just overall, getting a better understanding of how much of a “community” these sports teams are. Service academies are no different in that respect. These cadets are fierce on the field and in the classroom, they’re taught the value of service from day one, but the rest of the NCAA and really the country are still slow on understanding the true culture of service academies.
Don’t get me wrong, in the Army community, we know West Point, but this team can still show a little more to teach the rest of the country who the men behind Army football really are.
3. Continue to pass the ball, because well, it’s working.
Let’s face it, utilizing the triple-option isn’t a favorite of Division I teams. In fact, some might even call it antiquated, but it’s the staple in the service academy playbook and Army runs it well. But what many might have been surprised with during this season is the passing range of this team that came along with the emergence of Kelvin Hopkins Jr. at quarterback.
Hopkins finished the 2018 season as the first Army quarterback ever with 1000 yards passing and 1000 yards rushing in the same season. This was a major shift from a team that only had 361 yards passing total for the entire season in 2017 with just two passing touchdowns. With 1,026 passing yards and six passing TDs this season for Hopkins and an offensive line (A.K.A “The Mob”) who had a hand in the impressive 592 yards of total offense in the 70-14 Armed Forces Bowl demolition against Houston, we shouldn’t be afraid to say that Army can continue to develop into more of a passing team. This is not to say they should get away from the bread and butter that makes the offense churn. The triple option alIows this team to do what they do best: chewing up the clock, being the best time of possession team in the country and holding on to the ball. So in the words of some famous philosopher, “Why fix it, if it’s not broken?” This isn’t about fixing it, as the third down and fourth down conversion rates and efficiency on offense this season shows that it’s working just fine. This is just continuing to build on Hopkins’ skill set and what was a much-improved passing game in 2018.