On October 21st, 2000 I attended my first Army football game at Michie Stadium. I was six years old, and it was my Dad’s 10-year West Point class reunion. I vividly remember my Mom bringing me out of the stadium at halftime because I was distraught that Army was losing 14-7. Fortunately, the Black Knights came back to win, 21-17.
Fast forward to yesterday, and things did not end so well for Army. The visiting Green Wave snapped Army’s 15-game home win streak at Michie Stadium and have made the Black Knights’ hopes for a third straight 10+ win season much more difficult. While a fairly even match-up for most of the game, Tulane’s success against Army’s defense as well as their ability to stuff a couple of Army 2-point conversions ultimately spelled the difference.
Army’s offense started off the game with an opening touchdown drive, and seemed to be firing on all cylinders early on in the game. Unfortunately for the Black Knights, they were unable to take advantage of several three-and-out opportunities forced by their defense.
One positive step for the Army offense was the lack of turnovers - Army didn’t fumble against Tulane, and that fact likely helped keep the score as close as it was. The frustrating aspect of Army’s offense in this particular game is that some play-calling seemed counterintuitive and not effective given the situations that began to play out on the field.
In certain instances, the Black Knights would find great success on fullback dive plays, only to then attempt some edge rushes for negative yardage in the very next couple of plays. Army also attempted an uncharacteristically high number of passes which forced them to be behind the chains on several possessions.
Army’s offense showed flashes of the well-oiled machine of 2018 that Army fans have come to expect, but in the end there were too many missed assignments and opportunities to put away a talented Tulane team.
Army’s defense also struggled against the Green Wave’s talented offense. There were a few glimmers of the vaunted Army defense that held Michigan to just 14 points in regulation. On Tulane’s first drive, an errant snap was recovered by the Black Knights to set up their first touchdown.
In the closing minutes of the game, Army’s defense also forced another fumble and returned it for a touchdown to keep hopes of another Michie miracle alive. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t convert on two separate 2-point conversions to close the gap. The defense also failed to keep consistent pressure on Tulane quarterback McMillan, who was able to complete a large percentage of his passes for big gains.
The Army defense has seemed to be a strength of the team this season, but weren’t able to keep up with Tulane’s offense.
Army special teams was reliable as can be be against the Green Wave. In fact, the Black Knights actually turned the tables (or tried to at least). Army has been the victim of two fake punts so far this season, and decided to try their hand at it. The Black Knights did successfully pull off the fake punt; however, a holding call nullified the play, forcing them to punt for real.
Army also attempted, and very nearly recovered, an onside kick in the waning minutes of the game in an attempt to pull off some last-second theatrics. Everything needs to work out perfectly for miracles to happen, and unfortunately, it wasn’t Army’s day today.
The Black Knights are now 3-2 on the season, and head to Western Kentucky next weekend to take on the Hilltoppers.