After bemoaning their heartbreaking double overtime loss to Michigan, Army turned its attention to Week 3 opponent, University of Texas - San Antonio. By all accounts, Army was expected to blow UTSA out of the water, and it initially looked like Army was going to do just that. However, after a quick start Army started to falter and allowed UTSA to hang around until late in the second half. It was then that the Black Knights finally put together a handful of drives and held off a last-minute UTSA push for a 31-13 victory.
Army took a 7-0 just 53 seconds into the game, recovered an UTSA fumble and proceeded to tack on another three points off a 40 yard field goal. Things looked good early on for Army’s offense. Having Kelvin Hopkins Jr. out due to an injury didn’t seem like much of an issue with backup QB Jabari Laws breaking off huge yardage plays on the opening two possessions.
OPENING DRIVE TD! @ArmyWP_Football RB Kell Walker finds the end zone early— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 14, 2019
: @ConferenceUSA on NFL Network pic.twitter.com/LlEQs9fzfv
However, as the first half progressed, the Black Knights’ offense stalled out and turned the ball over twice. UTSA made some defensive adjustments to neutralize the Black Knights, and the offense seemed to have no answer for a decent portion of the game.
Luckily, Army came out in the second half with 21 points on three clock-draining drives to rack up 31 points. Jabari Laws was 2-for-2 on passing attempts for 18 yards, and the Black Knights amassed 358 total yards of offense. It was far from a perfect game by the offensive unit, but they found a way to regroup in the second half and pull out another win to improve to 2-1 on the season.
Once again, Army’s defense stepped big time and prevented UTSA from taking advantage of the Black Knights’ offensive struggles. Elijah Riley forced a fumble on the first Roadrunner possession that looked eerily similar to his strip sack last week against Shea Patterson of Michigan.
BOOM!— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 14, 2019
Riley with a huge hit with Loose dialing up the blitz from the right and causes the fumble.
ARMY BALL!#GoArmy pic.twitter.com/6oONZEsOiq
The Army defense had five sacks, and Javhari Bourdeau not only forced a second fumble, but also intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired to seal the 31-13 victory. Army held UTSA to just 260 yards of total offense, with 209 of those yards coming through the air. The Roadrunners averaged just 1.9 yards per carry on 51 rushing yards against Army’s stout defense.
At first glance, Army’s special teams units did just fine against UTSA. No turnovers, perfect PATs, and a 40yd field goal. However, a closer look revealed some minor issues that could’ve been devastating against a more capable team.
Penalties cropped up today with one kickoff going out of bounds and Army’s punt return unit drawing a penalty for running (more like rolling) into the UTSA kicker. Army also allowed a 65 yard kickoff return which gave UTSA great field position on their final drive in the waning minutes of the game. Thanks to the individual effort of Javhari Bourdeau, the Roadrunners failed to put more points on the board.
The other glaring issue was that Army was fooled by yet another fake punt. Michigan faked a punt in order to sustain a critical drive in the first half last week. UTSA pulled the same theatrics today but, luckily for Army, they weren’t able to convert that into points as they fumbled the ball later in the drive. However, it is concerning that Army has allowed two teams to convert fake punts in two consecutive weeks.
Given injuries and some sloppy play, today wasn’t quite the blowout most predicted and were expecting. However, 31-13 is a respectable score, and Army tightened things up late in the game to stay of reach for UTSA. Just as with Rice, a win is a win, and the Black Knights are now 2-1.
Army will need to iron out its mistakes on offense if they intend to post another double-digit win season, retain the CIC trophy, and make another bowl game appearance. The Black Knights return to the friendly confines of Michie Stadium next week to take on FCS opponent, Morgan State. This will be yet another opportunity for Army’s offense to establish themselves and build confidence as they head into some tougher contests later this season.
Honoring the @1stArmoredDiv at UTSA!— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 14, 2019
Iron Soldiers!#GoArmy pic.twitter.com/JeBMXHaV7H
Much like the behemoth tanks of the 1st Armored Division (the unit honored by Army today), Army rolled through San Antonio, took some lumps, but ultimately carried on to victory.