Army showed up to Atlanta as a well-oiled machine on Saturday and started their first contest of the season with a fumble recovery and a touchdown, setting the stage for a 43-10 victory over Georgia State.
Although the Black Knights are coming off 9-3 campaign, there were certainly some uncertainties for their first meeting against the Panthers, but a knockout performance on both sides of the ball may have answered some big questions.
Let’s get into the major takeaways from Army’s season opener:
Set the tone early
Georgia State started the game determined to rack up some short passes, but a fumble by quarterback Dustin Coates set the team back when Army’s Arik Smith recovered the ball at the Panthers’ 40-yard-line. Army quarterback Tyhier Tyler then quickly went to work on a 40-play drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown thanks to sophomore running back Riley Tyson. Tyler would be the first of four Army quarterbacks to see action.
The Panthers struggled to respond after their first quarter mistake and suffered a series of incomplete passes and two holding penalties before being forced to punt.
Soon enough, Tyler was at it again, connecting with Sean Eckert for a 26-yard pass to set Army up for another TD. This time, it was senior A.J. Howard, marching it four yards into the end-zone.
Ending the first quarter with a 14-0 advantage was key for this Army team, as it prevented Georgia State from getting into a consistent receiving rhythm. Now, to the Panthers' credit, they were down four players due to COVID-19 protocols, including cornerback Quavian White, and receivers Ja’Cyais Credle and Sam Pinckney, who was the fourth-ranked wide receiver in the Sun Belt last year.
But nonetheless, Army established dominance within the first 10 minutes of the game and put up points on four of its five drives in the first half — and Georgia State failed to catch up.
Okay, so, no, Army didn’t totally abandon their usual playbook. Running the ball is expected, but it’s not lost on anyone that their slew of quarterbacks made a handful of gutsy pass plays to the surprise of their opponent (and probably most people watching). Tyler, Anderson and Jemel Jones passed for 40, 32, and 26 yards, respectively, with two touchdowns.
Shortly after the first quarter, Tyler was out on the sidelines for a lower ankle sprain, leaving Anderson to follow through for most of the game, much of his plays the textbook strong, consistent dives that have made Army effective under center for years. Six different players scored touchdowns during the afternoon.
What’s Next: Western Kentucky
Where: Michie Stadium, West Point
Watch: CBS Sports Network
When: Saturday, September 11 at 11:30 am EST