This past Friday afternoon, I was on the phone with Dean Taylor, USMA Class of 1981, who served as an Army doctor for 20 years and was the Army football team's doctor in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Taylor still follows the fortunes of his alma mater's football and hockey teams (he played hockey at West Point) closely. "Should be a big day for the cannon tomorrow," Taylor said, referencing Saturday's game against Abilene Christian, the first of three Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams Army will face in October.
As it turned out, Taylor knew from whence he spoke. The cannon got a lot of work from the beginning of the day until the end Saturday afternoon as the Black Knights raised their record to 3-1 with a comfortable 55-23 victory against the Wildcats, who are now 0-2.
And yet, as Coach Jeff Monken put it at game's end: “Frankly, I think there are ways for us to play better. We were 3-1 a year ago.”
Coaches are paid to never be satisfied, especially in early October. Monken left the last sentence un-finished, but his point was that records can be deceiving. Injuries were a factor last fall, but no one on post was satisfied with the final record of 5-8 that ended on as down a note as you can find, a 30-7 loss to Navy after three straight wins over the Mids.
A cursory look at the numbers Saturday would lead one to think Monken was just doing a coach-speak thing after a 32 point victory that was never in any serious doubt. It was 23-0 in the second quarter; 31-3 early in the third and the closest ACU got after that was 41-24.
Army rushed for 441 yards and had 493 yards in all—including the team's first touchdown pass of the season. ACU rushed for a total of 86 yards, 55 net after sacks of quarterback Peyton Mansell were factored into the total. One thing that seems certain about defensive coordinator Nate Woody's defense is that it can stop the run. Of course, the real—and most important tests—will come against Air Force next month and against Navy in December.
But Monken's concerns were genuine and legitimate. Read more.