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Army-Bucknell game 10/17/15

Posted by John Reed on

Being a masochist, I put the Bucknell at Army game on TV this morning. I have not studied it using replay or any of that. In recent decades Army has been so “hapless” that it seems like piling on to criticize the Army players further.

But what you expect in an Army game these days is lack of talent, because of Army being the only football team in America whose players must fight in wars as ground pounders after graduation.

In a football game, lack of talent manifests itself as slower players unable to catch the opponent, small linemen getting outmuscled by bigger linemen, inaccurate passes, failure to make difficult catches, etc.

Bad coaching on the other hand, manifests itself as mental mistakes, poor decision-making, fumbles, dropped passes, wide-open opposing receivers, blocked kicks, and the like. Well-coached teams with zilch for talent do not make those mistakes.

Common sense

I started coaching my son’s 8- to 11-year old team. Initially, we had the poor-coaching stuff, but we virtually eliminated it in a year or so of learning how to coach. For example, we would go several games without a single penalty. How? Always going on one is one way. If that inspired you to think that gave an advantage to the defense, you’re nuts. I discuss that in my Warp-speed no-huddle blog (…/61364163-turbo-charge-any-…).

We tried a motion offense like Army does, but we got too many motion penalties so we stopped using the motion.

It doesn’t take a genius to eliminate stupidity. Just common sense.

Stupid penalties and decisions

Anyway, Army is a poorly coached team. They lead the nation in fumbles lost. They get stupid penalties. They threw two interceptions in the first half of this game. A punt returner touched a rolling punt and the other team got it. Apparently he had screwed up the previous punt before I turned the game on according to the announcers. The QB makes bad decisions. Army’s option is so smothered at times that it is obvious they should have thrown a pass instead because if there are that many defenders on the QB and pitchback, they do not have enough to defend the pass on the same play.

Coaches need to eliminate these problem either by coaching the players better or by replacing hopeless players with those who will at least listen to the coaches. Smaller and slower does not cause false-start penalties.

Bucknell let two field goals get blocked

Bucknell also stinks in this game. Two blocked kicks. That is pure unadulterated coaching incompetence. They also get lots of stupid penalties.

I do not mean to suggest that the Army coaches have an easy task at West Point. It is clearly a turnaround situation where past failure breeds difficult recruiting which begets future failure and so on. But there is no excuse for this many coaching-related mistakes in games.

Quadruple option?

One technical suggestion: Army often runs the triple option. They should try the quadruple option, that is, have a receiver a short distance in front of the option side so the QB can shoot him a two-handed push-pass—which would be a forward pass. Bucknell seems to be almost double-teaming the QB on the run some plays. They only have 11 guys on defense. Somebody’s got to be open if they have a guy on the dive, a guy on the pitch and two guys on the QB.

Corps-has section: The Cadets were wearing zippered jackets and white hats. We had such a jacket. Ours was gray. But we could only wear it on weekdays for going to class and meals and never in the company of non-cadets or military personnel who were not stationed at West Point.

The white hat was only worn with the all-white summer uniform and on graduation day. And certainly not on October 17th. But I have no problem with that. It’s a good-looking hat and we did not like having to buy a hat we rarely wore.


But wearing that casual jacket in public on national TV!? Unthinkable back when men were men! We wore dress gray on Homecoming—the classic gray tunic with the high black collar and a black stripe down the middle of the front.

West Point has lately done a lot of talking about “branding.” Apparently they do not understand the concept. National TV is a chance to show the cadets in their distinctive West Point-only uniforms. And instead they dress them, except for the hats, like civilian college kids going to the supermarket for a quart of milk. This is the same sort of stupidity West Point uses when they hire coaches.

‘FBS’ versus FCS

Continuing to watch the game, Army tied it up in the third quarter with a kicked PAT. First, Bucknell is an FCS level team; Army, FBS, it says here. These used to be call I-AA and I-A respectively. In other words, Bucknell is not in the same league as Army—literally.

Secondly, I can’t say the decision to go for one was wrong, but given the anemic offense, I probably would have used a fake FG to try to get two points and take the lead. I cannot say for sure I would have succeeded, but I think a fake FG has a better chance of winning this game than tying it up and having to score another FG or TD before game end the way this game has gone.

Great catch

With 4:44 left in the game, Army threw a bomb that fell short, but the Army receiver, a tall skinny black guy with long arm went up and extended his arms back over the helmet of the white Bucknell cornerback caught it and ran it into the end zone for the win. Maybe that white cornerback will end up in the Hall of Fame of White College Skill Players Who Are Not QBs like my son Dan, the Ivy League tailback. That Hall of Fame of White… is, of course, a subsidiary of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

The first play after the game-winning TD was a pick by Army—might have been defensive pass interference.

Congrats to Army for the two key plays then managing to run out the clock.

The Bucknell coach is a clock idiot. He had one time out left and did not use it until :12 left in the game.

Turbo charge any offense with the warp-speed, no-huddle tempo

Later in the day, I watched the USC-ND game. What a contrast. I saw one dropped pass. The only penalties I remember were defensive pass interference the picks were great plays by the defense not dumb passes. I saw no stupidity by the coaches or players with the possible exception of USC running a lot of short-yardage plays in the last couple of minutes when they needed two scores to win. They seemed to think turning the ball over was more important than taking a shot at the end zone.

But the USC game had talent on the field and among the coaches. The Army-Bucknell game was an embarrassment to college football.

Ohio State threw a successful jump pass. That’s an old single-wing play I ran a few times as a coach—once successfully. That was fun to watch.

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