Blog Entry

Bowl Grades: Armed Forces Bowl

Posted on: December 30, 2010 10:06 pm
 

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Army jumped out to a big first half lead and held on to stun the heavily favored SMU by the score of 16-14.

Army

Offense: There usually isn't much pride to be taken in scoring 16 points in an entire game, and it usually adds up to a loss to boot. But even that would be an overestimation of Army's production today; one of the Black Knights' scores came on a fumble return, so the offense really only managed nine points. Further, QB Trent Steelman struggled with the SMU defense: in the second half, Army never even managed to get into field goal range until the last clinching drive. Things really could have gone south for Army today. Grade: D

Defense: Those things did not, in fact, go south for Army today because the defense was so effective in the first half. In addition to the fumble returned for a touchdown, Army also came up with two interceptions in the first half (neither of which it was able to turn into points, mind you, but that's not the defense's fault). In the second half, Army's defense seemed to be running out of gas, allowing two long touchdown drives and another drive to field goal range. That field goal was missed, but again, not necessarily on the defense. Still, three first-half takeaways put Army in charge, and that's nothing to take lightly. Grade: B-

Coaching: Here, Rich Ellerson deserves a great deal of credit; the Black Knights were much more prepared for today's game and took the fight to SMU early. Then late in the game, with the Army offense floundering and SMU desperately needing a stop, Ellerson made two brilliant third-down calls: one a play action QB sweep on 3rd and 9, and an especially gutsy play action throw to the tight end to seal the game with 1:14 left -- only Steelman's second completion of the game. The bottom line is this: Army played four quarters, and SMU didn't. Grade: A

Southern Methodist

Offense: SMU QB Kyle Padron threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, and the Mustang offense gained over 400 yards in total. When their backs were up against the wall, the Mustangs responded well, gaining 198 yards on their three drives of the second half. But thanks to Army's time-intensive ground attack, all SMU got in that second half was three drives, so all Army needed was one stop -- which it got late. The stop itself was something of a surprise, considering how well the Mustang offense was connecting through the air and grinding on the ground, but it still happened. If only Padron hadn't given the ball away three times in the first half. Grade: B-

Defense: The SMU defense did its job, for the most part; Army's offense gathered 16 first downs but only 221 total yards, and it had just two scoring drives on the day. The Mustang defense didn't force any turnovers, though, which meant SMU was never in a short-field situation; even after forcing four punts, SMU's average starting field position was its own 24-yard line. Small nit to pick with a defense that gave up nine points, but an important note when one team outgains the other by almost 200 yards and loses by two points. Grade: B+

Coaching: It's easy to understand why the Mustangs might not have been thrilled about this bowl assignment, since they had to play it at their home stadium in front of a generally disinterested crowd. There are things football players expect out of a bowl experience, and staying home isn't one of them. That said, responsibility for getting the team ready to play ultimately falls on June Jones -- who's normally well-respected as a coach, and deservedly so -- and the flat first half the Mustangs put forth is on his shoulders. Now, whatever Jones said to his guys at the half (probably something along the lines of "GUYS YOU ARE IN A BOWL GAME") worked, as SMU outscored Army 14-0 after the break, but when Matt Smymanski 's 47-yard field goal sailed left, it was too little, too late. Why Szymanski was even kicking a 47-yard field goal in the first place is a good question, since Jones called an inside draw on 2nd and 10 -- away from what had been working very well for the SMU offense the entire day -- and the blitz pickup on 3rd and 9 was nonexistent. Those calls didn't put SMU in a position to win, and for that, June Jones must be judged harshly. Grade: D

Final Grade

Anyone who saw the 16-0 lead for Army knew it wasn't going to stay that way for long, and it didn't; SMU made this a game with plenty of time in the fourth quarter, and if it weren't for some odd play calling on the final series, SMU could have easily won. That said, the contest was pretty sloppy at times on both sides, and fans can probably be excused for tuning out before the exciting last few minutes. All that aside, this is a bowl win for Army -- its first in over two decades -- and it's this writer's opinion that success at a traditional power like Army is on the whole a net plus for the sport of college football, so this game was good to see. Grade: B+

Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:27 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Armed Forces Bowl

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Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: December 31, 2010 12:19 am
 

Bowl Grades: Armed Forces Bowl

Adam, I'm giving you a "C" for this write-up, and that is using a pretty steep curve. You actually dissed Army's offense when it did what it needed to do? -- play ball control and generate points when needed. Then you gave SMU's offense a B- when they gave up three turnovers -- one of which led to Army points. And yardage without points is like kissing your sister -- no buzz.

You then gave the SMU D a higher grade than the Army D -- huh?!?! Army held SMU to almost 12 points below its season average, and pressured Padron into some bad choices. The Black Knights D protected the thin lead for their team, and held onto the victory.

Blaming June Jones for not motivating the Mustangs is a cheap way out. If the SMU players weren't excited about playing at home, they could have refused the invitation. It's not like the Mustangs are used to going to bowls -- their participation in last year's Hawai'i Bowl was their first in 25 years. Going to a bowl for only the second time in a generation should have been motivation enough for the Mustang players, esp. for the seniors who had endured years of lousy seasons.

Appreciate the effort, but you may want to analyze a little deeper for the next go-'round.

Are you doing a pre-game write-up for each bowl? Am curious to see how you break down the upcoming Penn State-Florida game.


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