Posted on: December 11, 2010 4:21 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 5:56 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It may be a little early to declare the Army-Navy game (live now, exclusively on CBS ) over and done with, but with the Midshipmen up 24-7 at halftime , it doesn't look like this is the year the Black Knights end their eight-year losing streak against their archrivals. Army's first-half score is their single touchdown scored against Navy since 2006, so how likely is is they manage the three necessary to overturn the deficit?
Not likely, though it didn't look like likely that Army would even offer the Midshipmen a challenge after falling behind 17-0 and not recording so much as a first down until 10:15 remained in the half. But Ricky Dobbs' fumble set the Knights up on the Navy 23, and a short Trent Steelman touchdown pass broke Army's three-year touchdown drought.
But Steelman giveth, and Steelman taketh away in the most gut-wrenching fashion possible. Another Navy fumble led to first-and-goal for Army from the 3, but Steelman fumbled on a plunge over the right side, and Wyatt Middleton returned the ball 98 yards for a massive Navy score. Instead of being down three with the ball to start the second half, now the Knights are looking at scaling a near-impossible deficit. One play, a 14 points' worth of swing.
Of course, part of the reason that deficit looks as imposing as it does is because when they haven't been fumbling the ball away -- they've done it three times -- Navy has been the better team. Dobbs has torched Army through the air, connecting on four passes for 164 yards (yes, that's 41 yards a completion) and the Midshipmen own a 213-115 advantage in total yards. 77 of those came on this Dobbs touchdown pass to John Howell , the longest Navy play in Army-Navy history:
Assuming Navy hangs onto the ball, the Knights won't stand a chance of a comeback after Middleton's score.
They might not have stood a chance anyway, of course. But if the streak extends to nine games, there's also no question that's the play they'll point to as the moment things got away from them.
UPDATE, 6 p.m. EST: Army made a nice effort in the second half, getting another touchdown pass from Steelman to pull within 14 points late, but a ruthless 13-play, 87-yard Navy touchdown drive that ate up the first 9 minutes of the fourth quarter erased any real hope of a Black Knight comeback. Of course, if you take away the 7 points from the Middleton return and add them to Army's tally if Steelman had forced his way in instead, the game might have been tied down the stretch. As you might have expected at the half, here is where the game was won and lost:
Posted on: December 3, 2010 6:48 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier today, some rumors started floating that Minnesota had interviewed Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo and considered him a finalist for the Gophers' head coaching spot. Unsurprisingly, the rumors were started by Tom Dienhart , who -- and we don't mean this as pejoratively as it probably sounds -- does this sort of thing a lot.
Well, Navy associate SID Scott Strasemeier is on Twitter, and caught wind of Dienhart's reporting. Hilarity, as they say, ensued.
"Tom, this is not true," Strasemeier replied to Dienhart. "Coach Niumatalolo has not interviewed with Minnesota nor have we been contacted for permission."
This isn't the first time that one of Dienhart's rumors has been shot down by a school official on Twitter; just last week, Dienhart's rumor about Rich Rodriguez 's imminent firing was dismissed by Michigan AD Dave Brandon in a tweet, although it's debatable whether RichRod did himself any favors on that front yesterday.
Still, between this and the Jon Gruden follies from earlier this week, it's demonstrably important to take any rumors of coaching hires or interviews with a grain of salt -- provided that grain is the size of an ottoman. Besides, if the school's conducting its business properly, its new coach's name won't be floated until the hiring's announced.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 5:24 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
These are heady times for the Army football program, and hey, why not? The Black Knights are bowl-eligible for the first time since 1996, and second-year head coach Rich Ellerson has his players going into their annual tilt with Navy on as close to equal footing with the Midshipmen as Army's been since Navy's early-decade nadir.
It's fitting, then, that Army has accepted an invitation to the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl (I mean, what are the odds, right?), which will be held December 30 in University Park, TX -- the home of Southern Methodist University. As the Dallas Morning News points out, SMU could very well join Army in that bowl if the Mustangs drop their Conference USA title matchup with Central Florida this week. If the Mustangs prevail, yes, it'll probably be UCF facing Army instead.
And no, the fact that Army's in this bowl isn't exactly an accident; while the Armed Forces Bowl's tie-ins are the Mountain West and C-USA, the automatic BCS bid that TCU will get means the Mountain West won't be able to fill all five of its bowl slots. For this exact reason, the Armed Forces Bowl had a side agreement with Army that if either conference couldn't fill its obligation, Army would take the spot. With TCU headed to a BCS bowl on account of its 12-0 record, the berth opened up, and here we are.
All that aside, does anybody else wonder why Bell Helicopters is sponsoring this bowl? Obviously, it's great that Bell is doing so, but the helicopter industry is so specialized that increasing brand awareness among the general public doesn't seem like a very prudent way to go about advertising. But it's Bell's money and not mine, so it's little more than an academic question, but still: does Bell's business change at all after the bowl?
Posted on: November 18, 2010 4:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College football's efforts to crack down on illegal head shots continued Wednesday, as the WAC suspended Idaho safety Shiloh Keo for the first half of the Vandals' next game for this blow to the helmet of Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin :
Frankly, Keo is lucky he's only missing a half; he was initially suspended for the entire game but had it reduced on appeal. (Not that anyone at Boise can complain; Bronco cornerback Winston Venable also had a WAC-induced suspension reduced earlier this year.)
That Keo is suspended at all, though, further emphasizes the new, uh, emphasis in the sport this year on preventing head injuries. But is it coming at the expense of other kinds of equally nasty hits? The SEC raised eyebrows this week when it declined to punish Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley for a late blow to the back of Georgia 's Aaron Murray , and passed as well on issuing punishment to the two Bulldog linemen whose attempted retaliation on Fairley sparked a near-brawl. Notre Dame 's Kerry Neal went unpunished for this stomp on the torso of a Navy player.
The crackdown on blows to the head and concussions is, without question, an admirable one. But those are not the only dangerous -- and avoidable -- hits on the football field.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 5:58 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's three of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern) :
UCF (6-2, 4-0) at Houston (5-3, 4-1), 8 p.m. Friday: It's less than three hours away from kickoff, but if you've got plans, change 'em: it's not every week you get a meeting between the leaders of each of Conference USA 's divisions (UCF in the East, Houston in the West). The schedule is less than kind to the Golden Knights, who already had what looked like a season-defining matchup in last week's 49-35 win over previous C-USA favorite East Carolina and now have the short week to prepare for their trip to Houston. But if they can get the same mix of Ronnie Weaver 's powerful rushing and new starting quarterback Jeff Godfrey 's efficient passing that powered them to 424 total yards last week, they'll be OK. For Houston, this is another chance to prove the three-losses-out-of-four skid following Case Keenum 's season-ending injury is truly behind them, and to put some distance between them and co-division leaders SMU .
Air Force (5-4, 3-3) at Army (5-3, n/a), 12 p.m.: It's been eight years since someone other than Navy took home the Commander in Chief's Trophy, but that could change tomorrow as a Falcons win would send the trophy back to Colorado Springs for the first time since 2002. That's not to say the stakes won't be equally high for Army; a win would make them bowl-eligible for the first time since 1996 and set up a winner-take-all showdown with the Midshipmen for the CIC Trophy. The Black Knights will be at home, but that may not be a help, since they've already dropped games to Hawaii and Temple at Michie Stadium this year and the Falcons have won six straight in West Point. With both teams well-versed in defending the other's option attack, the final result could come down to which team executes in their rare attempts to put the ball in the air.
Texas (4-4, 2-3) at Kansas State (5-3, 2-3), 8 p.m.: Admit it: it's fascinating to see how low the Longhorns can sink. And it remains possible they could sink all the way out of the postseason, with the 'Horns sitting at 4-4 and three potential losses still on the schedule in Oklahoma State , Texas A&M , and this week's date in Manhattan. If they can't contain Wildcat running back Daniel Thomas or get their 79th-ranked rushing attack going, Texas will slip below .500 for the first time in Mack Brown 's tenure in a long, long time. But there's a lot on the line for the Wildcats, too, who would secure themselves a bowl bid for the first time in Bill Snyder 's second stint at the KSU helm.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 12:10 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 4:36 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Notre Dame linebacker Kerry Neal is in his senior season, and since Neal came to South Bend, the Irish have gone 20-25 which is probably not what Neal thought he was signing up for. Something that is no doubt frustrating for Neal, the rest of his team, and fans of the once proud tradition at Notre Dame. Though those frustrations, while understandable, certainly do not condone actions like this.
That's Neal stomping on Navy slotback John Howell during Navy's 35-17 stomping of the Irish on Saturday. Head coach Brian Kelly is yet to address this play, and who knows if he's even aware of it at this point, but if he is then you would think that Neal would be suspended for at least a game.
It was a gutless act, and one that needs to be punished.
Hat tip: Her Loyal Sons via SportsByBrooks
UPDATE: During Brian Kelly's press conference on Tuesday afternoon the head coach said that he was aware of the play, but that he wouldn't be punishing Neal. Which is just, well, disturbing.
Posted on: October 25, 2010 9:51 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 12:24 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Over the last few years, Notre Dame has grown somewhat accustomed to being on the wrong end of a beating. Still, the school's loss to Navy over the weekend took things to a brand new level. Suddenly a Navy team that the Irish once held a 43-game win streak over beat them for the third time in four years, and this time did it via a 35-17 evisceration.
Navy fullback Alexander Teich ran the ball down Notre Dame's throat repeatedly, finishing the afternoon with 210 yards on 26 carries. When the Irish defense sit down to watch the tape this week, they might fall under the impression they're watching a snuff film rather than a football game. So, if it wasn't obvious to Notre Dame before Saturday that its run defense needs a lot of work, it definitely is now.
Though it's going to be very hard to improve now that the team has learned starting nose tackle Ian Williams is going to miss the next four to six weeks with a torn MCL. Which could mean that the senior's season, and career, at Notre Dame are over because at 4-4 on the season, there is no guarantee that the Irish will be going to a bowl game this winter.
Williams suffered the injury during the third quarter of the game, and according to CBS' sideline reporter Sam Ryan, he was seen sobbing on the sideline before an air cast was put on his leg.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 1:33 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 2:30 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The days of Notre Dame 's 43-game win streak over Navy seem like a very long time ago. At halftime in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Midshipmen look like they're ready to pick up their third win over the Irish in the last four years, leading 21-10 at the half.
Notre Dame's defense is just being gashed by the option attack of Navy, as the Middies have put together scoring drives of 99 and 71 yards, with Alexander Teich , Gee Gee Green and Ricky Dobbs exploiting huge holes and missed assignments all day. Navy tacked on another touchdown just before the half after Dayne Crist threw an interception to leave a short field for the Midshipmen.
The defining play of the first half came on Notre Dame's first drive, when facing a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Crist was stuffed on a quarterback sneak. Navy then countered with that 99-yard touchdown drive, 84 of which came courtesy of Teich on a 54-yard run up the middle and a 30-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass.
Brian Kelly said before the game that wide receiver Michael Floyd, who has been battling a hamstring injury all week, would only play in an emergency. I wonder if being down 21-10 at halftime constitutes one?