Army defense gives Cadets a shot

Army defense gives Cadets a shot

It's official: Army's defense is for real. Now, if the Black Knights' offense could only get it going. More on that struggling unit later. For now, let's focus on black and gold's 'D'. The fearless group that kept Army in the Akron game, the group that prevented a fallout loss to Rhode Island, the group that put the Black Knights in position to beat heavily favored Wake Forest last Saturday.

Wake Forest beat Army 21-10, but only one of the Demon Deacons' touchdowns came against the Black Knights' 'D'. That came on a 10-yard run by Josh Adams with 6:16 left in the first quarter. Army held the defending ACC champions scoreless over the last three-plus quarters.

"Offensively, we weren't able to do much at all," admitted Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe after the game.

Army's defense has allowed just 29 points this season. That's an average of 9.6 points per game. To put the 29 points in perspective, Navy gave up 34 points in an overtime loss to MAC bottom feeder Ball State this last week.

With players like Caleb Campbell, Jordan Murray, Victor Ugenyi and Brandon Thompson leading the way, Army ranks 17th in the nation in team defense (267.67 yards per game). That ranks the Black Knights ahead of defending national champion Florida (19) and top-ranked USC (41), among other national powers.

Army is seventh in the nation in passing defense, following South Carolina, Notre Dame, Ball State, Rutgers LSU and Fresno State. The Black Knights' defense has played well enough for Army to be 3-0. This unit brings back memories of the 1996 group that helped Army to a 10-2 record.

Meanwhile, the offense has sputtered. Army ranks 110th out of 119 teams in the nation with 258 yards per game. Every position on the Black Knights' offense has been inconsistent, at best, other than tight ends Justin Larson and Mike Evans.

We've all seen this before, Army's defense being left high and dry by the unproductive offense. The defense makes stand after stand, as the offense goes three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out etc. Finally, in the the third or fourth quarter, exhausted, the defense caves. Any unit would. Here's a passing thought: Imagine if Army ran the option, like, say, Air Force or Navy. It would give the Army defense so much more time to rest and get ready to devour the opposition.

But this is 2007. Army doesn't run the option. Offensive coordinator Tim Walsh has done a good job with what he has. But now the Army offense has to step up and make plays.

If not, they are going to waste what could be a glorious run by Army's fearless defense. Extra points: Army punter Owen Tolson continues to rocket up the NCAA rankings. He is ranked 10th in the nation with an average of 45.38 yards per punt. Virginia's Ryan Weigand is first (49.38).

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