Army (1-5): Lost to Kent State, 31-17. Unfortunately for Army, they couldn’t turn an exciting win over Boston College into momentum for the next week. Kent State spent most of the game in the “wishbone defense” (4-4 with a single safety deep to play the pitch). It’s a very beatable scheme, but Kent State defenders were able to make up for it by winning most of the individual 1-on-1 battles. Army’s offense did a little better in the second half and actually ended up gaining more yards than Kent State, but it was too little, too late.
If there’s a silver lining for Army, it’s that their defense really didn’t play that badly. They had no answer for Dri Archer, who ran for 222 yards on only 12 carries (including an 87-yard TD run to put the game away in the 4th quarter), but Kent State only managed 84 passing yards. The defense kept Army in the game while the offense was held scoreless in the first half. Army even had a chance to make it a one-score game in the 4th quarter, but couldn’t convert on a 4th down from the Kent State 11 yard line. The game might have been even closer if Rich Ellerson didn’t make a somewhat desperate decision to go for it on 4th & 1 from his own 38 in the 3rd quarter. They failed to convert, and it led to a Kent State field goal.
My impression while watching this game was that the Army offense just had a bad day. They’ll get back on track soon enough. If their defense really is improving, then the second half of their season could get a lot more interesting.
Air Force (3-3): Beat Wyoming, 28-27. Wyoming blew a 27-14 lead and fell to 1-5. The turning point in the game came in the 3rd quarter, when Connor Dietz ran for 48 yards on a draw play on 3rd & 8 that kept alive what would become a 95-yard touchdown drive. Air Force’s defense held Wyoming to their only 3 & out after that, and the Falcons took the lead with a 16-play, 67-yard drive on the ensuing possession. Air Force’s defense continued to struggle, as the Cowboys actually out-rushed Air Force, 252-230. Wyoming was also starting a freshman backup quarterback, with starter Brett Smith out with an injury. Jason Thompson went 23-for-36 for 195 yards and a TD.
It might be a Pyrrhic victory for Air Force, depending on how badly Cody Getz is hurt. Getz left the game on the go-ahead TD drive with an ankle injury and did not return. His status for this weekend’s game against is unclear. Once upon a time that wouldn’t have been too big of a concern against New Mexico, but Bob Davie’s Lobos are born again hard and will be a big test for Air Force.
Getting more attention than the game itself is the postgame non-handshake between coaches. Dave Christensen chose instead to hurl a few choice words at Troy Calhoun. When asked about the confrontation after the game, Christensen said that he felt that the Air Force coaches told Connor Dietz to fake an injury in order to avoid having to call timeout. On what would turn out to be the game-winning drive, Dietz lost his helmet on 2nd & goal. By rule, that meant that he had to leave the game, and he started walking toward the sideline. Then, for some reason, he decided to sit down and have the trainers come look at him. Christensen claims that Air Force coaches told Dietz to sit in order to have extra time to set up the next play with his backup, Kale Pearson.
It certainly looked shady the way Dietz left the field, and there’s no doubt that the extra time was a big advantage for Air Force. If you’re on defense, you want nothing more than a backup quarterback rushed onto the field to call & run a play in that situation. I couldn’t see on television whether or not the Air Force coaches told Dietz to go down, so the coaches themselves are probably the only ones who know the truth. What we do know is that now Troy Calhoun is using the incident to reflect on the First Amendment, which makes him the biggest tool on earth regardless of whether or not he actually cheated.