The Army Black Knights recorded their first shutout since 2005 Saturday, defeating the North Texas Mean Green 24-0. Army sacked the North Texas quarterbacks four times, including two more from Josh McNary who now has five sacks on the young season. McNary now owns the school record for tackles for loss in a career in addition to already holding the school’s career sack record. The Mean Green put the shutout in jeopardy on their final possession moving their way down to the Army seven yard-line, but two penalties left them with fourth and goal from the Army 14. McNary put the exclamation point on the game, sacking Riley Dodge to preserve the shutout.
The Army offense looked very good, rushing for 292 yards and giving seven different players carries in the process. Brian Cobbs led the way with 75 yards. Trent Steelman played with a partially torn left rotator cuff and rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown. Patrick Mealy and Malcolm Brown also scored touchdowns. Mealy would leave the game due to an injury.
Injuries have been the story of the 2010 North Texas season. With Todd Dodge on the hot seat, given an ultimatum of either winning seven games or being fired, this could not have gone worse. Having already lost six starters to major, likely season-ending injuries, the Mean Green suffered three more Saturday. Backup quarterback Derek Thompson started in place of injured starter Nathan Tune, but he broke his Tibia, forcing Riley Dodge into action. Dodge is Head Coach Todd Dodge’s son. He started at quarterback last season but after multiple surgeries on his arm was moved the wide receiver. Now it looks he will start the rest of the way. Center Nick Leppo tore his ACL, and wide receiver Chris Bynes tore his achilles tendon.
What Went Right: A good all-around game. The offense performed well and scored four times. The defense attacked, making plays in the backfield and creating turnovers. The special teams created good field position for the offense and defense. The Army coaches should be pleased with what the team did on Saturday. They beat a team they were supposed to beat, and did it handily.
What Went Wrong: North Texas Injuries. Normally this is reserved for an Army perspective, but the North Texas injury list is a shame. No one wants to see a player get injured. But to have nine starters lost for the season by the third game is ridiculous. The administration has put a lot of pressure on Dodge to win games, but no team could lose nine starters and make a major improvement over last year’s record. Hopefully the administration can be reasonable.
Player of the Game: A lot of options for Army in this spot. McNary had two more sacks. Jordan Trimble grabbed his second career interception and recorded nine tackles including a tackle for loss. My award goes to Trent Steelman. Steelman ran for 68 yards and a touchdown and completed five of ten passes for 45 yards. Not exactly Heisman numbers but Steelman’s performance goes beyond statistics. The Army offense depends on Steelman to orchestrate their option attack and this season he has done a masterful job. Army has rushed for 11 touchdowns so far after rushing for 13 in all of 2009. Steelman played Saturday with a partially torn left rotator cuff and continued to do his job. He is required to wait until the last moment to make the pitch, hanging himself out to dry. He paid a price on Saturday, as North Texas teed off on him a few times. Steelman’s heart, leadership, and ability to run the offense earned him this award.
Final Word: A good win. North Texas is a team Army should beat and they did. Still, the passing game looked to be a little out of sync, although it can be hard to develop a rhythm when only throwing ten passes a game. Army is another win closer to becoming bowl-eligible, only four more wins needed. This week the Black Knights will travel to Durham, N.C. to take on the Duke Blue Devils, who lost to Alabama 62-13 Saturday.
About the Author
Written by Donald Lappe
Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Double Major in Media & Society and United States History. Also writing for TapouT Magazine and MMA Worldwide Magazine.