Scanned the BootBoardPlus at halftime. I’m a lot more positive on the first half than the consensus. To me, Army has eaten a lot of clock and executed its game plan well.
Army receives the second-half kick and has its 10th first down of the game after Angel Santiago scrambles to his right on third down. The Knights have done most of their damage today with Santiago under center, not A.J. Schurr, whom their coaches have been rotating in. In the second half alone, however, the Knights have lost two running backs to injury (Terry Baggett and Larry Dixon), and had to use a timeout before their first play of the half. Stanford has adjusted to take away the perimeter, as the announcers point out, and Santiago is dropped for a three-yard loss on third down, with no one to pitch it to. Army shanks a punt out of bounds, and Stanford will assume possession at its 32.
Montgomery is having a great game, and gets 12 yards on a quick throw to the perimeter here. On comes the ogre package, and Gaffney powers ahead for four. Then it’s an empty backfield and a quick hit to Whitfield for three. Hogan misses Whitfield on a third-down crossing route, and Rhyne booms a touchback into the end zone.
I wonder if we’re trying to do a bit too much on offense. Run power with Gaffney, get it to Montgomery, play action bomb it deep, and stick to that script. There’s a reason we do precisely those things when we really need a score. Now, we need to stick to a more pared-down, basic plan moving forward, instead of trying to get every player and every look out on the field.
A turnover would be really nice. Instead, Terry Baggett gets 16 on a wheel route, and on the next play, spins to run for 18 up the middle. Maybe this is a bit of a wakeup call for Stanford’s defense, with Shayne Skov (quiet game thus far) whiffing on a tackle on Baggett’s run. But Stanford forces a third down, Santiago holds too long before handing off to a new fullback, James Vaughters is all over the ball (good game for him), and it’s the 26th straight game with a forced turnover for the Cardinal.
Hogan has had an up and down day thus far, and is late on a first-down cross over the middle. He redeems himself on third down, however, hitting Montgomery (the game’s MVP thus far), down the right seam for 28 yards. More Gaffney up the middle, just as we prescribed, and Stanford is in the red zone with a new set of downs. Again, it’s Gaffney and Montgomery when we need to move the ball. I wish we’d lean on them even more. An offensive facemask call pushes the Cardinal into second and long, but Gaffney (who else?) is wide open on the wheel route down the left sideline and Stanford pushes its lead up to two scores.
Stanford 27, Army 13, 4:05 remaining, third quarter
As we browse the scoreboard, Minnesota has only a 15-12 lead over Western Illinois and Nebraska is ahead of UCLA, 21-10. On upset alert are Wake Forest (down 14-13 to Louisana-Monroe), Temple (down 13-7 to Fordham), Rutgers (up 14-10 over Eastern Michigan) and Virginia Tech (up 13-10 over East Carolina). If a couple of other power-conference teams could take it on the chin, that can only help when it comes bowl selection season.
Now Stanford’s defense has the clock and score on its side. If Army needs to pass, watch out, and sure enough, the cadets punt after one first down. Santiago was nearly sacked on first down of the final series, and pulled and ran for a minimal gain on third and 12, instead of forcing a throw into traffic.
Our player of the quarter is Tyler Gaffney, who has the period’s only score and, with a minute left in the period, has 89 yards on 13 carries (and 23 receiving yards). This drive sees an impressive Gaffney run churning up the middle for five, Montgomery skying for a 12-yard catch on the right sideline, and then Gaffney squirting through the right side for another 13 yards. Again, I love leaning on Gaffney and Montgomery. Gaffney finishes at 101 rushing yards through three quarters.
Our play of the quarter is James Vaughters’ fumble recovery, representing Stanford’s 26th straight game with a forced turnover, an FBS best.
End of third: Stanford 27, Army 13
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