Thursday, October 01, 2009

Did Army Score 50 Last Year?

The New York Post puts Army -6.5 over Tulane for Saturday’s tilt up at West Point. Perhaps it is the ongoing glow, a sort recurrent optimism, emanating from the Phillies third straight NL East crown, but I like Tulane here on Prediction Thursday.

Not an easy pick, mind you. Under Toledo, I always get this impression that Tulane is easy to play against. I don’t mean in the sense that they don’t run enough trick plays, etc. I mean regular football stuff: they commit a dozen penalties every game because they don’t line up right, have the correct guys on the field or lack the discipline to stay on-sides. The “manage-the-game” qb throws multiple picks. The bigger the kick-off return the more likely it is to go for a score.

No one has pressed those buttons harder than Army: last year’s utter shellacking at Homecoming and the Wave’s complete late fourth quarter unraveling in 2007. Toledo has been badly outcoached in both games- and the team was utterly unprepared last year. On the road, in the forecasted rain, down a score or two early, this could get to “start the bus” territory before half.

Here, my optimism is centered on the fact I just don’t think Army is that good. Their last two homes games featured indifferent opposition- Ball State and Duke- that Army could not blow out. Throw in some bad weather, indifferent Cadet quarterback play (not one quarterback has ten total completions for the season?!)- and Army is no lock to get to 30 points. For one thing, they haven’t this year.

And the Cadets will need to score. Throw out Tulane’s efforts versus Tulsa and BYU- two outfits that present a whole different class of defenders than Army. Frankly, I’m not sure Army is a whole class better than McNeese either- which means Tulane should be able to rush for a big number here and thus score some. Tulane can put up four touchdowns, rush for close to 200 yards. They can get some big plays from a pair of skill players (Robottom and Williams) I don’t think Army can cover out on the perimeter. Plus, Army plays that same sort of curious special teams we play. Points, plus ball control (did you know the much maligned Kemp is completing almost 70% of his passes), maybe bad weather- and it will be hard for Army to get two scores separation- heck, let alone outright win.

I normally would be worried about yet another ragged performance from the defense- particularly with a new MLB coming in to play versus a real tricky offense. But if Tulane can’t suck it up here and play hard- against a team that utterly humiliated them last year- when are they ever going to come to play?

Ultimately, I just don’t think the Wave is a two win disaster like last year. The Green Wave defense is probably terrible- but the quarterback is not an absolute zero and the troika of Anderson, Williams and Robottom is pretty good. And if they are a four-ish win team, like I expect, this is a game they ought to be in until the end. Plus, you get 6.5 points.

I’ll take them gladly, give me Tulane +6.5 over Army.

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