Army head coach Jeff Monken and his team captains can only hope that this Black Knight team can rebound as well as the last Army football team that lost by more than 60 points did more than 50 years ago.
Before Saturday night’s 62-0 thrashing by host and No. 19 LSUat Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., the last time Army lost a game by more than 60 points was in 1972 when Nebraska and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers came into Michie Stadium and knocked the Black Knights around, 77-7.
The next week Army bounced back and beat host Texas A&M, 24-14, in College Station, Tx.
Looking for just about any positive thing to take from this devastating loss, Monken and the team’s senior co-captains expects this version of the Black Knights to have the same fortitude to put this game behind them and focus on beating UMass next Saturday at Michie Stadium.
“It is the same errors that we have been seeing for about a four-game stretch now on offense with turnovers and critical errors on third and fourth down, our conversion downs,” says senior offensive lineman and co-captain Connor Finucane. “It is nothing new. We are grinding away at it and trying to get better every day, decreasing our turnovers and really trying to effectively run the ball so we can spread out the defense and start attacking every inch of the field. So, I think it is a great opportunity for the team, as a statement after a four-game losing streak, to come back and reset our culture and start our new season.”
Linebacker and co-captain Jimmy Ciarlo echoed those comments, noting that the team needs to quickly move beyond the LSU game and focus on UMass and other teams as well as the upcoming Commander-in-Chief contests against Air Force and Navy.
“After we correct the errors, we can’t let this weigh on us or it is going to be really hard to be successful the rest of the season,” Ciarlo said. “It is going to start tomorrow. We are going to get a good lift in in the weight room and after that hit the film room and get acclimated to UMass and the strengths and weaknesses of their offense. Like Connor says, the new season starts tomorrow.”
Frankly, that is all Monken and his team, which now stands at 2-5 on the season after losing four straight, can hang their collective helmets on at this point. Playing before a boisterous crowd of more than 100,000 fans at Tiger Stadium, LSU had its way with the Black Knights all night. And, as hard as it to imagine, the game was not as close as the final score indicates. Army turned the ball over four times on three interceptions and a fumble and failed to get passed the LSU 28-yard line all night. Army also finished with just 42 passing yards on 15 attempts from three different quarterbacks, including two freshman, as regular starter Bryson Daily did not make the trip as he dealt with a leg injury suffered in last week’s loss to Troy.
Meanwhile, LSU’s high-powered offense made mincemeat of the Army defense all night, scoring on 10 of 11 drives in the game and finishing with more than 500 yards on offense. The Tigers’ highly-touted and Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Jayden Daniels passed for 279 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 for 15 passing before being pulled midway into the third quarter. Backup Garrett Nussmeier kept it going with 90 yards and one touchdown on seven for 12 passing.
In fact, the only bright spot for the Black Knights in an otherwise bleak night was the inspired running of freshman running back Kanye Udoh, who rushed for 108 yards on 21 carries, his second straight game with more than 100 rushing yards.
The shutout, the second straight after losing to Troy, 19-0, at Michie last week, was the first time Army was held scoreless in back-to-back games since the winless 2003 season when South Florida and TCU blanked the Black Knights on consecutive Saturdays. It was also the 52nd straight time an Army team has lost to a team that was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Army’s last win against a team ranked in the then Top 20 was against Air Force in 1972
“That is a well-coached team, super talented and with a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback,” says Monken. “They are fast, big and looked like an NFL team out there. They are fantastic. Our guys fought as hard as they could. Our guys played hard. We made mistakes and they got up early and did not let their foot off the gas.
“It is hard to gather positives. I do not know what we learned from that. I am proud of our guys. They played really hard. They care. It was an unbelievable atmosphere to be here and to have that experience. But to get beat 62-0 is hard.”
As for his team, Monken says he is confident they will rebound. “(They) don’t quit and keep playing all the way to the end,” he says. “(They will) show up tomorrow with a great attitude, ready to fight, ready to prepare. We still have a lot to play for. Our guys are tough and I have pretty good mind that they will show up tomorrow, ready to work.”