Army players and coaches have maintained though the offense has changed from under center to shotgun that the mindset is still the same.
The Black Knights want to be the more physical and tougher team when they have the football.
Their opening drive was old-school Army football with the offensive line completely setting the tone for the game. Sixteen plays (13 runs), two fourth-down conversions, 7-minute, 28-second touchdown drive.
Plenty of candidates for player of the game or “game ball” in 37-29 win including quarterback Bryson Daily, running back Hayden Reed, linebackers Jimmy Ciarlo and Jackson Powell.
The offensive line certainly deserves consideration. UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said, “We just couldn’t win in the trenches. They physically manhandled us up front.”
Army entered the season with eight returning offensive lineman that had starting experience. The Black Knights starting line against UTSA had tackle David Hoyt, making his first start, guard Lucas Scott (second start) and freshman center Brady Small (third start). Thought Hoyt was impressive in his starting debut.
Bryson Daily operated the shotgun scheme on a tremendously elite level. Army ran 83 plays without a penalty, turnover or sack allowed (18 attempts) and was 6-for-6 on fourth down. Army scored on its first six drives and seven out of 10 (including one running out clock) in the game.
Daily’s broken tackles was off the charts. His second and third efforts running the football helped Army consistently move the chains. Daily continues to gain confidence throwing the football. With a blitzer baring down on him, Daily calmly sidearmed a pass to Noah Short.
Daily became the first Army player to pass for 100 yards (133) and rush for 100 yards (100) in a game since Kelvin Hopkins (Tulane, Oct. 5, 2019).
“The quarterback played an unbelievable ball game,” Traylor said. “The kid is a scrapper. We couldn’t get him down.”
Running back Hayden Reed and Daily seemed to feed off each other with their physical running style. Reed recorded his first career 100-yard game (107 yards).
How about Markel Johnson’s 55-yard halfback option pass to Isaiah Alston? Great to see a trick play called at the perfect time, for it to work and it be a play down the field. Thought Traylor said in his press conference that UTSA’s first blown coverage of the season came on that play.
Talked about Johnson being a good fit for the shotgun offense in the spring. Friday night showed why. Johnson can pick up the tough yards, catch a pass behind or near the line of scrimmage and break out a big gain. Didn’t know about Johnson’s passing skills but that just adds to value.
Lots of talks on social media about this win as one of the biggest in the Jeff Monken era. UTSA had won seven straight home games and 17 of its last 18 at the Alamodome. The Roadrunners’ 24 wins since the start of the 2021 season tied for third best among all FBS teams.
Sure, UTSA was without its star quarterback Frank Harris due to injury but it’s still a quality win that keeps Army’s momentum going heading into road game against Syracuse, which is a tougher challenge. Coach Jeff Monken talked about the UTSA game starting a “Murderous Row” of games with Syracuse, a bye week, Boston College (home), Troy (home) and at LSU. Eight of Army’s last nine games are legit challenges. Offensive coordinator Drew Thatcher needs to keep defenses guessing. Will be interesting to see what else Thatcher has in his bag of tricks.
Thought Army’s defense was pretty solid with the exception of UTSA’s three big touchdown plays. The tackling needs to be better and the Hail Mary touchdown pass just before halftime can’t happen. Ball needs to be batted down or the receiver knocked down the receiver and take an interference penalty.
Senior linebacker Jimmy Ciarlo continues to play at a high level to start the season. Ciarlo forced a fumble on UTSA’s second play (that would be cashed in for Army’s second touchdown) and drew an offensive pass interference penalty with great coverage on the tight end when the game was still in the balance.
The play of the game may have been Jackson Powell’s third down sack on UTSA’s final drive. The sack prevented the Roadrunners from going for it on fourth down and forced a punt. Army would run out the clock following Powell’s second sack in as many games.
Quinn Maretzki made a career-high three field goals including a career-best 45 yards. He is the first Army kicker to make three field goals in a game since John Abercrombie against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 27, 2018.