Army Football Game Notes: The Air Force Game




WEST POINT, N.Y. - Following a week off, Army makes its longest road trip of the season when it travels to Air Force for its first game in the annual Commander In Chief's Trophy series. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised live nationally by CBS College Sports Network.

TELEVISION
Network: CBS College Sports
Play-by-Play: Dave Ryan
Color Analyst: Jason Sehorn

ARMY RADIO
Army Sports Network

  Flagship: WABC (770-AM, New York, N.Y.)
  Affiliates: WALL (1340-AM, Middletown, N.Y.); WEOK (1390-AM, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
Play-by-Play: John Minko
Color Analyst: Dean Darling
Sideline: Rich DeMarco
Program Host: Bob Outer

The 90-minute "Army Football Tailgate Show," hosted by Rich DeMarco and Bob Outer begins at 1:30 p.m. Pre-game coverage starts at 3 p.m.

SATELLITE RADIO
The Army Sports Network game broadcast will be carried via Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 129)beginning at 3:30 p.m.

INTERNET STREAMING
The entire Army Sports Network audio broadcast, including the "Army Football Tailgate Show," will be streamed live via ITT Knight Vision on www.goARMYsports.com each week. Subscription fees apply.

On Tuesdays of game weeks, Rich Ellerson's weekly press conference will be video streamed live on ITT Knight Vision. Thursday's "This Week in Army Football," show will also be video streamed live. Both events are available only to ITT Knight Vision subscribers.

COACHING MATCHUP
ARMY HEAD COACH RICH ELLERSON

  Alma Mater: Hawai'i, 1977
  1st Season at Army (3-5, .375)
  10th Season Overall (63-46, .578)
  Record vs. Air Force: 0-0

AIR FORCE HEAD COACH TROY CALHOUN
  Alma Mater: Air Force, 1989
  3rd Season at Air Force (22-13, .629)
  3rd Season Overall (22-13, .629)
  Record vs. Army: 2-0

The Black Knights had a bye week on Oct. 31 after a 27-10 loss to Rutgers on Friday, Oct. 23. Army rushed for 197 yards in the loss, but fumbled three times, including two in Scarlet Knights' territory. Rutgers also blocked a punt for a touchdown. The Black Knights are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. Army has suffered at least one three-game skid in each of the last 12 seasons.

The Black Knights' offense is trying to get on track. Army has scored less than 17 points in each of the five games and has not scored more than one offensive touchdown in that same span. The Black Knights have been in position to score, reaching the red zone 15 times in the last five games. They  have scored 12 times, but only five of those scores have been touchdowns. Army's 219.4 rushing yards per game ranks 11th in the nation, however the Black Knights' 59.9 passing yards per contest is 120th in the NCAA ranks.

The Army defense has been one of the top stop units in the nation this season, holding opponents to only 290.5 yards per game, the 14th-best average in the nation. Junior LB Stephen Anderson registered 10 tackles in the loss to Rutgers, and leads the team with 67 total tackles. Junior DE Josh McNary has had at least one tackle for loss in each of Army's eight games and has registered at least one sack in six of those outings. He already owns the Army single-season (10.5) and career (16.0) sack records, and currently ranks tied for first in the nation in tackles for loss per game (2.06) and second in the country in sacks per game (1.31).

AN ARMY WIN VS. AIR FORCE WOULD ...

  • End Army's 12-game losing streak in games played after October.
  • End the Black Knights' two-game road losing streak.
  • Give the Black Knights four wins in a season for the first time since 2005 (4-7).
  • Avoid putting the Black Knights three games under the .500 mark for the first time this season.
  • Snap a three-game losing streak to the Falcons.
  • End Army's seven-game skid in Commander-in-Chief's Trophy contests.
  • Mark the first time Army won two road games in a season since 2005 (at Akron; at Air Force).

SCOUTING THE FALCONS
Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun is in his third season on the sideline of his alma mater. He has guided the Falcons to a 22-13 record and two consecutive Armed Forces Bowl appearances. Prior to Calhoun's appointment, the Falcons last bowl appearance was in 2002 and their last consecutive bowl appearances came in 1997-98.

The Falcons are coming off a 34-16 road win at Colorado State to push them to 5-4 on the season and 4-2 in the Mountain West Conference. QB Tim Jefferson completed 7-of-12 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense. He also rushed 11 times for 35 yards. Kyle Halderman scored two touchdowns, one receiving and one rushing. The Falcons had to punt only one time in the contest, while the Air Force defense limited the Rams to only 267 yards of total offense.

Air Force features the fourth-ranked rushing offense in the nation, averaging 275.56 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons have also been efficient through the air, completing 51.5 percent of their throws for six touchdowns and only one interception. Jared Tew is the team's top rusher with 552 yards (61.3/game) and six touchdowns on 155 carries (3.6/att.). Tew is one of seven players with at least 150 rushing yards on the season. Asher Clark has 459 yards, while QB Connor Dietz is next on the list with 369 rushing yards. Nine different players have scored at least one rushing touchdown, including Jefferson (2). Jefferson has played in six games this season, missing three contests with an ankle injury. He is completing 55.4 percent of his throws (31-56) for 430 yards and four touchdowns. Dietz has played in seven games, throwing for one score and 197 yards. Kevin Folger and Jonathan Warzeka have been the top targets in the passing game with 14 and 13 receptions, respectively. Fogler is averaging 19.1 yards per catch with four touchdowns.

The Air Force defense ranks among the best in the nation in both scoring defense and total defense. The Falcons are 10th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 13.56 points per contest, while their 266.78 yards per game allowed is eighth in the country. Air Force also ranks second in the country with a +2.00 turnover margin. John Falgout leads the team with 66 total tackles. Justin Moore is next on the ledger with 53 stops. Ben Garland has made a team-leading 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Reggie Rembert and Anthony Wright have a team-high three interceptions each.

Special teams have also been a big part of the Falcons' success. Air Force ranks among the top 50 teams in the country in net punting (30th, 37.34), punt returns (49th, 9.94) and kickoff returns (33rd, 23.86). Erik Soderberg, who kicked three field goals in the win over Colorado State, is fourth in the country with 2.11 field goals per contest. He is tied for 16th in the nation with 8.67 points per game.

THE ARMY-AIR FORCE SERIES
Air Force leads the all-time series with the Black Knights, 29-13-1. The two teams first met in 1959 and have played annually since 1971.

Army is 9-11 all-time against Air Force at Michie Stadium. The series is tied at 1-1-1 at neutral sites. The Black Knights and Falcons squared off at Yankee Stadium in 1959 and Soldier Field in Chicago in 1963 and 1965. The Falcons own a decided advantage on their home field, winning 17 of the previous 20 meetings in Colorado. One of Army's three victories at Falcon Stadium was in 2005, the Black Knights' last win in the series.

Most of the last several meetings have been lopsided affairs. Only one of the last 14 games has been decided by a touchdown or less (27-24 Army win in 2005), and only three games in that span have had a single-digit margin of victory (31-22 Air Force in 2004; 27-24 Army in 2005; Air Force 16-7 in 2008).

LAST YEAR'S MEETING: AIR FORCE 16, ARMY 7 (NOV. 1, 2008)
WEST POINT, N.Y.  -
Army scored on its first possession but Air Force put together a touchdown and three field goals to beat the Black Knights, 16-7, in front of a sellout crowd of more than 37,400 at Michie Stadium.
  
Playing at Michie Stadium for the final time in 2008, Army responded to the huge crowd with a touchdown less than two minutes into the game but did not find the end zone again.
  
Army led in most statistical categories but three field goals by Ryan Harrison were the difference. The Black Knights held a 250-174 advantage in total yards, a 17-10 lead in first downs, and won the time of possession battle 31:50-28:10.
  
Collin Mooney led the rushing game with 22 carries for 92 yards while Chip Bowden picked up 44 yards on 19 carries.
  
Todd Newell was Air Force's leading rusher with eight carries for 42 yards and Tim Jefferson ran 12 times for 25 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson completed three of eight passes for 32 yards.
  
John Plumstead paced the Army defense with 14 tackles while Josh McNary had 12 and Stephen Anderson 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss.

CIC TROPHY HISTORY
To help commemorate the Trophy's 25th birthday, President Bill Clinton was on hand at "The Vet" in 1996 to present the Black Knights with the glimmering silver Trophy following their come-from-behind victory. It marked the first time that a standing President attended an Army-Navy clash since Gerald Ford looked on in 1974 to see Navy defeat Army 19-0.

Former President George W. Bush witnessed the Army-Navy game three times during his two terms in office, venturing to Philadelphia in 2002, 2004 and 2008.

The Trophy is named in honor of the President of the United States as commander in chief of the armed forces. The three-sided structure, which weighs 170 pounds and stands 2 1/2 feet tall, is engraved with the seal of each academy and displays a reproduction of each school's mascot. The year in which the Trophy is won is engraved on the appropriate academy's side.

The idea for the establishment of an interservice football trophy originated with the late Gen. George B. Simler, commander of the Air Training Command and a former Air Force Academy athletic director. The 1972 season was seen as an appropriate time to consider such an idea since it also marked the first season of the round-robin competition among the three teams.

Simler proposed the idea to the USAFA Association of Graduates early in 1972. The Association, in turn, proposed the project to the alumni associations at West Point and Annapolis as suitable for joint sponsorship by the three institutions. Following formal adoption of the project, designs for the Trophy were sought from manufacturers.

HERE'S THE POINT
The Black Knights posted 27 points in their season opener at Eastern Michigan. It was the most points Army scored in a season opener since the 1996 season - the last time the Black Knights were victorious in a season debut (37-20 over Ohio).

The victory improved Army's record to 7-3 in its last 10 games when scoring at least 27 points. Army has scored 27 points in seven of its last 14 wins.

The loss to Rutgers dropped the Black Knights' record to 6-74 since the start of 1996 in games where they score less than 20 points. Four of the six wins have come in the last three seasons. Army defeated Rhode Island, 14-7, in overtime on Sept. 8, 2007, Eastern Michigan, 17-13, on Oct. 11, 2008, Louisiana Tech, 14-7, on Oct. 25, 2008, and Vanderbilt 16-13 in overtime on Oct. 10, 2009.

SEEING RED
The Black Knights have scored on their last four trips into the red zone, however, only two of those scoring forays have resulted in touchdowns. In the last seven games, Army has reached the end zone only eight times in 20 red-zone chances (40.0 percent).

Overall, Army is 20 for 25 (80 percent) in the red zone this season with 12 touchdowns. The Black Knights are tied for 74th in the nation. Army has scored points on 39 of its last 46 trips into the red zone (84.8).

Defensively, Army has forced opponents into similar frustration. In the last 19 games, the Black Knights have limited opponents to 28 touchdowns in 58 red-zone trips (48.3 percent).

Through eight games in 2009, the Black Knights are tied for the 25th-best red zone defense at 0.75 (18 for 24).

AT A LOSS
Army's 6.25 tackles for loss ranks 45th in the nation. The Black Knights had a season-high nine tackles for loss in the opener at Eastern Michigan. Army's 2.38 sacks per game are tied for 37th in the nation. The Black Knights have two five-sack games this season (6 at Eastern Michigan & 5 at Temple).

In its first game running the "double-eagle flex" the Black Knights' defense showcased its ability to rush the passer, notching six sacks at Eastern Michigan. Army had five sacks in the loss at Temple.

Army's six sacks at EMU is tied for the second most in Academy history. Sacks began being tracked during the 1983 season. The Black Knights' single-game record is seven sacks against Dartmouth on Sept. 24, 1983.

UP NEXT ...
The Black Knights return to West Point for their final home game of 2009 when they host VMI on Nov. 14. The matchup with the Keydets has been designated Military Appreciation Day. The first 5,000 fans through the gates at Michie Stadium  will receive a free Build-a-Bear featuring Army mascot mule Blackjack dressed in the Army combat uniform. It is also the final home appearance for the Black Knights' 26 seniors. That group will be honored in a pregame ceremony. The game will be televised by CBS College Sports Network on a tape-delayed basis.

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