With almost a month before its annual intramural against Navy, Army coach Jeff Monken has been able to focus not just all his attention, but that of his team on breaking the Black Knights’ 12-game losing streak against the Midshipmen. As such….wait a minute.
“We look forward to this weekend. It will be the final game at Michie Stadium for our seniors,” Monken said. “We certainly want to honor those guys and hopefully we can do that by playing our best football of the year, which we’ll need to do to beat Fordham.”
Fordham. The 10-1 Patriot-League champion Rams surely represent more than just a pre-Navy distraction. They feature a quarterback who has blown his school’s record book apart for an offense that has averaged almost 44 points per game. And as Fordham has lost all its three previous games against Army, the Rams are surely psyched for some payback.
In case you’re keeping track, the teams’ first game against each other was in 1881, a 10-6 Army victory. The following two happened in 1949 (Army won 35-0) and in 2011 (a 55-0 Army victory). The 1949 game featured two future Hall of Fame coaches – Red Blaik, the Army head coach, and Vince Lombardi, a Fordham assistant coach. That’s history.
The most distinct contrast between the two teams is Fordham’s status as an FCS team and Army being an FBS team. FBS teams can offer 85 scholarships, FCS 63. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the team with the greater number of players holds the advantage. It’s the classic case of quality vs. quantity.
“If you look at Fordham from an outsider’s perspective, they’re probably more collectively talented than us,” Monken said. “They have a good football team because they have good players and they’re well-coached. They’re playing as a confident team, as they should.”
That confidence is based largely on the talent of not only record-setting quarterback Mike Nebrich, but his backup, Peter Maetzold. When Nebrich missed two games early this year after undergoing an appendectomy, Maetzold led the Rams to two victories, during which Fordham scored 67 points.
Then, when Nebrich suffered a knee contusion in the first half of last week’s game against Geogetown, Maetzold once again came up big in a 52-7 victory over Georgetown. In his 2 ½ games, Maetzold has completed almost 71 percent of his passes for 937 yards and eight touchdowns. Nebrich has completed a relatively mild 66 percent of his passes for 2,663 yards and 22 touchdowns. Nebrich is expected to play Saturday, but if needs some relief he’s got it.
The Rams score lots of points. They also don’t give up very many, averaging just under 20 per game — and that includes the 50 points they gave up to Villanova in their one loss.
“They are the No. 5 defense in FCS football, which is really impressive,” Monken said. “Less than 20 points per game and they average more than 43 points per game and over 500 yards of offense per game. That is a lot of yards in a football game and they have a lot of strengths. They have a lot of good players, they are well coached and well prepared and they have been consistent over the past two years.
“They were a playoff team last year and will be a playoff team this year. They are doing a really good job and are going to be a team that is more talented and bigger than us. That is not uncommon for us; it has been that way in every game we have played this year. We have got to play our best football, play our assignments and play with great technique and hope breaks go our way and make some of the breaks. Hopefully that will be enough to beat a really good football team.”
Navy awaits. But Fordham best not be overlooked.
The recent academic scandal at North Carolina surely brings to light similar aspersions cast at Army. A former Tar Heel football player, Michael McAdoo, was one of thousands from 1993 through 2011 to be given what are called “paper” classes at UNC at which class attendance wasn’t required and there was little or no work.
As for Army, the academy surely has a list of areas of study that can also be impugned. They include: Behavioral Science and Leadership; Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Physics and Nuclear Engineering; and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Uh, on the other hand, scratch that.