Army's defense humbled by 52-point showing against North Texas
By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: November 23, 2017
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Complacency caused Army's defense to allow its most points in 37 games at North Texas on Saturday, senior safety Rhyan England said.
England pointed to the practices leading up to the 52-49 loss as part of the issue.
Mason Fine made Army's secondary pay for shaky coverage by throwing for 386 yards, the most by a quarterback against the Black Knights since Buffalo's Joe Licata (401) in the 2014 season opener.
Three penalties, which resulted in first downs for North Texas, added to the struggle.
"There were a couple of stupid plays, a couple of personal fouls and that doesn't correlate to our team or who we are as individuals," England said. "I think we were caught up in the moment. It hindered our defense from performing the best that we could. Our fundamentals were awful. I don't think we were playing together as a team. I personally put that loss on the defense."
The effort came as somewhat of a shock considering how well Army's defense had played in the last three games. The Black Knights had allowed 30 points in its last 10 quarters.
"We just made so many mistakes and didn't play our brand of football with the late hits, the foolish penalties and the mental errors," senior linebacker Alex Aukerman said. "That's not what we preach here. Maybe it was practice last week. But just going out there for game time, we didn't flip that switch and really stay focused. I think it was a lack of focus at times, not keying the right players."
Coach Jeff Monken said the defense's performance came down to assignments and fundamentals.
"Getting beat on a post route, it's either poor positioning or putting your eyes in the backfield when they are not supposed to be or poor fundamentals on your turn," Monken said. "Not staying in our rush lane on a pass rush. Not making a tackle. I don't know if it's lack of focus."
Humbling was a buzzword used Tuesday after Army's first practice since the loss. The defense's next assignment will test the unit's ability to rebound against a completely different scheme, Navy's run-based triple option on Dec. 9 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
"We definitely learned from it (the North Texas loss)," England said. "A couple of the younger guys learned it's not easy winning games. We definitely grew from that experience and we are going to get ready for Navy."
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