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Super Late Thoughts: Michigan

Don’t know how Army football players moved on Sunday after the double-overtime thriller at Michigan.

Still processing the 24-21 loss at The Big House. And, yes, it’s the following Saturday. Apologies for the super-late post.

For the second straight season, Army put the college football world on notice, taking a Top 10 team to the brink.

This was the only game on the schedule that would take the program to the next level. A win over Michigan should have been the first and most important step toward a New Year’s Six Bowl. 

The Black Knights just couldn’t deliver the knockout blow Saturday in Ann Arbor.

There were more opportunities to put away Michigan than there were at Oklahoma a year ago.

Army was a yard away for two-touchdown lead in the third quarter with potentially three plays to reach the end zone. If the Black Knights came away with a field goal, it was probably going to be enough the way Michigan’s offense was playing. But, Army called a pass on 3rd-and-goal from the 6 following a timeout and Kelvin Hopkins threw an interception under pressure. The Black Knights had second-string quarterback Jabari Laws line up as a fullback on the play and no one covered Laws in the flat.

Army’s final drive at regulation stalled inside Michigan’s 35. Cole Talley’s 50-yard field goal was a few yards short and wide right. Jeff Monken said Talley’s leg tightened up in the second half.

The Black Knights’ possession in the second overtime, needing a touchdown for the win, was derailed on a second-down play that Kelvin Hopkins lost two yards on. Army called a pass play on third down for Michigan’s 26 and Hopkins was stripped of the ball, ending the Black Knights’ upset bid. Surprised Army didn’t run the ball and try a field goal of outside 40 yards. Maybe, Talley’s injury played into the call.

Can’t ask anymore of Army’s defense for the second straight week. Holding Michigan to 14 points in regulation and running back Zach Charbonnet to 3 yards per carry is quite an accomplishment. The defensive line of Kwabena Bonsu, Jacob Covington and Edriece Patterson were able to hold at the point of attack. Patterson was solid in his first game, following injury.

Cornerback Elijah Riley was outstanding and impacted the game beyond his statistics – 13 tackles, 2 sacks, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Riley was twice called for pass interference, which could have gone either way.

Army’s secondary was down two starters with Jaylon McClinton banged up and Javhari Bourdeau’s controversial ejection for targeting in the later stage and still held Michigan to a field goal in double overtime. Michigan threw at Jabari Moore twice in double overtime and the freshman cornerback held up in coverage.

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