Head-to-head: Army vs. Tulane

Head-to-head: Army vs. Tulane

Army travels to New Orleans to face Tulane on Saturday. Army had visions of a Mardi Gras at Michie as they led Temple in second half by 15 points. Temple scored 29 consecutive points to dash the Black Knights' upset hopes. While Army missed its chance for a signature win, Tulane is fresh off its biggest wins in years after they upset Rutgers, 17-14.

Last year Tulane defeated Army at Michie Stadium 17-16 when Alex Carlton's last second 37-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.

ARMY
EDGE
AREA
Tulane
EDGE
COMMENTS
 
Army rushing offense
vs.
Tulane rushing defense
 
Army's running game is ranked ninth in nation averaging over 266 yards a game. The Black Knights ran for 235 yards, averaged 4.1 a carry and scored four touchdowns against Temple last Saturday. Trent Steelman scored a career high four touchdowns as he rushed for 65 yards. Steelman showed terrific leg strength in breaking tackles on two touchdowns. "B "back Jared Hassin looked good after battling injuries the last few weeks. Hassin rushed for 58 yards on twelve carries. Malcolm Brown had a good game rushing for 71 yards on twelve carries. There were some breakdowns in perimeter blocking against Temple's athletic defense. The running game struggled down the stretch during Temple's late second half comeback. Tulane is ranked a solid 46th in nation in defense and 33rd in rush defense. Senior Justin Adams is an undersized but a very active defensive tackle with 21 tackles this year. The Green Wave's middle linebacker Trent Mackey is a redshirt sophomore who transferred from Duke. Mackey is a tough, very aggressive linebacker who leads Tulane with 48 tackles. Rutgers averaged 4.5 a carry against Tulane last week. Mackey is playing with an ankle injury but it hasn't slowed him down.  
 
Army passing offense
vs.
Tulane passing defense
 
Trent Steelman completed 9 of 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown against Temple. Austin Barr had a 31-yard touchdown pass for the second consecutive game. Malcolm Brown caught two passes for 33 yards. He set up Army's last touchdown when he drew a pass interference penalty. Jared Hassin had three catches and a 23-yard catch and run on Army's opening touchdown drive. Wide receiver Davyd Brooks was once again a disappointing non-factor. Army's offensive line struggled to protect Steelman especially late in game when the Black Knights were forced to pass. Overall Army's passing game was solid. Steelman made excellent decisions to throw the ball away at times and showed good pocket awareness on last drive. Army did score in its two minute offense. Tulane's best player is sophomore free safety Shakiel Smith. Smith has 31 tackles and an interception this year. Senior cornerback Phillip Davis has already picked off two passes. Just like Army, the Green Wave relies on their ability to pressure the passer to limit the opposing passing game. Defensive tackle Julius Adams leads the team with 4.5 sacks. The Green Wave ranks an impressive eleventh in the nation in sacks. Defensive end Dezman Moses missed the first two games because of a suspension. In his two starts Moses has posted 16 tackles and three sacks. Former Army three star recruit Julius Warmsley, who played for USMAPS in 2009, started the first two games in Moses absence and only recorded an assisted tackle. If the Green Wave can force Army into third-and-long, Tulane's ability to rush the quarterback will cause Army problems.  
 
Tulane rushing offense
vs.
Army rushing defense
 
Tulane has struggled running the ball averaging less than 90 yards a game. Payten Jason saw most of the carries against Rutgers but only averages 2.6 an attempt. The most impressive running back for the Green Wave has been freshman Orleans Darkwa who has four rushing touchdowns and averages 4.8 yards a carry. Darkwa was heavily recruited by Army and received an offer from the Black Knights before choosing Tulane this spring. Darkwa missed the Rutgers game with an injury and is questionable for Saturday. Huge senior left tackle Pete Hendrickson (6-8, 314) and center Andrew Nierman are all conference performers on what is a rather unimposing line. Wide receiver D.J. Banks plays quarterback and runs the offense out of the wildcat formation a few series a game. His touchdown pass beat Rutgers on Saturday. Army struggled against Temple's massive offensive line which dominated them at the point of attack. The Black Knights allowed Matt Brown to rush for 226 yards and four touchdowns. Army was able to force three punts in the first half but when the Black Knights' offense faltered in second half it kept them on the field too long. Army's leading tackler Stephen Anderson, who had 39 tackles, missed a key tackle against Tulane late in the game last year. Anderson had Green Wave running back Andre Anderson in his gasp behind the line of scrimmage only to see him shake free for a 42-yard run that set up the game winning field goal. Army's defense has struggled mightily against the two rushing teams it has faced this year but Tulane ranks just 107th in the nation in rushing this year and is probably missing their most talent running back for Saturday. There doesn't appear to be any Matt Browns sitting on Tulane's bench.  
 
Tulane passing offense
vs.
Army passing defense
 
Tulane's passing offense averages less than 200 yards a game. Starting quarterback Ryan Griffin threw for 140 yards in the win over Rutgers despite playing with an injured shoulder. On the season Griffen has used a short passing game to complete 64.1 percent of his throws. Griffen has failed to throw a touchdown pass against two interceptions. Wide receiver Casey Robottom and tight end Cody Sparks both recorded six catches in the win over Rutgers. Robottom's leads the team with 23 catches but averages only 9.5 yards a catch and has no touchdowns. Tulane lost its best weapon when star receiver Jeremy Williams, who scored a touchdown against the Black Knights last year, graduated. Tulane has struggled to protect its quarterbacks and ranks a dismal 96th in the nation in sacks allowed. Two Green Wave quarterbacks have been hurt this year. Army has only posted one sack in the last two games. Josh McNary had his quietest day of the season against Temple. McNary did pressure the Owl's quarterback, Stewart, a few times but ended the day with just two tackles. McNary should do well in this matchup. While there were a few ugly plays, the cornerback play wasn't as poor on paper as it looked. Stewart completed only 7 of 16 passes for 127 yards. Tulane doesn't possess the speed at wide receiver that Temple does to exploit Army's Cover One scheme deep.  
Special Teams
 
Tulane has an outstanding punter in freshman Jonathan Ginsberg who had a 71-yard punt last week. Ginsberg has had an outstanding season averaging 43 yards a punt. He has hit six punts over 50 yards, has pinned seven punts inside the 20 and forced five fair catches. Cario Santos has hit six of seven field goal attempts this year. Casey Robottom is a good punt returner averaging 8.4 yards per return. Army punter Jonathan Bulls had a career long 69-yard punt to the two-yard-line in the first half against Temple. Bulls averaged over 45 yards a punt despite having to field one bouncing snap that he did a nice job getting off. Kicker Alex Carlton is just two of seven on year and maybe kicking for his job this week. Josh Jackson nearly broke two punt returns. Army did a terrific job on punt coverage. Army held the Owls punt returners to less than a yard in two returns. The kickoff coverage struggled against Temple's explosive return man James Nixon. Nixon had a kickoff return touchdown called back. Nixon had another kickoff return for 51 yards. Justin Schafer had a roughing the punter penalty. Donovan Travis forced a fumble on the opening kickoff that set up Army's first touchdown.  
 
Coaching
 
Rich Ellerson and the staff realized the challenge against Temple's huge offensive line and tried to counter it with more size on the field against the Owls. The Black Knights started Chris Swain at tackle and moved Jarrett Mackey to whip linebacker. The Owls wore down the defense in the second half. Ian Shields' offense once again impressed by scoring 35 points against a defense that held Penn State the week before to 22 points in Happy Valley. Former UCLA coach Bob Toledo faces a difficult rebuilding job of coaching at an academically challenging school within Conference USA. It's one of the reasons Army left that conference years ago. While the victory over Rutgers was a huge win for his program, Toledo is just 11-29 at Tulane. Toledo is known for running creative fakes and option passes like he used to defeat Rutgers.  
EVEN  
Intangibles
EVEN  
Tulane is coming home to New Orleans after their biggest win in years against Rutgers on the road. The fact that this is their homecoming game means they probably won't experience a letdown at home. The Black Knights had the better of the play all afternoon last year at Michie but let Tulane hang around. With a late field goal the Green Wave took the lead. Army drove down to set up a makeable 37-yard field goal attempt which Alex Carlton pushed wide right.  

PREDICTION: Army, 31-20. Last year was the one that got away. No we're not speaking about Julius Warmsley who left USMAPS to join Tulane. Last year's loss to the Green Wave was a bitter pill for all Army fans. The Black Knights looked to be the better team and that loss cost Army a bowl appearance. Tulane lost most of their best offensive players from last year while Army has improved on offense.

See what Army fans are saying about this upcoming game in the ArmySports.com Black Knight's Alley FORUM.

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