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Key matchups: Army vs. La. Tech
The fifth game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 150, 1-3) and the Conference USA - West, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Sagarin 119, 1-3.) Army leads the all-time series 1-0, as Army beat the Bulldogs 14-7 in 2008. Both teams are looking for their first win against an FBS opponent this year and coming off disappointing losses. A win puts the winning team within a game of .500 and a loss pits the loser with a close to insurmountable 1-4 record.
At Michie – If you wanted to know what your grandfather's football looked like, last week's game came as close to what football looked like in the 1930's as you can find in FBS football today. The quality of play was horrendous on both sides. Josh Harris rushed for two touchdowns in the second half and The Demon Deacons from Wake Forest came from behind to win, 25-11.
We were hoping for an Army team with fresh enthusiasm after a great effort against Stanford. What we got was a team that looked mentally and physically exhausted, especially on offense. While the defense played well, the offense was horrendous. As a result, Army missed a tremendous opportunity to beat a below average ACC team. Instead, the Black Knights displayed all the attributes that have become all too familiar in the Rich Ellerson era– penalties, fumbles, busted plays, bad clock management, just plain bad decision making, you name it…Army did it. In fact, at times during this game, the Army offense was so sloppy that you wondered if they practiced at all in the week leading up to this game. Watching the team play in person, you also start to wonder what purpose it serves to continue to utilize the sideline flashcard system for calling plays. If the purpose was to keep opponents from substituting D linemen in order to wear them down, it seems that strategy is completely outweighed by the silly unforced errors the offense constantly makes nearly every single game – the false starts, the illegal motions, the fumbled exchanges. Has anyone considered the possibility that huddling up might reduce some of these needless drive-killing mistakes?
Terry Baggett showed that he is the real deal, displaying speed, power and athleticism as he rushed for 125 yards on 16 carries. He also caught a pass for 22 yards. He is clearly is the best athlete Army has and Ian Shields needs to make every effort to get him the ball. Wake Forest did a great job of stuffing the middle and marginalizing the full-back as Trenton Turrentine and Hayden Tippett were held to 70 yards on 15 carries. The real frustration was at quarterback. Angel Santiago once again had difficulty getting the offense moving and was replaced by A.J. Schurr. Schurr fumbled the ball twice in a total of five plays. He did have one nice pass for 22 yards to Baggett. Santiago started the second half and the offense was not productive. One of the drives started at the Wake Forest 36 as the result of a bad punt and the offense could only drive 21 yards. Freshman Kelvin White assumed Schurr's normal mop up roll on the final drive and looked good, displaying some promising passing skills, at a point in the game when it did not matter.
The Army defense continues to improve. The Cadets gave up 360 total yards on defense, but only allowed scores on four of twelve drives. They forced a safety, an interception and recovered a fumble. The team put pressure on Wake Forest's Tanner Price in the first half and limited the Demon Deacons to 10 points in the first half. Three of Wake Forest's drives started in Army territory (25, 28 and 40). Josh Jenkins made another great interception in the end zone. Thomas Holloway had nine tackles (two for a loss) and Julian Holloway had seven tackles (one for a loss.) Geoffery Bacon only had four tackles, but the Wake Forest rushing offense was definitely more productive when he was out of the game.
Sophomore Daniel Grochowski was 3 for 3 in field goal attempts and Alex Tardieu averaged nearly 48 yards over five punts.
In Lawrence, Kansas – The Bulldogs amassed 443 yards, but turned the ball over three times, and lost to Kansas for the Jayhawks' first victory against an FBS opponent in two seasons, 13-10.
Freshman Quarterback Ryan Higgins was 35 for 55 for 289 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Sophomore Running Back Kenneth Dixon ran for 129 yards on 18 carries. Sophomore Kyle Fischer was 1/3 in field goal attempts, converting from 39 yards, but missing from 40 and 37 yards.
Who is favored?
This game is a Pick'em
What to look for?
This will be a very interesting game as one of these very weak teams must win. The game will be played in the Cotton Bowl and there is likely be fewer than 15,000 fans at the game. While the Bulldogs are the home team, Army may actually bring more fans.
For Army to be competitive, the fullback dive must work. Ian Shields and company have proven to be incapable of creating a winning game plan or to adjust accordingly when an opponent is able to take away the fullback dive. Like it or not, it is their bread and butter play, and it sets up everything else that they try to do. If they continue to get the fullback dive stuffed, or if they continue to mess up the QB-Fullback exchange and put the ball on the ground, they won't be able to beat anyone. In watching Louisiana Tech, it seems as though Dixon should have a good day. If Dixon has a good day, Maples and Baggett should follow. We imagine that Angel Santiago will start the game and stay in as long as the offense is effective. Schurr, if he gets in, could have a very good game if he is able to hold onto the ball.
The Bulldogs run the spread option which Army has seen three times this year. The Bulldogs throw a lot of short passes to the flat. They gain a lot of yards, but struggle to score once the field gets shorter. We expect a big day from Geoffery Bacon and we would love to see Jenkins get another interception. Junior Quarterback Scotty Young was out against Kansas with a rib injury and is questionable for Saturday. The Bulldog offense is better with him playing.
This is going to be a game where Army is not physically outmatched and they should be able to run the ball, which gives them a chance. They need to minimize fumbles and win the turnover battle. Army has not won on the road in two years – will this be the game where they break through and end their 13 game losing streak away from Michie Stadium? We hope so.
Final Score – Army 28 – Louisiana Tech 24 (predictions in 2013, 2-2)
Game will be shown on Fox Sports 1 @ 4:00 PM EST.
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