Key matchups: Army vs. Eastern Michigan

Key matchups: Army vs. Eastern Michigan

The seventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 117, 2-4) and Middle American Conference West Eastern Michigan Eagles (Sagarin 186, 1-4.) Army leads the all-time series 4-1, however last year the Eagles prevailed 48-38 in Ypsilanti, MI. Army hopes to rebound from a quasi-beat down in Boston.

Background
The seventh game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 117, 2-4) and Middle American Conference West Eastern Michigan Eagles (Sagarin 186, 1-4.) Army leads the all-time series 4-1, however last year the Eagles prevailed 48-38 in Ypsilanti, MI. Army hopes to rebound from a quasi-beat down in Boston. With such a weak schedule, Army may actually make it to the Poinsettia Bowl, but they need to win their next three games, which makes this game a must win. The Eagles look to win their first game against an FBS opponent this year.

Last Week
In Boston, MA – There was much national news in the week leading up to this game as to whether or not the Department of Defense would allow the Cadets to play this game. However, the Eagles wanted this game so badly for their own bowl eligibility that they were willing to give the Cadets a ride to Boston. They put a completely expected physical beatdown on the Army defense. Andre Williams had a big day, as we forecasted, gaining 263 yards on 30 carries and five touchdowns, leading the Eagles past the Black Knights 48-27.

It is a seldom game when the Army team gives up 523 total yards, loses by 21 points and we walk away encouraged. The offense actually looked great. Angel Santiago started the game and moved the offense well, leading the team to score on four of five first half possessions. Keeping the momentum from the Louisiana Tech game, he pitched early and often allowing the Black Knight running backs to get to the outside and create some space inside. Santiago, Trenton Turrentine, Hayden Tippet, Terry Bagget all contributed to a solid offensive showing. Ian Shields also called a flea-flicker, which resulted in a 75-yard touchdown to Xavier Moss. He even called a reverse, that did not really work, but at least he called one. The offensive party ended when Santiago went out with a hurt ankle on Army's last drive of the half. On the day, Santiago was two for three for 82 yards and a touchdown and he rushed seven times for 18 yards.

Santiago's and AJ Schur's injuries allowed us to see Kelvin White for nearly the entire second half. While he performed admirably for a third string quarterback, and although he threw the ball extremely well, there was a drop off in production as the game wore on. White completed three of eight passes for 19 yards and rushed 11 times for 27 yards. The lone Army score behind White, was Larry Dixon's 80 yards scamper on Army's first possession of the second half that pulled Army to within four points. Dixon again showed break-away speed and was truly exciting.

Army had no fumbles nor interceptions while playing on the road – is this a huge improvement.

The defensive effort was less praiseworthy. Andre Williams looked like a Heisman Candidate and came close to breaking several Boston College rushing records. Chase Rettig was 11 for 13 for 203 yards and a touchdown. Albeit Geoffrey Bacon did not play due to an injury and Josh Jenkins was not allowed to participate in the first half, this was simply the case of a bigger and faster team beating up on the smaller Army Team. Last year, the Eagles dropped several passes and committed a couple penalties at inopportune times to keep Army in the game, but that was not on Coach Steve Addazio's watch; they played hard and well this time. Army will continue to have defensive performances like this until they get bigger, stronger and faster. Until then, they will have to try to create turnovers and win the time of possession.

We do need to mention that the Holloway brothers (they are not really related) had 10 tackles each. Hayden Pierce and Shawn Tolbert had eight and seven tackles respectively.

In Buffalo, the Bison gained 452 total yards, 228 yards rushing on 45 attempts as they cruised to an easy victory of the Eastern Michigan Eagles 42-14.

Tyler Benz was 12 of 19 passing for 157 yards and a touchdown. Bronson Hill had 57 yards on 14 attempts.

Who is favored?
Army is favored by 7 ½ points.

What to look for?
Eastern Michigan ranks 114th in points for (17) and 114th in points against (38). They average 336 total yards a game while giving up 445 yards per game.

This is roughly the same squad that Army played last year. In that game, the Eagles gained 577 total yards on Army. Benz was 19/31 for 369 yards and five touchdown passes. Hill gained 185 yards on 26 carries. Army lost two fumbles.

At the conclusion of this game, you will be able to determine if Army has improved in 12 months. We feel that Army has improved on both sides of the ball. While the offense lacks Trent Steelman, his absence has resulted in better ball distribution to playmakers like Baggett, Dixon and Moss. The coaching staff is beginning to get a little more creative in stretching the opposing defenses. The Army defense is getting better, led by Bacon and the Holloways, and Freshman Jenkins does a very good job lining up single coverage against the opponent's best receiver. However, it is obvious that the front seven is still not big enough to hold up against any team that can run with power between the tackles. We certainly would not be surprised if Eastern Michigan tries spreading the Army D out with three and four receiver sets, and then running a lot inside against Army's still too small front seven. However, unlike BC, we don't believe Eastern Michigan has the personnel advantage against the Army D to be successful with this approach.

Army should be able to move the ball, score often and not commit an excessive number of turnovers. We think the real difference will come on the defense, where they will have to contain the run and force turnovers in the Eagle passing game.

We think that this Army team is better than last year, and they will show it Saturday.

Final Score – Army 35 – Eastern Michigan 14 (predictions in 2013, 4-2)

Game will be shown on CBSSN @ 12:00 PM EST.

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