Alright Fans of the Brave Ole Army Team it’s time to breeze through this article like you used to scan the New York Times in the Mess Hall so that you had something to report to Cadet Sergeant Smith come lunch formation. Reading this article should give you a few talking points to chum it up with the Colonel at the Battalion Christmas Party. You may have just finished gobbling down TEE Rats and are looking to blow off steam before your last final. Go ahead and enjoy this article before you’re stuck talking to another cadet in line at the LGA Cinnabon who’s wearing his ACU Assault Pack. Please don’t follow Shia Lebeouf’s example.
So here is the BLUF: San Diego State is good…like really good. They already have 10 victories on the season with wins over #13 Stanford (ranked #19 at the time) and Arizona State. Their two losses have come against #25 Boise State and Fresno State. If you haven’t followed those two teams, then here is what you need to know. Boise (ranked #23 at the time) lost to Fresno in their last regular season game in Week 13. The two teams met again the very next week in the Mountain West Championship where Boise State took revenge beating then ranked #25 Fresno.
San Diego State has three consecutive seasons with double-digit wins. I bet you don’t know anything about their running back, do you? He’s like that guy you see sitting at the other end of your table during 500th night and you think “I didn’t know he was in our company.”
Similar to those ghost-like cadets, Rashaad Penny is an under the radar talent because of where he goes to school. He finished fifth in the Heisman Voting, has rushed for over 2,000 yards, and is a consensus All-American. He has also rushed for over 200 yards in the Aztec’s last four games.
What do the Statistics Say?
On the Defensive side of the ball, San Diego State Ranks 13th Nationally in total yards allowed against teams with winning records and they give up about 25 points per game. The Black Knights have only played two teams with winning records: Ohio State and North Texas. The Ohio State loss speaks for itself and North Texas’s QB burned our secondary as bad as your Company Activities Officer burned those Bubba Burgers. Needless to say, the stats are a little inflated. So for the purpose of this exercise where I attempt to double underline the answer on which team is bettering according to statistics using my PH201 formula sheet and a #2 pencil, I will be including all the 6-6 teams that the Cadets beat which include: Buffalo, Temple, Duke, and Navy (Read the Beat Navy Recap Here). Even with these new teams factored in, the Cadets are still giving up 27 points and a dismal 439 yards per game. More on this under the eyeball test.
Although their defense is better than ours, we offset their advantage with a better performing offense (given that it’s been against an easier schedule). The Aztecs only average 20 points per game compared to the Black Knights 24. We are #1 in the nation on third down and convert about 10% more attempts than they do. Another thing that has helped us all year long is our Red Zone scoring percentage. 87% of the time that we enter the Red Zone, we come away with points. Just like you used to ask how your laundry bag came back with 11 socks, you might ask yourself how does the Army Team consistently outscore opponents while almost always totaling fewer total yards? The answer is simple. When we get in the Red Zone we’re not kicking field goals. Remember that guy that sat beside you in MILART who didn’t settle for an average participation grade and answered every question without consideration for those of us who didn’t do the reading? The Black Knights are that guy, we don’t settle for average when we get in the red zone.
On the defensive side of the ball, since the return of Army’s senior safety Rhyan England and sophomore cornerback Elijah Riley during the Air Force game, the Black Knights defense has held opponents to only 307 yards per game. That’s a lot better than the yardage that I mentioned above. Although the sample size is small, the four opponents (Air Force, Duke, North Texas, and Navy) have a combined record of 25-22. The Army Defense isn’t going to be able to shut down San Diego State, but with the way that they’ve been playing it could be just enough.
As you may have inferred from the statistics section, we will have to rely on the offense to help us win the game. Statistics aside, I think we match up pretty evenly with the Aztecs offensively. We have been good all year long and our offense does not revolve around an individual. Rashaad Perry is the cadet who was on quarters when you all divided the PE450 capstone group project work. He accounts for 41% of the Aztec’s total yards.
The boys from the west coast have had almost 30 days off, which will be both a bad and good thing. Schematically they should be able to slow down our offense better, but since they haven’t played football in a while I expect to see some sloppy play on their behalf. Procedural penalties and a turnover or two would be nice. Hopefully, the negatives outweigh the positives so the plebes can get more fallout privileges…haha not. Also, the Aztec’s probably aren’t thrilled to be playing a service academy in the Armed Forces Bowl. They were really close to winning their conference and getting to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Mountain West’s best tie-in against PAC-12.
We have to slow down Rashaad Perry. The Asbestos in Hayes Gym is a perfect example that the Black Knights should follow. It has slowed down thousands of Cadets during the IOCT for years. Hopefully, Rashaad Perry gets a High Zero! The Army Offense needs to put up some points and take care of the football the same way you would your SOSH Paper at 15:57 en route to Lincoln Hall. Bradshaw must make sure that we get into the Red Zone on as many drives as possible. Once there, the Cadets must finish the drive with a touchdown. Although the San Deigo State defense is pretty good, I think Jolly Ole Saint Monken will have some new Christmas plays to pull out of his bag. The winning formula is quite simple: Win the turnover battle, keep their defense off the field, finish drives, and catch one big break. Vegas has us as seven-point dogs and ESPN is only giving us a 39.6% chance of winning. If we don’t let the Navy victory hangover linger for too long and stick to the formula, I’m confident the Sons of Slum and Gravy will be victorious.
Take Army and the Points. Cadets win anyways 35-31