Welcome to Scouting Report, As For Football’s weekly Patreon-exclusive look at Army’s opponents. Scouting Report is designed to familiarize you with the Black Knights’ schedule while preparing you to argue the team’s strength-of-schedule concerns at your next event or tailgate.
We’re also doing Games and Locks of the Week at the end of this post. We meant for those to come out earlier in the week, but we got behind the chains. Anyway, Rob is a talented but inveterate gambler–we actually funded AFF last year on the back of his gambling winnings–so it’s a legit perk to share his picks. I’ve already seen his card this week, and folks, he really is rolling with these picks.
Go Army! Beat Michigan!!!
The Owls lost to Army 14-7, but they ran for 181 yards on just 31 carries and played great defense against the run. Rice’s biggest concern is that their quarterback is still completing just 50% of his passes, and if anything, they’re looking for him to do too much in the offense. However, if this team can mount a legitimate pass defense in their secondary, they ought to improve dramatically over last year’s two-win finish.
Rice’s next three games are all against Power 5 opponents. Win one of those, and a postseason bowl bid seems reasonably likely.
Although they struggled initially against Middle Tennessee State, the Wolverines were able to pull out a win. Michigan is in their first year under Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis and it showed. Starting QB Shea Patterson went 17/29 for 203 yards (58.6%) and 3 touchdowns. Throwing for three touchdowns is good; a Heisman Trophy candidate completing less than 60% of his passes is not.
Expect to see Patterson throw extensively to WRs Tarik Black and Nico Collins or to TE Sean McKeon. Those three collectively caught 9 balls for 166 yards against Middle Tennessee State. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones did not play last week and his return to face the Black Knights is questionable.
MTSU was able to get movement inside the tackles against Michigan’s defense but came up short when trying to stretch the field or run to the outside. LB Khaleke Hudson had 8 total tackles and LB Brad Hawkins placed second on the team with 7. Some have said the Michigan defense is undersized, but they make up for any potential lack of size with speed. Expect Army to have to run the midline option to sustain drives. Michigan is incredible effective on 3rd down defense, so Army will need good production on early downs, or they’ll play in four down territory the whole game.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) September 1, 2019
Roadrunners’ QB Frank Harris threw 3 touchdowns, pacing UTSA to a home opening win against in-town FCS rival Incarnate Word, 35-7. Harris finished 28/36 passing (77.8%) for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns with one interception. He also carried 15 times for a whopping 123 yards
The Roadrunners went 8/14 on 3rd down while racking up 490 yards of total offense against a clearly over-matched squad from the FCS. They rushed 47 times for 284 yards, an average of 6.0 yards/carry.
The Green Wave kicked off the season with an impressive win over Florida International, one of the better teams in Conference USA and a potential contender in the East alongside Marshall and Florida Atlantic. Tulane racked up 350 yards (7.1 ypc) on the ground and 199 through the air.
Willie Fritz’s Team looks to be hitting its stride in year three with a solid defense (allowed just 2.3 yards/carry) while LSU QB transfer Justin McMillan went 14/18 passing (77.8%). They will certainly go bowling again this year and look primed to challenge Memphis and Houston for the American Athletic Conference-West.
The first TD of the game
The first TD of the season
The first TD for TE @tyrick_james
— Tulane University Football (@GreenWaveFB) September 2, 2019
The Hilltoppers let FCS Central Arkansas score 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to drop their home opener in ignominious fashion, 35-28.
Game-ending collapse aside, the Hilltoppers weren’t bad, though they were very sloppy with the football. QB Steven Duncan went 26/39 passing (66.7%) for 304 yards and a 1 touchdown but also 2 picks. The Hilltoppers also ran 35 times for 184 yards (5.3 yards/carry) and 3 touchdowns. They were ahead by 14 points, but then the wheels came off. Don’t be surprised if they rebound this week and beat the Hell out of FIU on the road.
Entering this game as 25-point underdogs, the Panthers pulled off one of the most surprising upsets of Week 1. QB Dan Ellington threw for 2 touchdowns but just 139 total yards (45.8%!) while rushing for another 61 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Despite that rather pedestrian stat line, he led a spread option attack offense with veteran poise to secure the win. RB Tra Barnett led the rushing attack with 95 yards and 1 touchdown on 21 carries. That’s just 4.5 yards/carry, but GSU’s relentless rushing ground Tennessee’s defense into the dirt. The Volunteers’ defensive line was visibly exhausted by the end of the game.
GSU’s offensive scheme looked a lot like Tulane’s to be honest. It seems that more than one Group of 5 coach has noted the option’s success against Power 5 opponents.
On Defense, the Panthers allowed 404 total yards — 311 passing and 93 Rushing. They came up big in the second half, however, halting multiple Vol drives. In all they caused 1 fumble, 1 interception, turned Tennessee over twice on downs.
After leading the UpsetT, @Dan_CH14 is the #SunBeltFB Offensive Player of the Week!
— GSU Football (@GeorgiaStateFB) September 2, 2019
San Jose State
QB Josh Love, now in his third season as a starter, went 21/31 (67.7%) passing for 224 yards. The Spartans also brought true freshman QB Nick Nash in for one series, showing that the team may have a bit more depth than they showed in 2018. Nash is a running threat and became the Spartans’ leading ball carrier in that series, running for 4.8 yard/carry while his team held Northern Colorado to just 2.7 yards/carry.
Despite Nash’s performance, the Spartans are still struggling to run the ball effectively. They were last in the FBS a year ago.
Northern Colorado got a late field goal to cut the Spartan lead to ten, 28-18, but the game was never really in doubt. SJSU looks much improved, and after just one week, they’ve already tied their win record from 2018. Expect them to play teams tougher in 2019 and to win 3-5 games.
Air Force dominated the Colgate Raiders at Falcon Stadium. Coming off a bad Week 0 loss to Villanova, the Raiders just don’t look like the same squad they were a year ago. Among other things, they lost 25 seniors, 10 of whom were All-Conference players.
The Falcons pounded Colgate, putting up more than 230 yards of total offense and 35 points–in just the first half!
The Minutemen looked poised for the upset as the 1st Quarter ended. They led the Scarlet Knights 21-7, having put together three drives totaling 194 offensive yards. Alas, their offense stalled for the remainder of the game as Rutgers’ defense made some adjustments and then held the Minutemen to 307 total yards on the day. UMass senior QB Randall West went 20/31 passing for just 106 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
UMass’s defense gave up 48 points and 548 total yards of offense — 348 passing/ 206 rushing. 31 of those points came during an eventful second quarter.
Overall, first year Head Coach Walt Bell, formerly the offensive coordinator at Florida State, showed that his team might have some talent, but that they’ve also got very clear room for improvement.
The Rainbow Warriors had a bye in Week 1, but they put the nation of notice in Week 0 with a thrilling victory over Arizona as a double digit home underdog.
Standout QB Cole McDonald can be a legit playmaker, but in this particular game, he made plays for both teams. He finished 29/41 (70.7%) for 378 yards and 4 touchdowns, but he also threw 4 interceptions. After his fourth pick, Rolovich benched McDonald in favor of redshirt freshman QB Chevan Cordeiro, who went 5/7 (71.4%) for 58 yards and a go ahead touchdown off the bench. Maybe it’s the receivers. WRs Cedric Byrd II and JoJo Ward combined for almost 300 yards and 5 touchdowns. Both guys can FLY.
Hawai’i believes that they can play with and outscore anyone. They returned the nation’s fourth-most experienced team and will face their second of three straight Pac-12 opponents to open the season when they host Oregon State next week. Even so, the Rainbows are clearly contenders in the Mountain West-West along with San Diego State and Fresno State.
The Mids beat the holy Hell out of Holy Cross, 45-7. QB Malcolm Perry went 6/9 passing for 103 yards, no touchdowns, and no picks. Interestingly, he carried just 10 times for 28 yards.
I didn’t watch much of this one, but in the part I saw, Navy was running a lot of Speed Option outside. Perry made great reads, got the ball out to his slotbacks, and let them do the damage. The Mids wound up with 67 carries for 428 yards and 6 touchdowns. Nearly all of that came off pitch plays, both outside and back off the midline. On defense, Navy held Holy Cross to just 231 yards of total offense and 3/12 on 3rd down.
Yep, here are a bunch of the guys making plays this season!! Love working with this group and have so much respect for each of them! Humble and Hungry to get another W!!#AsMakePlays #TheBrotherhood #HoldTHEStandard #BEATarmy ⚓️ pic.twitter.com/mRCDkM8gPk
— Joe DuPaix (@CoachJoeDuPaix) September 2, 2019
Games & Locks of the Week: Week 2
Must-Watch Games of the Week
Saturday, 7:30 PM – #6 LSU (-6.5) at #9 Texas (ABC)
Saturday, 3:30 PM – #12 Texas A&M at #1 Clemson (-17) (ABC)
These are the big two as far as ranked versus ranked teams go. The first one will tell us a lot about a pair of teams with fringe CFB Playoff aspirations. The second is A&M’s first, and maybe best, chance to avoid postseason irrelevance.
Heading to Austin? Check out the timeline for the top-10 showdown against Texas!
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 5, 2019
Friday, 8:00 PM – Wake Forest at Rice (+17.5) (CBSSN)
Saturday, 12:00 PM – Cincinnati (+16) at #5 Ohio State (ABC)
Saturday, 11:59 PM – Oregon State at Hawaii (-5.5) (Stadium [Facebook])
The rooting interest here is more Army-specific. Is Rice good, or did Army just have an off-day? How good is Cincinnati and by association the rest of the American Athletic Conference?
How good is Hawai’i?!
We know you’re excited for the return of @RiceFootball this weekend. Trust us, we are too!
Follow this thread to see all the ticket deals we have going on and pick the one that works for you!
See Thread ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/jEMmqLh6cY
— Rice Athletics (@RiceAthletics) September 4, 2019
Locks of the Week
Rob: Army (+23) at Michigan
If you don’t count the last drive where Michigan knelt to end the game, the Wolverines had 14 drives against Middle Tennessee State last week. Last year, Army held the most explosive offense in the country to seven possessions and 21 points in regulation. Now Army faces a less explosive offense, one that is 81st nationally on 3rd down. Oh yeah, their quarterback is already nicked up.
Give me the Cadets +23.
Wake Forest at Rice (+19)
I learned last week that Rice is better than people think. Wake Forest’s defense is suspect. Now they go on the road on a Friday night.
The Deacons absolutely stomped Rice last year and may be looking ahead to North Carolina. Additionally, this may be the most winnable game for Rice to start the year as they face Texas and Baylor over the next two weeks. I’ll take the Owls and the points at home as they fight to prevent an 0-4 start.
Dan: BYU at Tennessee (-3.5)
Tennessee got a Hell of a wake-up call at home against Georgia State. But this Vols team still has astronomically more talent than BYU.
Another disappointment might get this coaching staff fired before SEC Conference play even begins. That won’t happen. Expect an entirely more focused, more disciplined team to take the field this Saturday.
This one’s not close. Give me the Vols against a decidedly manageable point-spread.