Phew! Too close for comfort doesn’t begin to do that game justice. But as Coach Monken said, the Army Team made enough plays to get the win.
Make no mistake, that was a good Western Kentucky team. In fact, this Hilltopper squad is probably the best they’ve been since the departure of current Purdue Head Coach Jeff Brohm five years ago. They have a real shot at the C-USA East title.
Army Black Knights
The big unanswered question from the Georgia State game was answered swiftly this week by QB Christian Anderson and the Black Knights’ offense. Army’s average touchdown drive two weeks ago started in plus territory. This week, the average was 67 yards including two touchback-to-touchdown drives.
When the 4th quarter ended, Army had just three drives that did not end in touchdowns. The first drive of the game ended in a fumble. Later, up by 14 with under seven minutes to go, Army turned the ball over on downs on the WKU 36-yard-line. Finally, K Cole Talley hit a 31 yard field goal to seal the victory.
Offensive Coordinator Brent Davis had himself a game, folks. Army’s offense is for real.
The defense looked phenomenal against Georgia State last week. We only worried that Georgia State’s lack of execution made it easy at times. Well, Army’s defense didn’t have to worry about that this week. QB Bailey Zappe and the rest of the Houston Baptist, ahem Western Kentucky, offense continued their onslaught on the NCAA’s passing record books.
The Army secondary allowed fully 435 yards through the air. The defensive unit did a great job against the run, allowing only 2.2 yards/rush. However, they gave up 11 yards/attempt through the air and 15.5 yards/completion. It’s hard to blame that on the pass rush. Army had 3 sacks, 4 tackles-for-loss, and 3 additional quarterback hurries. If there’s one mark against this team’s defense, it’s that they haven’t quite proven themselves in coverage yet against superior passing teams. We may well see that again if they can’t get it fixed.
Special Teams Coordinator Sean Saturnio has Army’s special teams unit back to the kind of excellence of execution that we’re used to seeing. Army deflected a punt, went 1/1 on field goals, and finished 5/5 on extra points. Special teams also recovered 3 crucial onside kicks to finish out this game.
Of note: Army didn’t punt.
There’s not a lot to preview here, folks. UConn Head Coach Randy Edsall announced his retirement for the end of the season following the Huskies’ ugly-looking loss to FCS Holy Cross. The university then fired him anyway and named Defensive Coordinator Lou Spanos as the interim head coach.
UConn was not a good team before. Now they are a bad team with staffing problems and general disarray.
If UConn scores against Army, it will mark the Huskies’ first points against an FBS opponent since November 30, 2019. The Huskies didn’t play last season, and they haven’t scored a point against an FBS foe this year. They did score 28 points in a losing effort against the defending Patriot League Champions Holy Cross. Against teams not named Holy Cross, however, they’ve averaged just 165 yards of offense per game. Vegas predicts the Huskies will score about a touchdown this week, but honestly, that would be something of a surprise. The Huskies hit a handful of big passing plays last week against Purdue, but they absolutely could not sustain any kind of offense for more than a handful of plays.
UConn quarterbacks are a combined 45/96 (47%) for 335 yards. They’ve thrown more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3). Really, the only offensive player of note is RB Kevin Mensah, a super-senior with two 1,000 yard rushing seasons under his belt.
If this game ends up being close, it will be because UConn somehow found a way to stunt the Army offense (think: the Citadel in 2020). The only run-heavy team UConn has faced so far is Holy Cross, though in fairness, the Crusaders are actually pretty balanced on offense. Even so, the Huskies gave up fully 229 yards rushing to an FCS school.
UConn’s defense is still probably better than its offense, and its rushing defense is probably better than its passing defense. Even so, the rushing defense is still allowing 4.3 yards/carry. Thus, if everything goes according to plan, Army QB Christian Anderson might only play a few series before taking the rest of the afternoon off.
UConn Punter Hadyn Kerr averages 37 yards/punt. That’s not what you want from a team that winds up punting as often as this one does.
This game should not be close. But sometimes a good old fashioned shellacking is good for the soul. After special teams woes in Army’s first game and a late comeback attempt in its second, it would be nice if my blood pressure could remain normal for this one.
We’re back to a normal noon kickoff this week on CBS Sports. If you tune in early, you might even catch some professional cornhole.
Go Army! Beat UConn!!!
* Cover image via USMA Flickr.