Well that felt good. But now comes the hard part. Army takes on teams out of the heartland, followed by a good Wake Forest team coming off a bye week. That starts this week with Miami of Ohio.
Don’t let Miami’s 1-2 record fool you. This team is sneaky good. Their two losses are to Cincinnati and Minnesota. And the RedHawks covered the spread in the Minnesota game.
Let’s get to the preview!
Army Black Knights
The starting offense scored 5 touchdowns on 5 drives. The backups had 2 touchdowns, 1 field goal and 1 turnover on downs. Together, they accounted for over 500 yards of total offense with nearly 400 yards rushing. That was good for nearly 6 yards per carry!
The offense didn’t have any turnovers or penalties. They looked clean the entire afternoon. UConn did something a little different to stop the dive option. Instead of moving the linebackers up toward the line of scrimmage, they moved them together toward the middle of the field. That move left the perimeter wide open. And the A backs had themselves a first half. Eventually, UConn moved out, and the B backs picked up where the A backs left off. It’s worth nothing that when Tyrell Robinson broke out for a 70 yard touchdown run, it was through the A gap, splitting UConn’s middle linebackers.
Going forward, there are very few questions about the offense. They continue to be one of the most efficient and controlling in the country. The only question may be depth along the offensive line. But the backups got good reps this week which could pay dividends later in the season.
If you just look at the final score, you might question Army’s defensive performance against a bad UConn team. But upon closer analysis, the starters forced two punts, two turnovers on downs, and DB Marquel Broughton absolutely ballhawked an interception — his second in as many weeks.
Then the JV team allowed 2 touchdowns on two drives plus a the kick return. But that’s what happens when you pull your starters. I’m betting a lot of these guys were playing scout team in practice this week. However, the experience those backups got was extremely valuable.
Army currently has the fewest punts in the FBS with 2. They’re the only team averaging less than one punt per game.
K Cole Talley was 4/4 on extra points. K Quinn Maretzki went 3/3 after that. He also hit a 28 yard field goal in the 4th quarter.
The only special teams snag was when UConn returned a touchdown — almost two! — for a touchdown. But as we’ve discussed, the players on the field were mostly plebes.
Miami (OH) RedHawks
This one’s tricky. The RedHawk offense put up 26 points against Minnesota, and they average 380 yards/game. That includes 213 yards passing/game. That might look a little scary to an Army defense who’s secondary didn’t exactly inspire confidence against Western Kentucky.
Miami’s success has come from their offensive line and from QB Brett Gabbert, who runs well and isn’t afraid to throw deep. Even against Power 5 competition, the RedHawks have allowed just 1 sack/game. This, combined with the RedHawks’ commitment to running the football, means that Army’s defensive line will likely have their toughest test so far.
Unfortunately, Gabbert’s completion percentage is just 53.3%. He averages a solid 8.3 yards/attempt, but his lack of accuracy is likely to lead to a bunch of 3rd down plays.
This matchup reminds me a lot of Western Kentucky. I get a blowout/shoutout feeling again. The difference this week may come down to which team makes plays in key moments — think 3rd down stops throughout the game. The Army defensive line needs to make sure Gabbert doesn’t have all day to throw. And the secondary needs to play like they did in the first half against WKU, not the second.
Facing FBS opponents, the RedHawk defense gives up 5.5 yards/carry on the ground. This bodes well for Army’s offense. Worse, their defensive backs make fully 54% of their tackles; just 46% come from linebackers and/or the defensive line. By comparison, Army’s linebackers and D-Line account for 61% of the Black Knights’ tackles. This may create some chaos since Miami will have to bring their safeties up for run support. They’ve been doing that all year to this point.
The biggest RedHawk defensive threat is LB Ivan Pace Jr., who leads the team with 22 tackles. If the Army O-Line can neutralize Pace, the Black Knights’ fullbacks ought to have a day.
RedHawk K Graham Nicholson can hit long field goals. He’s 2/2, with makes from 45 and 46 yards. However, the RedHawks punts for an average of just 37 yards. Thus, if the game comes down to field position, Army should have a decided advantage.
As of this writing, Army is an 8.5-point favorite. The Over/Under has fallen to 50.5. Bottom line, Vegas thinks Army will score about 30 points while holding Miami to something like 2 touchdowns and a field goal. However, Army hasn’t scored that few points all season, and they’ve played better run defenses.
As with Western Kentucky, this game may well come down to how the Black Knight defense performs. Army’s secondary need to dominate. They’re the one piece of the Black Knight team that still has some unanswered questions. They’ve made big plays when it mattered, but statistically, Army ranks 112th in passing efficiency defense. These guys ought to be better than that.
The game kicks at noon. CBS Sports has coverage.
Go Army! Beat Miami!!!
*Cover image via @ArmyWP_Football