Your Army Black Knights are 4-0 for the first time since 1996, and at least right now, the team is rolling hot. On paper, their match-up with the Ball State Cardinals looks like one the Black Knights ought to win going away.
However, this Ball State team has a lot of talent, and at least before the season actually began, they had a lot of expectations as well. In fact, they can still turn this thing around with a win over Army as they head into Mid-American Conference play.
Our Call of the Game by @richdemarco of the Army Sports Network on Saturday is Christian Anderson's 72-yard rushing TD to start his career day of 236 rushing yards. #GoArmy | #LastoftheHard pic.twitter.com/dJCU2rQUdG— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 29, 2021
Keys to Victory
We’ve got four Keys this week.
1. Pressure QB Drew Plitt
Cardinals senior QB Drew Plitt is a talented player with an accurate arm and plenty of weapons. This season, though, has been something of a nightmare. Plitt has been sacked *10* times in just four games, and against Wyoming, he threw 2 pick-sixes. That’s unbelievable! Moreover, Plitt’s accuracy is down almost 5% from a year ago. That means he’s throwing 1-2 additional off-target balls in every contest. He’s also thrown 3 total interceptions against just 2 touchdown passes this year. Did I mention that Plitt has fumbled a few times when hit behind the line of scrimmage?
Army needs to get into Drew Plitt’s face and force more of these mistakes. This is exactly the kind of situation in which DC Nate Woody’s defense typically thrives.
2. Fight Past First Contact
In watching Ball State’s highlights against Wyoming (see above), it’s amazing how often the Cowboys’ running backs got stopped at the line of scrimmage but fought through contact to break off a long run. Last week, the Cardinals held Toledo to just 4/12 on 3rd down, but they still gave up a whopping 272 yards of rushing on just 44 attempts (6.2 yards/carry). Why? Because they gave up a bunch of long plays — again.
As we saw last week, Army can make this work. We’ve seen it all season. If the Black Knights’ ball carriers can keep their feet and churn through uncommitted tackling, they ought to do well.
ʟᴇᴀᴅᴇʀ ᴏꜰ ᴄʜᴀʀᴀᴄᴛᴇʀ.— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 29, 2021
Congrats to Arik Smith on being named a semifinalist for the @NFFNetwork William V. Campbell Trophy, given annually to football's top scholar-athlete. #GoArmy | #LastoftheHard | #CampbellTrophy pic.twitter.com/kThnlM2r8a
3. Smash Ball State’s Running Game
Ball State has rushed 142 times for 525 yards and just 5 touchdowns this season. That nets out to just 3.7 yards/carry. This has set QB Drew Plitt up to carry the offense, and as we’ve noted, that’s not something he’s been able to do on his own.
Again, this plays to Army’s strengths. The Black Knights need to stop the Cardinals’ running game, put the ball in Plitt’s hands, and then get in his face. That’s not complicated, but it is the most critical Key to Victory.
4. Beat the Month of October
September has been a good month for the Black Knights historically. When things have fallen apart in the Monken Era, that has tended to happen in October. Army’s got a match-up that they ought to win this week, but they’re likely to be without QB Christian Anderson, and injuries are starting to pile up elsewhere as well.
This team needs to keep doing what they do, and they need to do it early and often to keep the nightmare season front-and-center in the minds of Ball State’s players. These Black Knights have a good team, and at least based on what we’ve seen so far this season, they should win this game decisively.
Just like Cobra Kai, now is the time to strike first, strike hard, and show no mercy!
Our AD @bgoetz12 took the leap with the @ArmyGK from more than two miles above the earth!— Ball State Sports (@BallStateSports) September 29, 2021
Now it's your turn! Leap into Scheumann Stadium on Saturday to watch @BallStateFB take on Army West Point!
TICKETS: https://t.co/GZV0c8ZwMq#WeFly l #ChirpChirp pic.twitter.com/rKsbQN5a1D