The Army Black Knights host a talented but desperate team from Georgia State this week. When both teams were 0-2, we heard State fans saying, “Well, okay, but these are the two best 0-2 teams in the country.” Army has since won a game against Villanova while State went on to drop two additional contests to Charlotte and Coastal Carolina. At this point, the Georgia State Panthers may very well be the best 0-4 team in the country, but they absolutely need to win right now, this week, or they can pretty much kiss their postseason bowl hopes goodbye.
Whatever this team has, we are absolutely going to see their very best effort this coming Saturday.
ＧＡＭＥ ＷＥＥＫ.— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 26, 2022
Back at Michie Saturday on @CBSSportsNet #GoArmy pic.twitter.com/xHOjSyZ5mW
Army Black Knights
The good news is that the Black Knights got back to playing Army Football two weeks ago against Villanova. They ran the ball for a whopping 472 yards, which moved them into 3rd place overall in the nation in rushing. They are now averaging 285 rushing yards/game on a very respectable 5.7 yards/carry. Meanwhile, Army remains the most efficient passing offense in the country, having gone 17/27 through the air (63.0%) for 446 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception. With this, Army has one of the best overall scoring offenses in the country. Friends, they are averaging every bit of 38.3 points/game (32nd).
Statistically speaking, Army’s problems have mostly come on defense, especially against the running game. The team has given up 196.3 yards/game on the ground on 4.8 yards/carry (118th). That is a problem. Indeed, opponents have converted 45.7% of their 3rd downs this season, a decidedly uncharacteristic statistic, and one that perhaps explains the team’s overall record more succinctly than any other facet of the game. MLB Leo Lowin leads the team in tackles with 27 (14 solo), but S Marquel Broughton is second with 20 (11 solo), meaning that Broughton has had to come up to help with run support a lot. Army looks better in terms of total defense, having given up 398.7 yards/game (88th), so they’ve played much better on balance against the pass than they have against the run. However, they’ve still been on the field too much — 208 total snaps in just 3 games — and they’ve given up 5.8 yards/play overall. That is not an overwhelming number of defensive snaps, but it’s still a good bit more than we’re used to seeing these guys play on a per game basis.
Taken together, this Army Team is probably just a few missed tackles away from being truly outstanding. But a few little things can create big problems. The team will need to continue to grind away in the running game on offense and stop the run like they did against Villanova in the second half on defense. That is the only way if they truly want to accomplish their goals the rest of this season.
Cool moment in our game against Villanova ?— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 27, 2022
Retired 1LT Bob Jones, a 1965 West Point grad, shared a fist bump with Tyrell Robinson after his amazing punt return.
Jones was being honored for National POW/MIA Recognition Day ?#GoArmy pic.twitter.com/EeVvpbtaop
Georgia State Panthers
The Georgia State Panthers have a talented team, but their season has not gone their way as yet, either. Some of that is down to their schedule — they dropped tough road games to SEC South Carolina and ACC North Carolina, and they lost at home to hyper-talented in-conference rival Coastal Carolina — but they also somehow dropped a home game to Conference USA bottom-feeder Charlotte, and that was bad. Bottom line, the Panthers are giving up too many points on defense. Opponents are scoring 38.3 points/game against them, putting State in 120th place out of 131 FBS teams.
Like Army, the Panthers are a run-first team with a strong downfield passing game. QB Darren Grainger has gone 59/112 passing (52.7%) for 871 yards and 9 touchdowns against 4 interceptions and 6 sacks. That is a very good ratio of touchdowns to interceptions but not enough total accuracy to reliably threaten defenses over the full width and breadth of the field. But Grainger is also a strong runner, having carried the ball 47 times for 185 yards (3.9 yards/carry) and a touchdown. Indeed, the Panthers run a decent amount of option football on offense, both read-option and traditional speed option with a pitch man.
This is not to say that the Panthers don’t have a dangerous receiving corps. WRs Jamari Thrash and Robert Lewis average 18.1 and 20.8 yards/catch, respectively, and Lewis has *5* touchdown receptions. This is definitely a team that can get over the top. What they’re not necessarily good at is hitting short possession-type passes to drive methodically down the field.
Unfortunately, Georgia State has also allowed teams to drive all over them on defense. They’re giving up 158.5 rushing yards/game (88th) on 4.2 yards/carry. With that, opponents are converting 42.3% of their 3rd downs (100th), which in turn sets opponents up to throw for a whopping 295 yards/game (122nd). The Panthers have 7 sacks and 5 interceptions, and that’s been enough to keep them in games. However, they have yet to get a win largely because they flat haven’t been able to stop anyone on defense when it really mattered.
???? ?‼️@unoskiii takes it to the house for our @CocaCola play of the week!#OurCity | #SoundTheHorn pic.twitter.com/I2nJXG62SO— Georgia State Panthers (@GSUPanthers) September 26, 2022
Once again, this is not a complicated match-up. If Army can run the ball and stop the run, they will win this game. However, if Georgia State can get their own running game going and use it to set up their dynamic downfield passing game, the Black Knights will be in some trouble.
Either way, this game will 100% come down to who plays better along the line of scrimmage and can therefore get tough yards on the ground to convert 3rd downs.
Mood heading back into a Michie ＧＡＭＥ ＷＥＥＫ!#GoArmy pic.twitter.com/3SJgwe2PeB— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 26, 2022
The line on this game currently sits at Army (-7.5). That’s not unreasonable on its face, though I don’t know that I would personally bet on the Black Knights winning by more than a touchdown. The Over/Under sits at 55.5, and while the statistics probably favor the Over, the match-up itself is a lot more likely to see the Under. Both teams need to run the ball to be successful, and all other factors aside, that ought to at least shorten the game.
Weather this weekend is expected to be mostly cloudy with potential showers, some wind, and highs in the low- to mid-60s. If the rain holds off, we might get a good day for football. If it’s wet, though, it might get a little chilly out there.
CBS Sports has this weekend’s coverage. Kickoff goes at noon.
See you next Saturday‼️#GoArmy pic.twitter.com/1k94txCeZp— Army Football (@ArmyWP_Football) September 24, 2022
Go Army! Beat Georgia State!!!
* Cover image via USMA Flickr.
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