Five games into the 2022 football season, and we’ve reached a crossroads in the Black Knights’ year. The team’s toughest games are behind them, but they’re now 1-4 without an FBS win. The season isn’t lost by any means, but if this team wants to make it to the postseason, they will need to get things turned around immediately.
The good news is that they have the right team coming into Michie Stadium to help them get right. The bad news is that even if they win by 100 this weekend, they still won’t be any closer to bowl eligibility because only one FCS game will count in that regard.
Still, this weekend is an opportunity to fix what’s not working and hopefully build a little momentum as we head into the back half of the schedule.
Army Black Knights
Run the ball; stop the run; don’t turn it over. This is what Army needs to do to win football games. We’ve said it before, and nothing has changed.
Well, friends, Army is really running the football well. Even against good teams with strong rushing defenses, the Black Knights have managed to put up plenty of yards and — usually — plenty of points, too. As of this writing, the team has 272 carries for 1,434 yards (5.3 yards/carry) with a whopping 13 rushing touchdowns. That’s good for second in the nation in rushing. The Black Knights are averaging 1.3 yards/carry more than Navy and a little more than a half-yard/carry less than Air Force, whose toughest test to date came in a loss to Mountain-West also-ran Wyoming. Six Army players have carried the ball at least 20 times this season. Half of them are averaging at least 5.0 yards/carry, two more are above 4 yards/carry, and even plebe FB Hayden Reed has earned a respectable 3.9 yards/carry in his first 21 touches as a collegiate athlete.
All of that is working.
Alas, turnovers have become arguably the biggest problem for the Black Knights this season. The team’s turnover margin currently sits at -5, having lost 6 fumbles and 3 interceptions against 2 fumbles forced plus 2 interceptions by the Army secondary. Literally half a dozen promising drives have been snuffed by untimely fumbles. This is not the plan.
Needless to say, all those turnovers have put an already struggling Army defense in a variety of vulnerable positions. Alas, a defensive unit that is allowing 221.8 rushing yards/game on 5.2 yards/carry needs all the help it can get. Right now, though, they’re not getting that help. Instead, they’re getting fed into a woodchipper by a turnover machine.
With this in mind, the best thing the Black Knights can do to help themselves this Saturday is to hold onto the football.
Colgate Red Raiders
Like Army, Colgate has also gotten off to a rocky 1-4 start. They understandably dropped their opener on the road at Stanford, 41-10, but then they came back to beat Maine 21-18. Since then, however, they’ve dropped three in a row to Penn, Holy Cross, and Cornell. On balance, they seem unlikely to make noise in Patriot League this year, though they’ve only played one conference game, and there is plenty of football left to play.
Like a lot of teams we’ve seen this season, the Red Raiders utilize a run-heavy offense, but their version is struggling mightily. QB Michael Brescia has gone just 60/131 passing (45.8%) for all of 577 yards with no touchdowns against 3 interceptions. With that, Colgate is throwing for just 4.4 yards/attempt. That is one of the lowest totals the AFF Crew has ever seen at the collegiate level. Brescia also leads his team in rushing, however. He’s got 76 carries for 260 yards (3.4 yards/carry) with 5 rushing touchdowns. RBs Max Hurleman and Jaedon Henry are the other mainstays of this offense, averaging 4.4 and 5.3 yards/carry, respectively.
Thankfully, Colgate’s defense has been better… to an extent. They’ve allowed just 131.4 rushing yards/game on 3.8 yards/carry, and that’s good. They’ve gotten torched through the air, though, having given up 262.8 yards/game passing and therefore nearly 400 yards/game of total offense. With that, opponents have scored an average of 30.6 points overall. Worse, the Red Raiders defense has been terrible in the red zone, having allowed 16/22 conversions for touchdowns plus 3 field goals.
K Spencer Biscoe has been perfect this season on extra points, but he’s 7/10 on field goals, with misses from 30+, 40+ and 50+ this season.
Friends, this is a game that Army should win handily. This Colgate team is nowhere near as good as Villanova was. The Black Knights just need to run the ball, stop the run, and avoid turnovers.
Hell, maybe if they force enough turnovers this week, they can even get back to par on their turnover margin overall.
Reality is that despite the 1-4 start, all of Army’s biggest goals for the season still somehow remain in front of them. It’s been a nightmarish start, but this team can turn things around. They need to show improvements in a couple of key areas — especially on turnovers! — and they need to start finding some solutions against option-based rushing attacks. But the talent is there. Even when they’ve lost, we’ve seen plenty to be excited about.
Weather this weekend should be sunny with highs in the low- to mid-60s. It’s peak foliage season, too, so this should be an absolutely ideal Army Football Saturday.
Thankfully, if you can’t make it to the game, CBS Sports has this one. Kickoff goes at noon.
Go Army! Beat Colgate!!!
* Cover image via USMA Flickr.