Key Matchups: Army vs. UTSA

Army West Point Megaphone

The third game of the year matches the Army West Point Black Knights (1-1, Sagarin 57) and the Conference USA West University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (1-1, Sagarin 109).  This is the first meeting between these schools as the UTSA program has only been in existence since 2011.  Both teams are coming off losses to major programs.  The Roadrunners were blown out at Baylor, while Army looks to rebound from an overtime loss to Michigan.

Last week

In Ann Arbor

Army was very close to pulling off their biggest win in 50 years, but fell in overtime to Michigan, 24-21.  The Army defense was spectacular, allowing Michigan only 108 yards on 45 rushing attempts.  Michigan did gain 232 yards in the air, but their quarterbacks were a collective 20-31 for a 7.5 yards per pass average.  Freshman Running Back Zach Charbonnet was contained, gaining 100 yards and all three touchdowns on 33 carries.  Army Senior Cornerback Elijah Riley made the most of the national exposure and had 13 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Senior Linebacker Cole Christiansen had 12 tackles and a forced fumble.  Senior Defensive Back Jaylon Mclinton, Sophomore Linebacker Arik Smith (forced fumble), Senior Linebacker Cam Jones and Senior Linebacker Amadeo West all had good days.  The Army defensive line was rotating on nearly every play in the second half and they were sensational.  What was Army’s largest question at the beginning of the season, seems to be their strength.

The Army Offense was not great, but they did what they had to in order to win.  Army gained 243 yards (200 rushing, 43 passing) and held the ball for 31:35.  Senior Fullback Connor Slumka was effective, gaining 92 yards on 29 carries.  Senior Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins was contained, gaining 41 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.  Army only had two plays longer than 30 yards.  They mostly stuck to schedule and patiently plodded their way down the field.  Army ran fewer plays than Michigan (67-76).  Senior Linebacker Kahleke Hudson had 12 tackles and Senior Jordan Glasgown had 11 for the Wolverines.

Army had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Freshman Kicker, Cole Talley just missed a 52-yard field goal in his first collegiate try.  The coaching staff seems to have a reason for every move, however Army had 17 seconds remaining on the play prior to the kick and Offensive Coordinator Brent Davis chose to set up for a good field goal angle, rather than throw the ball down field to better Talley’s chances.

Both teams were imperfect as each fumbled three times.  However, Army’s biggest mistake was Slumka’s illegal procedure on a second and goal from the 1-yard line mid-way through the second half.  The penalty forced a pass and interception on an ill-advised throw by Hopkins.  Hopkins was so disciplined in the Rice game in not throwing the suspect pass, but he threw this one off of his back foot and did not get enough behind the throw to find Senior Tight End Zach Saumin the end zone.  If Army had created a two-score lead, they may have sealed the victory.

Overall it was a heartbreaking loss for the Cadets and their loyal fans.  Unlike the Army/Penn State game of four years ago, where Army nearly stole a game against the Nitany Lions second string, the Cadets physically matched up against the seventh-ranked team in the country and in my opinion, deserved to win.

While the loss stings, rest assured, Army football is back better than ever.

In Waco

The Baylor Bears racked up 546 total yards and were able to work much of their second team in the second half, as they easily cruised to a 63-14 win against the Roadrunners.

Junior Quarterback Charlie Brewer was 12/16 for 163 yards and three touchdowns.  However, the bulk of the offense was on the ground as the Bears gained 368 yards and five touchdowns on 39 carries. Freshman Running Back Gerry Bohanon gained 93 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.  Senior Safety Carl Austin III had six tackles.

The Roadrunners gained 266 total yards (102 passing, 160 rushing) and had only one turnover (fumble.)  Sophomore Quarterback Frank Harris was 15/24 for 93 yards.  Freshman Running Back Sincere McCormick gained 87 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

Who is favored?

Army is favored by 17 points.

What to look for?

In two games, versus Incarnate Word and Baylor, the Roadrunners are allowing 198 yards rushing per game for an average of 6.7 yards per carry.  In the first two games versus Rice and Michigan, Army is averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt.  UTSA utilizes a 4-3 defense.  The front four are well sized with the Defensive Ends Seniors Jarrod Carter-McLin and Eric Banks weighing in at 255lbs. and 270lbs. respectively.  The Defensive Tackles Senior Baylen Baker and Junior Jaylon Haynes both weigh more than 290lbs.  We will see how that line holds up against the sophisticated Army offense.

The Roadrunners have gained more than half of their yards on the ground averaging 154 yards per game and 5.4 yards per rush.  UTSA runs a spread offense and always a running back in the backfield, very similar to what Army has already seen twice this year.

I don’t think San Antonio will have much success stopping the triple option.  Army will score on most drives.  I think that the Army defense will have another stellar performance.  Hopefully we will see some great numbers from Hopkins before he leaves the game early in the second half.

Final Score – Army 35 – UTSA 7 (predictions in 2019, 1-1)

This game will be shown on the NFL Channel at 3:30 PM EDT.

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