Army visits Western Kentucky on Saturday in Bowling Green, KY. Here are your three keys to an Army win over Western Kentucky.
By Matt Zemek
Before being too critical of the Army Black Knights, realize a few things: First, Tulane might be really good. The Green Wave had already beaten Houston and appear to be a legitimate contender in the AAC West Division this season. Army didn’t lose to a bunch of chumps in Michie Stadium.
The second point of emphasis: After Navy won 11 games in 2015, the Midshipmen were knocked about in 2016 and even more in 2017. It is hard to stay at the top and maintain really high standards. Everything fell into place for Army in 2018, much as everything lined up well for Navy in 2015. Surely the Black Knights knew this year was going to be a challenge.
Well, here we are. Challenge accepted.
The Black Knights had just the right combination of players on defense in 2018, and now they are finding out that each new season doesn’t guarantee the same chemistry or results. The attempt to build back a winning identity begins on Saturday against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Key 1 – Mindset over Tactics
A defensive scheme is not irrelevant to Army’s situation or its needs right now. Surely, Jeff Monken and his defensive staff need to find better answers as this season goes along. Yet, it is easy for Army’s defense to get caught up in a process of worrying about tactics and some of the finer details of defense right now. Naturally, a period of prolonged struggle elicits a lot of doubt and thought.
The conflict athletes must deal with when they struggle is to not overthink situations. At some point, athletes – competitors – have to quiet the noise in the mind and simply play, fluidly and without sweating the details too much. That’s where Army stands in this game. Players have to trust their instincts and embrace this game – every game, every snap – with passion. That passion can override doubt and remind Army that each game isn’t a burden of proof, but a chance to establish a new standard.
Army can’t worry about protecting what it built last season. This team has to create its own place and its own story: rebounding from difficulty to restore its season and win the Commander In Chief’s Trophy yet again. That process of building toward readiness for the CIC Trophy begins anew against Western Kentucky.
Don’t think. Play.
Key 2 – First quarters first
First things first: Army needs to knock the snot out of Western Kentucky in the first quarter. Creating good vibes at the start of this game can flow through the rest of the day and give Army the rejuvenation it needs to rescue this season.
Key 3 – The front four
Tulane ran the ball well, passed the ball well, and displayed both balance and efficiency. When a team is completing almost 75 percent of its passes and is rolling up more than 200 yards passing and 300 yards rushing, it can safely be said that the opposing defensive line didn’t do anything to disrupt its offense.
Army’s defensive front needs to show up more than any other unit on the team this week. A good performance from this unit can be a catalyst for the rest of the roster.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 7:00 ET. Watch on the Stadium Network.