Key Matchups: Army vs. Hawaii

The twelfth game of the year matches the Army West Point Black Knights (5-6, Sagarin 92) and the Mountain West Western Division Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (8-4, Sagarin 76).   Hawaii leads the all-time series 3-1, however Army was able to hold on to the victory last year when they prevailed 28-21 at Michie.

It has been a fantastic year for Nick Rolovich and the Hawaii Warriors.  They are 8-4 and will play BYU on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl, however a win over Army and a win over Boise St. in the Mountain West Championship could land them in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 21st.  Army is on a modest two game win streak, looking to continue the momentum for a season saving win against Navy and preserve a chance at a winning record.

Two Weeks Ago

At Michie

The Army Team ran for 594 yards on 65 carries as they hazed the Keydets 47-6 at Michie.

The Keydets came into the game as the #225 team in football and they looked more like a Division III team than one who could compete in this game.  Junior Quarterback Reece Udinkski, 6’4, 224lbs.  looked to be a legitimate FCS quarterback as he was able to keep his team on the field for 23 minutes.   He was 23/37 for 218 yards and there were several dropped passes by his receivers.  It would not surprise me if he were picked up by a Power 5 team for his senior year.

For Army, it was a day to heal, gel and get the second and third string some reps.  Senior Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins did not start but led all rushers with 208 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.  Sophomore Quarterback Jabari Laws gained 91 yards and a touchdown before his knee gave out.  To the television audience, it certainly looked like a torn ACL and we will be lucky to see Jabari play next year.

Junior Receiver Camden Harrison caught three passes for 48 yards.  I have been very impressed with the Army receiver corps with their ability to catch and block.  They will be needed if Army is going to win their remaining two games.

In all, 11 Black Knights carried the ball.  20 different Black Knights made tackles and VMI only ran 60 plays.

After looking tremendous for most of the year, Army Kickers missed a field goal and two extra points.  Let’s hope it was due to a lack of concentration and not confidence, Army may need a couple of key field goals in the next two games.

In Honolulu, HI

Hawaii limited the SDSU to 89 rushing yards on 26 carries and held them to only 11 points as the Rainbow Warriors scalped the Aztecs 14-11.

Junior Quarterback Cole McDonald and Freshman Chevan Cordeiro were 22/35 for 215 yards and one touchdown.  They spread the passes to four different receivers, but Senior Receiver Jason-Matthew Sharsh caught 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.  The Warriors gained 132 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.

20 different Warriors made tackles, but they were led by Sophomore Corner Back Khoury Bethley and Senior Linebacker Solomon Matuatia with seven tackles apiece.

Who is favored?

Hawaii is favored by 3 points

What to look for?

This is a very interesting Hawaii team.  They average 34 points per game with a very high standard deviation.  They run the RPO that Army has seen most of the year.  They throw nearly 60% of the time, but run often enough to keep the linebackers at bay.  Cole McDonald is more of a passer with a tremendous arm.  McDonald has completed 64.8% of 400 passes this year.  He has thrown 13 interceptions and 26 touchdowns.  He is the second leading rusher on the team, gaining 476 yard and six touchdowns on 76 carries.  Head Coach Nick Rolovich is quick to pull McDonald when he is confused by the defense and making bad decisions.  Chevan Cordeiro has completed 57.9 % of his 107 pass attempts and has three interceptions versus six touchdowns.  Sophomore Miles Reed is their leading rusher, with 756 yards and six touchdowns on 142 attempts.

The Hawaii defense averages 31.8 points per game.  They are allowing an average of 188 yards rushing per game and a 5.6 yards per carry average.  Contrastingly, they only yield 233.9 yards per game passing.

All year I have been looking at the size of the defensive line to see if Army will be able to establish the Fullback Dive.  This Offensive Line/Fullback combination is simply not as good as last year. Defenses stack the line and blitz corners.  If they are able to make one negative play in a series, it has usually thwarted the Army drive.  What is interesting is that this Hawaii line (4-3) has a 300lb Nose Tackle, 285lb Defensive Tackle, and 275lb and 245lb Defensive Ends.  They are big enough to stop a rushing attack, yet they yield 5.6 yards per carry.

Against Air Force, they gave up 353 yards on 51 carries.  Back-up Senior Quarterback Mike Schmidt passed for 147 yards and a touchdown and ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns.  Sophomore Fullback Timothy Jackson gained 113 yards on 13 carries.  The key was seven pass attempts that averaged 24 yards per catch.  The Falcons kept the cornerbacks out of the backfield and attacked between the tackles and over the top.

I would expect Senior Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins to start the game.  I expect a full dose of dive and Quarterback follow.  I think that it would be worthwhile for Coach Brent Davis to call a few passes early, in order to keep the Warriors from stacking the line.  I think that Army will be able to move the ball and will score.  They must consume the clock and limit Rainbow Warrior touches.

The Warriors will throw, gain yards, score and make a mistake or two.  Army can win this game.  The key will be scoring when they get the ball and getting to McDonald.  McDonald will make mistakes if Army changes coverages and blitz packages.

This should be a really fun game.  Army has really had a break for three weeks (aside from Jabari Law’s knee) and they should be near full strength for this contest.  The team left for the Island on Tuesday, so they should be fully acclimated come game time.

Final Score – Army 28 – Hawaii 24 (predictions in 2019, 5-6)

This game will be shown on CBSSTV at 12:30 AM EST Sunday Morning.

Picks from the Ridge (13-2)

Oklahoma St. +13 over Oklahoma

Maryland +22 over Michigan St.

Virginia +2.5 over Virginia Tech

Kansas St. +5.5 over Iowa St.

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