The Army Black Knights have Navy just around the corner, but first they must deal with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, a good team which defeated San Diego State last weekend to win the Mountain West’s West Division.
By Matt Zemek
Hawaii will play the Boise State Broncos in the Mountain West Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Boise. Army hopes Hawaii will be caught looking ahead to that game, but the Black Knights can’t expect that will happen. Jeff Monken needs his team to prepare for Hawaii’s best effort. If Army can prevail here, it will be eligible for a bowl in 2019, which would be a great “sand save” after Army’s 2019 tee shot went into a bunker. The Black Knights are hoping to rescue their 3-6 start with a 3-0 rally before meeting Navy in the Big One on Dec. 14.
1 – Disguise the defensive looks
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald was pulled due to ineffectiveness (not injury) last week against San Diego State’s tough defense. Hawaii won the game, but it scored just 14 points against the Aztecs and found tough sledding most of the night. Army’s best performance of this season remains the near-victory against Air Force. Army confused and constrained Air Force’s passing game that day. It will similarly need to thwart Hawaii’s passing attack if it wants to win on the islands and be a bowl-eligible team heading into December. Chevan Coideiro is Hawaii’s other quarterback. He relieved McDonald last week. Army needs to provide pre-snap looks which disguise coverages and bait Hawaii’s inconsistent quarterbacks into interceptions which will change the tenor of this game.
2 – Go the extra mile against Miles
Hawaii running back Miles Reed is a central performer for the Rainbow Warriors’ offense. If he gets off to a good start, Army will have to commit more defenders to the tackle box, leaving the pass defense exposed. It will be interesting to see if Hawaii tries to run to establish the pass, or if it passes first to set up Reed. Either way, Miles Reed is someone Army has to focus on. This defense’s instincts will be sorely tested by Hawaii’s running back. Army has to be ready for him and how Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich deploys him in formations and play calls.
3 – Passing grade
Jabari Laws got hurt (again) against VMI, and Kelvin Hopkins wasn’t 100-percent two weeks ago in Army’s most recent game. This begs the simple but important question: “Where will the big pass plays come from?” Army has to find a few, most likely, if it wants to score enough to win. This will be one of the more challenging aspects of Saturday’s game.