Army football visits Tulane on Saturday in New Orleans. Here are your three keys to a Black Knight’s victory.
By Matt Zemek
The Army Black Knights didn’t get to play the Air Force Falcons this past weekend, a huge disappointment and letdown in this COVID-19 season. We all hope that Army will be able to play Navy one month from now, but in the meantime, life goes on. Army – which has played multiple FCS opponents this season – takes on an FBS foe this coming Saturday when it faces the Tulane Green Wave. Let’s look at what the Black Knights need to do to win this contest.
1 – Maximize and Minimize
Tulane is and has been one of the more volatile teams in college football this season. The Green Wave were down 24-6 to South Alabama before rallying for a 27-24 win. Tulane led Navy 24-0 but then lost 27-24. Tulane led Houston 17-7 after one quarter but then lost by 18 points, 49-31. Tulane can look really good in short bursts but very rarely sustains a high level of play. Army needs to minimize Tulane’s most prosperous periods and maximize its own runs against a Green Wave team which can buckle under pressure if that pressure is consistently applied.
2 – Get the jump in the first 20 minutes
Tulane has a balanced offense. The Green Wave are capable of throwing and running the ball and like to make opposing defenses guess what they are going to do next. If Army can get a 10- or 14-point lead in the first 20 minutes of a game, however, that will make it harder for the Green Wave to keep Army’s defense off balance. Tulane will have to throw more repeatedly, making coach Willie Fritz’s offense one-dimensional and a sitting duck for the Black Knights’ quality defense. Doing well in the first one and a half quarters is significant beyond the fact that it would give Army a lead and a good start; taking versatility and unpredictability away from Tulane’s offense is a part of the plan. That’s why getting off to a strong start is such a central need for Jeff Monken’s team in this game.
3 – Tulane pre-snap reads and hard counts
Last week, Tulane outfoxed East Carolina. After the game, won 38-21 by Tulane, the East Carolina coaching staff marveled at how Tulane was able to identify ECU’s initial defense, use a hard count to get the Pirates to show their alignment, and then check into a different play which could expose East Carolina’s alignment. Tulane’s alert offense knew which plays to check into. It knew how to adjust in ways which could exploit the gaps and flaws in East Carolina’s defense. Army players therefore need to look at film and see how they can make better pre-snap adjustments. Not getting caught in unfavorable alignments will be important for the Black Knights.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 12:00 PM ET. Watch on the ESPN+ network.