Army football hosts Georgia Southern on Saturday at Michie Stadium. Here are your three keys to an Army West Point victory.
This is the Jeff Monken Bowl. Army’s head coach used to coach at Georgia Southern. On Saturday, the Black Knights host the Eagles in a battle of 6-2 teams. Georgia Southern’s two losses came to good teams, Louisiana-Lafayette and Coastal Carolina. Those Sun Belt squads have spent portions of the season in the top 25 of the national rankings. Coastal Carolina is a top-15 team right now. Army has to dust itself off and pick itself off the canvas after an ugly loss to Tulane. Let’s see what the Black Knights need to focus on in a game between teams which are in many ways cut from the same cloth.
1 – Strength vs. Strength
This is a meeting of relative equals – not just teams with 6-2 records, but teams which play the game in similar ways. The biggest and most eye-popping stat about Georgia Southern is that its defense allows an average of only 92.6 rushing yards per game. Army isn’t going to adopt the Air Raid or any pass-heavy offensive scheme at any point in the near future. “You are what you are,” as the saying goes, and Army simply has to find a way to run the ball successfully against Georgia Southern’s defense. Whether it’s the fullback dive, or the quarterback keeper, or the option pitch, or the rocket toss, or a combination of traps and counters, Army has to find the right angles and methods for running the ball against the GSU defense. Solving this puzzle and cracking this code give the Black Knights the foremost key to victory on Saturday.
2 – Get a lead and force Georgia Southern to pass
Georgia Southern doesn’t like to throw the ball. Shai Werts has thrown as many as 20 passes in only one game this year. That was the Eagles’ 28-14 loss to Coastal Carolina, a game in which they trailed for a large portion of the proceedings. Werts completed just seven of his 20 passes that day. Werts is not even six feet tall (5-11), so much like Stetson Bennett of Georgia, he has a hard time seeing the field and getting the ball past the line of scrimmage. Georgia Southern has attempted an average of 10.3 passes the past three games. If GSU has to throw, it’s not a good outcome for the Eagles. Army needs to get in front, force the Eagles to pass, and feast on defense.
3 – Field position
Army gave up 38 points to Tulane on a day when the Green Wave had just one scoring drive longer than 53 yards. So much of this game comes down to Army forcing Georgia Southern’s offense to earn every score the Eagles get. Half-field drives for the opposition and weak special teams performances will significantly reduce Army’s chances of victory. The Black Knights need to be a lot more solid in those components of Saturday’s game.
Saturday’s game kicks off at Noon ET. Watch on the CBS Sports network.