The Army Black Knights (4-3) will be looking to rescue a season in danger of falling off of the rails on Saturday as they have lost three in a row following four unbeaten to start the season.
By Steve Wright
They face off against an Air Force Falcons (6-2) side looking to lock up the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with a win here. Here are the three keys to an Army win.
1 – Win the rushing dual
As is often the case when these two meet – especially when Navy is having a down year – the Black Knights and the Falcons are numbers one and two in the country in rushing yards per game. It is actually Air Force that leads the way in this category as they rumble for 318.4 yards per game on the ground to Army’s 312.3. They both run versions, albeit different ones, of the triple-option offense, meaning that there are multiple ball carriers and weapons on each squad as opposed to one or two featured backs. Whoever can control the tempo, winning time of possession here will be huge, will have the best shot to grind out a win.
2 – Explosive plays
As much as these two will grind it out for most of the contest, Army is going to need an explosive play or two somewhere within the rushing game to try to break things open. The advanced metrics favor the Black Knights here as the Falcons are 110th in the country in Stuff Rate. 129th in Power Success Rate Allowed, and 125th in Rushing Explosiveness allowed. We have seen starting quarterback Christian Anderson be very explosive at times this season and he should be back after being knocked out of the Wake Forest game in the first half. If he is, then Army needs to use his legs to create explosive plays that alter the course of the game.
3 – No mistakes
These are two very well-coached squads. Army cannot expect Air Force to give free yards through penalties, just as the Falcons won’t expect the same of the Black Knights. Turnovers should be few and far between with both teams giving it up just six times this season, while Air Force has 11 takeaways – a number negated some against Army as the Black Knights don’t throw the football. This will come down to assignments and making plays. Defenders will need to make the right tackle reads and offensive players must do the same with their blocking. If Army plays clean then the Black Knights will win.