The 3-6 Army Black Knights need to win their remaining three games to secure bowl eligibility, and first up is a home matchup against the 6-6 (and bowl eligibly) UConn Huskies.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys to Army starting a run with a win over UConn:
Forget the Last Two Weeks
This has been a frustrating season for Army. The Black Knights have lost two on the bounce by a combined seven points, and when you add in the three-point defeat at the hands of UTSA back at the beginning of the season, Army could easily sit at 6-3 right now. The Huskies are one of the best stories in the nation as Jim Mora has rebuilt the program with a collection of young and exciting players, and UConn just earned its first bowl bid since 2015 with a win over previous No. 19 Liberty. Army should be favored here, but the Black Knights must expect a different level of effort and talent from UConn compared to the past.
Defense Continues its Hot Streak
The Army defense took a long time to get going this season. Over the last two weeks, however, they have been outstanding. Army gave up a combined 23 points in the losses to Air Force and Troy, with the defense holding up its end of the bargain with 16 tackles for a loss, six sacks, and making the opponents punt the ball 12 times. Much of this is due to better work on third down, with the 45% they gave up before the ULM game, not a good number. If the defense continues to force pressure and mistakes, then Army wins here.
It must Be Better on Fourth Down
Many issues have contributed to Army being 3-6 on the season, but the biggest problem has been Army’s inability to convert on fourth down. This team simply needs to convert on fourth down because of how the triple-option works. Army is No. 63 in the country on fourth down, converting 13-of-25 chances for 52%. Add in that the Black Knights are 3 in turnover margin on the year, and you can see why a team with an explosive rushing attack isn’t scoring enough points. Fourth downs have to be converted on Saturday if (when) they come up.