The 4-6 Army Black Knights took care of UConn on Saturday and now must win two more games on the bounce to achieve bowl eligibility. The first of those games is a road contest on Saturday against the 1-10 UMass Minutemen.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys to an Army victory:
1 – Win on Third Down
This is a weird one. As bad as UMass has been – and in many phases, they are very bad – the third down defense has been very good. The Minutemen only allow opponents to convert at 28.8%, holding them to 36-for-125 on the season. This is the No. 9 mark in the FBS, and even last week against a Texas A&M team that is admittedly way down this season, they held the Aggies to 20% on third down conversion opportunities. Army football means a style that creates a lot of third downs, and the Black Knights will have to be closer to 40% than 20% to win this.
2 – Keep Embracing the Speed
This has been an interesting year for Army. A team usually built on size – lean size at least – to win battles at the line of scrimmage is just not built that way. Instead, this Army team has been using the triple-option in a different way, using the speed of the playmakers on the field to exploit matchups and gain yards. It took a while for the coaching staff to shift their focus in this direction, but Army has been looking better running the ball off tackle and on sweeps than their usual style of pounding it between the tackles. Expect that to continue, though they might get more joy than usual as UMass is one of the smaller teams they will have faced this year.
3 – Don’t Get Caught Looking Ahead
As the two keys above will have shown, this is a game that Army should win. UMass is just not very good in 2022, and there is the reason that the Minutemen haven’t defeated a single FBS school all season. Army won’t be complacent – that is not a word that head coach Jeff Monken allows with his teams – but there is always the risk with a matchup like this that the Black Knights will have one eye on Lincoln Financial Field and the massive matchup with Navy in a couple of weeks. A bowl is important for this squad. Winning here will make the Navy game matter even more with that on the line.