Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Army Football Preview: at Wake Forest

I think we’re all ready to move on after last week’s game at Stanford.  As I wrote on SundayArmy’s defense played a good game, but the team itself was as overmatched as one might expect when facing one of college football’s truly elite schools.  This was especially evident given that Stanford’s strength is its run defense.  Without any appreciable offense, Army’s defense eventually broke down, leaving the team at a loss for answers.

Thankfully, the Army Team is now back to competing in its own weight class.  Army travels to Wake Forest on Saturday to face the ACC’s Demon Deacons.  The game is at 3:30 pm on ESPN3, which means that you’ll need a spare HDMI cable to connect your laptop to your TV in order to see it on a big screen.  I’m personally thinking of taking my TV outside and setting it by the fire pit, so the kids and I can watch the game while we roast marshmallows.  You can do that too if you’ve got WiFi and a long extension cord.  As of this writing, Army is favored by 2.5 points.
Army is currently averaging 67 yards passing and 269.5 yards rushing per game.  That’s good for 127th and 19th place, respectively.  After two very different contests, the Army Team is ranked 97th in points for with an average of 23.5 points per game and 113th in points against with an average of 37.  Considering that last week saw a 35-0 blowout against an elite passing offense, that’s actually not as bad as it sounds.  I continue to think that the Army Team has a good defense, particularly in its secondary.  If the team can get its offense to stop laying the ball on the ground in critical spots, this season could still turn out to be something special.
Wake Forest is 1-2, sitting one game out of last in the ACC Atlantic Division by virtue of the fact that neither of its losses have come via divisional games.  The Demon Deacons lost to the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in week 1, beat the Gardiner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs in week 2, and then lost again to the Utah State Aggies in week 3.  It’s hard to know what to make of that.  Utah State is clearly the best team Wake Forest has played, and in that game, Wake got down early by virtue of allowing two interceptions returned for touchdowns.  The Deacons then rallied in the 3rd to make things interesting but allowed another Aggie touchdown later in the 3rd that effectively put the game out of reach.  Most telling, then, is the fact that the Demon Deacons have a true freshman at quarterback in John Wolford, currently 62-110 (56.4%) for 645 yards, 4 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and 14 sacks.  That is an awful lot of sacks in just three games.  In the 3rd quarter against Utah State Wolford showed that he can play, but I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that he’s susceptible to making mistakes when he’s under pressure.  More to the point, it seems like he’s under pressure a lot.

Wake Forest: Dignity, Class, Integrity
Army got into the red zone four times against Wake Forest last year but never quite punched it in, and they wound up losing 25-11.  I remember the game being a back and forth contest until Wake Forest hit a 66-yard passing play late in the first half that threw Army all out of whack.  The Army Team never quite recovered.  This year Wake Forest has a new quarterback, and Army has a much improved secondary, so I doubt history repeats itself.  However, if Army can’t hold onto the ball in the critical moments, they could still very easily lose the game.  Wake Forest isn’t a bad squad; they’re young.
This is a game that Army needs.  West Point’s primary bowl affiliation is to the Lockheed-Martin Armed Forces Bowl, held January 2nd on the campus of Texas Christian University.  To be eligible for the game, Army needs six wins before the Army-Navy game.  Buffalo is one, and I think the Army Team has an excellent chance against both Yale and Fordham.  If this Army Team is better, if this is the team of winners that we want and expect it to be, then they win this weekend against a weakened squad with a true freshman at quarterback, and that sets them up for a run at the post-season.  Army fans understand that the team isn’t necessarily going to beat Stanford, but enough is enough.  Now is the time.  The future is here.
There is no substitute for victory.

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