Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Army Football Preview: Scouting Report

Army is on a bye this week.  While the team resets for the next part of the season, let’s turn our attention to some of this week’s critical match-ups.
The thing is, Army didn't play that badly last Saturday.  They just missed
a last-second chip-shot field goal.

Connecticut at #6 Houston (Thursday at 8:00 PM, ESPN)
Connecticut is almost certainly going to get smoked in this one, but they’re still my local team.  Considering that UConn has a state-level scholarship program for Honors STEM students, I can’t imagine that I’ll get away without having at least one of my girls attend college in Stores.  That means that we’re de facto UConn fans in waiting.
I wish Army would put UConn back on its schedule.  The Yankee Stadium game two years ago was an absolute classic, and the programs are both well into their rebuilding phases.  This has been a good matchup.
Virginia at Duke (Saturday at 12:30 PM, ESPN3)
Army is at Duke next week, so this is a critical chance to scout our next opponent.  The Blue Devils don’t look to have the kind of elite, doomsday defense they had a year ago--they and Notre Dame both gave up over 500 yards of offense last week--but they’ve certainly given the Black Knights trouble in the recent past.  It defies imagining to believe that Head Coach David Cutcliffe won’t have his team ready when Army comes to town.  
I don’t know how Virginia is doing this year, but this game ought to be an interesting test case leading into next week’s contest.
#14 Tennessee at #12 Georgia (Saturday at 3:30 PM, CBS)
You don’t have to watch this one if you don’t want to, but as the son of two Tennessee grads and the grandson of another Tennessee grad, I kind of have to.  Butch Jones has such a talented team, and they always seem to come up big at the end of the year.  However, they have been streaky as Hell in the early-going the last few years, and last week’s Florida game was a near-abomination despite their second half heroics.  The Bulldogs haven’t looked as good, but they always play Tennessee tough, and this is a conference game that both teams badly need to win.
Deep Scouting: Army has a one-and-one series with the Vols starting at Neyland Stadium in 2022.  We’re back at Michie in 2023.  I’ve already seen Volunteer fans on Twitter getting excited about the chance to visit West Point, so you know they’ll be ready.
Navy at Air Force (3:30 PM, CBS Sports)
With the Commander’s-in-Chief contests fast approaching, this is our first chance to get a good look at Army’s most important rivals.  The game is at Air Force, and I think Air Force tends to have the bigger home field advantage, owing to their stadium’s altitude.  Under Keenan Reynolds, however, the Mids did very well for themselves.
I confess that I usually root for Air Force in these contests.  Not only because Navy is Navy but also because I think that the Falcons’ aerial version of the triple-option is one of the most interesting offenses in college football.  In this particular contest, I would very much like to see how Navy’s backup quarterbacks handle the pressure of competing against a team who knows exactly what they bring to the table.
Wake Forest at NC State (3:30 PM, ESPN3)
Another critical late-afternoon matchup.  I’m surprised that this one isn’t going to be carried somewhere on regular cable, although maybe enough people are streaming sports by now that it no longer matters.  
Regardless, Wake Forest is another upcoming Army opponent that’s having a very good season, also using a two-quarterback system.  Army fans ought to remember current quarterback starter Kendall Hinton’s collegiate debut because it came against the Black Knights last year in Michie Stadium and included a last minute drive that cost Army the game on a last-minute field goal. Wake’s other quarterback is John Wolford, who is more of a pocket passer, but he’s an experienced player who’s got a career completion percentage above 60%.
Wake has struggled the last few years with protecting its quarterbacks, but they beat Illinois just last week.  The real question is this: How much better is their offensive line?
Middle Tennessee at North Texas (7:00 PM)
If this one is anywhere on TV, I’ve not found a listing for it.  The fact that ESPN doesn’t even plan to send an Internet crew down there probably tells you all that you need to know about the game itself.  However, Army plays North Texas on October 22nd, and the Mean Green appear to be quite a bit improved over previous seasons.  That’s not to say that they are good, necessarily, but if there’s a write-up of this contest after the game, I plan to read it for whatever details are available.

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