Breaking Down The Army Black Knights
The Army Black Knights will head into Happy Valley to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions for the first time since 1978, where the Nittany Lions handed the Black Knights a 24-3 loss. Although this game won’t match the hype surrounding the annual matchup between the Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen, expect an exciting game from both teams in a sold-out Beaver Stadium.
Important to Know
- Teams: Army Black Knights (1-3, 0-0) Vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1, 1-0)
- Venue: A sold-out Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
- Time and TV: Kickoff 12 p.m. EST on ESPNU
- Weather: A brisk high of 47 accompanied by heavy rain showers
Jeff Monken has served as Army’s head coach since 2014, posting a 5-11 mark since taking over. Do not let the record fool you though, Monken is recognized by Army fans as someone who can revitalize a program that’s recorded 17 losing seasons in 18 years. He’s coached in multiple conferences and divisions, and even has a few National Championship rings in his trophy cabinet after coaching at then-FCS powerhouse Georgia Southern in the early 2000s.
He is a conservative strategist, but enjoys sticking to the traditional and unique play calling system Army is known for, employing the triple option. He utilizes his weapons to the best of his abilities, and can be expected to throw every trick in the book at Penn State come Saturday.
Run. Run. Run.
Expect a trench war this Saturday, as the run game is Army’s predominant source of offensive production. The Black Knights boast four players with more than 100 yards rushing on the season, but the running backs won’t be the only position being used in the run game Saturday. Expect quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who leads the team with 341 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, to lead the charge, setting the offensive tempo as he faces the toughest defensive unit he’ll see all season.
Army’s defensive unit has a few key players in its linebacking corps that have shown flashes of impressive play, but shouldn’t pose too much of a threat for an offensive line that’s executed a complete 180 from its dismal 2014 season. Army’s defensive line is skilled and plays with attitude, but it is heavily outmatched in both physicality and size.
The defense may be smaller and much less physical, but don’t expect the group to play flat. Anticipate these players to fight every single play and lay it all on the line, which means the Nittany Lions cannot be complacent.
Special teams can be overlooked at times, but factor greatly into the final outcome of a game. Special teams play can often make or break a team, and it’s broken the Black Knights more times than not.
Army’s struggled in kicking, returning, and blocking so far in 2015, and has mustered an average of only four yards per punt return, and fewer than 18 yards per kickoff return. These low statistics compiled with a shaky defense is a recipe for disaster. The kicking department isn’t much better, as kicker Daniel Grochowski has only hit one of two total kicks all year. The small sample size stems from the offense failing to give Grochowski enough chances to succeed, but still doesn’t bode well for a kicker who’s only had two opportunities all year. Don’t expect kicking in a hostile environment to aid any woes the unit may be experiencing, either.
Things can’t get much worse for Army, who lost to FCS resident Fordham already this season, but don’t let that fool you — this team will play Penn State tough and physical. Though Army’s offense is somewhat one dimensional, the triple option can be tough to stop once the ball gets rolling. Expect a physical matchup in less than ideal conditions, one that should result in a commanding victory for a Penn State team boasting better athletes playing in friendly confines.