Key Matchups: Army vs. Wake Forest

The third game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 126, 0-2) and the Atlantic Coast Conference North Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Sagarin 101, 2-1.) Wake Forest leads the all-time series 7-4 with the Deacons winning the last five dating back to 1990

The third game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 126, 0-2) and the Atlantic Coast Conference North Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Sagarin 101, 2-1.) Wake Forest leads the all-time series 7-4 with the Decons winning the last five dating back to 1990. The last time these two teams met was 2007 and Wake Forest prevailed 21-10. This will be an interesting game as Wake Forest looks to rebound from a thrashing at the hands of Florida State and Army looks to turn the tide after a tough loss against Northern Illinois.

Last Week

At West Point - Astonishing. The only way to describe the events witnessed on the turf at Michie Stadium this past Saturday. For the casual fan, it was an extraordinarily entertaining game. For those of us who live and die with this football program, it was the most unbelievable, incomprehensible defeat we have yet witnessed in the Rich Ellerson era, or any era, for that matter. How is it possible to:

1) Rush for 486 yds.
2) Have a time of possession advantage of 42:33 to 17:27
3) Be +3 in turnover ratio

and lose????

Army found a way. Here is how they accomplished a nearly impossible feat:

1) In the first half, not counting a kneel-down on the last play of the first half, they allowed Northern Illinois to rack up 298 yards on 17 plays in just 5:42. That is a whopping 17.5 yards allowed per play, or around 50 yards allowed per minute. Five of the 17 plays went for 21 yards or more, including a 69-yard TD pass, and an 88 yard TD run. We have belabored the point about the defensive front being undersized, but this goes beyond any deficiency in personnel. This was such a disgraceful display of team defense that they could not have done any worse if they had not even bothered to put a defensive unit on the field at all. There is something very wrong with the defensive scheme when one play after another is getting broken for a big gain.

2) Four more fumbled or bobbled snaps, plus two mishandled pitches. Although one of the bobbled snaps was on a play that resulted in a Trent Steelman TD run, each of the other errors killed drives. Add to those mistakes three illegal shift penalties when the slotbacks went in motion at the same time. Each of these penalties hurt drives. They continue to struggle with the basics and fundamentals.

3) Well, usually when you botch an extra point it comes back to haunt you. In this instance one point was the difference.

Offensively, Army was greatly improved from the previous week. Raymond Maples gained 159 yards and 1 touchdown on 23 carries, Larry Dixon gained 136 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries and Terry Baggett gained 38 yards on 3 carries until he left the game. Trent Steelman returned to his previous self with 116 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 27 carries. Steelman however was only 1 for 3 for 8 yards.

The offense was successful, but on the final drive of the game, the Army team stalled at mid-field and turned the ball over. While the running game could not have been much better, the passing game is non-existent. When a team gains nearly 500 yards in a game, it should not matter, but when a team stacks the line and closes in their safeties and corner backs, it would be nice to have some sort of confidence in the passing game. Ellerson's offense at Cal Poly threw the ball nearly 40% of the time, whereas his offense at Army passes 5% of the time and completes a pass 2% of the time. This probably has to do a lot with the skillset of the Army players and the caliber of the defenses at the FBS level. Nevertheless, Army should throw the ball early in the game, in non-passing situations, so that when they do need to complete a pass, it won't be such an extraordinary event.

In Tallahassee, running back, Chris Thompson rushed for 197 yards on just 9 carries, with scores from 74 and 80 yards as the Seminoles blew out Wake Forest 52-0.

Wake Forest managed just 127 yards and 7 first downs. Quarterback Tanner Price was 8 for 22 for 82 yards. Josh Harris rushed 15 times for 51 yards. The score was 38-0 at the half. Wake Forest could not muster a score off of Florida State's second team in the second half.

What to look for?
This will be a very interesting match-up; one of football's worst defenses versus one of football's worst offenses. Wake Forest's offense is amongst the league's worst averaging just 16 points per game. They rank 79th in passing at 219 yards per game and rank 117th in rushing yards per game; granted their numbers are greatly skewed with last week's performance. Army's defense thus far is horrendous averaging 41.5 points per game, which is ranked 119th in the country. Look for a host of freshmen to play for the Cadet defense as speed is becoming more important than experience.

Wake Forest has not faced a wishbone offense in 2 years, since they faced Navy in the sixth game of the 2010 season and this should help Army's offense. Wake Forest has a large offensive line and should be able to run the ball, however they will probably run their normal offense, which Army may be able to defend. Look for a very competitive game. Let's hope Army can once again win the turn-over battle and win this one.

Who is favored?
Wake Forest is favored by 7.5 points

Final Score – Wake Forest 28 – Army 24
(Predictions this year 0-2)

Game will be shown on the ACC Network and ESPN3. Top Stories