Army hosts Morgan State on Friday night. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.

REMARKS: The Black Knights triple option running game ran for a school record 4,438 yards last season. The offense needs to replace four year starting quarterback Trent Steelman, the team's all time career leader in touchdowns. The surprise of the preseason was that junior Angel Santiago won the starting quarterback job by outplaying last years backup and expected starter A.J. Schurr. Angel, after looking rather tentative in limited playing time last season, had a tremendous camp reading the option correctly and avoiding turnovers. Santiago is a quick option quarterback and offers some speed carrying the ball in the open field. He was a lot more efficient handling and distributing the ball this summer than he's was the previous two years. The staff has said it also plans to give A.J. Schurr some playing time at quarterback in the opener.

Santiago will have a number of reliable weapons at his disposal. Senior running back Raymond Maples (1,215 yards, 2 TDs in 2012) and junior fullback Larry Dixon (839 yards, 6 tds in 2012) lead an experienced back field that has run for over four- thousand rushing yards in each of the past two years. Junior running back Terry Baggett had injury issues against this summer but will be ready for the opener. Baggett is slashing, cutback runner with excellent vision who is able to make the first man miss.

Morgan State were ranked 78th in 2012 in the FCS as they struggled stopping the run last year. The Bears allowed 177 rushing yards per game. They lost their leading tacklers from last fall. They are hoping redshirt sophomore linebacker Christopher Robinson, a Second-Team All-MEAC selection, can pick up the slack. Fellow redshirt sophomore nose guard Damarco Brisbee (6 -4, 300) will need to play well if Morgan State hopes to pull the upset. Brisbee is the only holdover on the defensive line from last season when he made 41 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and had 7.5 tackles for a loss. The Bears defensive preparation against the option should benefit from the addition of former long time Army offensive coordinator Greg Gregory to their staff.

REMARKS: New Army quarterback Angel Santiago has completed just 29 percent of his 24 career college pass attempts. It was surprising that he threw the ball better than A.J. Schurr this summer in practice. Santiago looked very good in drills. Angel produced some excellent passing numbers in high school career throwing for 6,900 yards and 57 touchdowns. He's struggled passing the ball during his limited college career appearances. His passes tend to float and he hasn't shown the ability to deliver the ball down the field. It will be interesting to see if his passing success on the practice field this summer can translate to game day.

Santiago will have the chance to throw to wide receiver Chevaughn Lawrence. He was his favorite target at USMAPS in 2010. Lawrence led the team with 21 receptions for 357 receiving yards while averaging 17.0 yards per catch last season. Exciting plebe newcomer Xavier Moss won the other starting wide receiver job with an impressive preseason. Moss was the starting wide receiver last year at the United States Military Academy Prep School. This spring he was a member of the USMAPS track relay team that broke a 74-year-old 4 x 400 meter record at the Penn Relays. Moss demonstrated the ability to get deep and make plays last year at the Prep School.

Morgan State was ranked 79th in the FCS for pass defense last fall. Their young defense took some lumps last year but it should be improved this season. Senior cornerback Joe Rankin is one of the better defensive backs in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Last year he picked off five passes and knocked down 11 passes. Rankin was actually recruited by Army in 2009 after Ellerson was named head coach but he didn't have his grades in order to receive an offer. He has the potential to be a late round NFL draft pick. Fellow cornerback sophomore DeShaun Summers (27 tackles, 8 PD, 2 INT) and junior strong safety Nathan Ayers (50 Tackles, 6 PD, 3 INT) help form a solid group of defensive backs. Linebacker Christopher Robinson, who posted a team leading 8 1/ 2 sacks last season, provides pass rush pressure off the edge.

REMARKS: Morgan State lost their thousand yard rusher from last year, Travis Davidson, who graduated. The returning starters have very little game experience. Redshirt freshman Lamont Brown won the starting running back job this spring. In MSU's final scrimmage he had touchdown runs of 30, 32 and 35 yards. Quarterback Robert Council, if he plays, is mobile and a threat to run. Last fall he ran for 302 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears have a huge offensive line that averages 327 pounds across its front. The line is anchored by big road grader center Clarence Swain (6-2, 360). New offensive coordinator Greg Gregory should help the Bears improve their running game.

The Black Knights young defensive line was dominated last year. The undersized defense allowed 35 rushing touchdowns and 424 points. Army needs junior defensive end Bobby Kough, an honorable mention All Independent player, to step up and build off his strong second half last season. Army has played mostly underclassmen on defense the last two years. The growing pains the defense has suffered needs to start paying some dividends. At nose tackle Richard Glover and T.J. Altimalala will be matched up against Swain. It will be interesting to see how new mike linebacker Alex Meier plays. Meier was used at Rover as a plebe but after his off season knee surgery was moved to Mike. Meier excelled at SAM safety at the Prep School in 2011. The SAM safety and Mike linebacker position are similar in responsibilities in the Double Eagle flex scheme.

REMARKS: Morgan State quarterback situation was unsettled last year with juniors Seth Higgins and Robert Council splitting time. Seth Higgins (6-5, 230) won the starting quarterback job this spring but don't be surprised to see both quarterbacks play on Friday night. Last year Higgins struggled. He completed just 42-of-106 passes (39.6%) for 445 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Robert Council started the final six games at quarterback last year. He completed 98- of-195 passes for 1,115 passing yard. He threw five touchdowns and had four picked off. New offensive coordinator Greg Gregory will run a spread offense. If the Bears can improve their quarterback play they have some speedy targets that can be dangerous. Wide receiver junior Andrew King (5-9, 170) can really fly. Last year he had 25 receptions for 334 yards, a 13.4 avg and scored two touchdowns. Fellow wide receiver Chris Flowers (16 receptions, 198 yards, 1 TD) is a top kick returner and can get deep.

Last year the Black Knights pass defense allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 63.8% of their passes and throw 19 touchdown passes. This should be a better group this year with a year of experience. Athletic junior Geoffrey Bacon (136 tackles) was moved from Mike linebacker to free safety to allow him to see the field better and make more plays. At field cornerback talented plebe Josh Jenkins, last years USMAPS defensive MVP, won the starting job. Chris Carnegie (49 tackles, 3 pass defensed) was been bothered by a nagging injury and SAM safety Hayden Pierce will probably move to cornerback in his place. The quick defensive end has been the glamour position in Rich Ellerson's pressure based double eagle flex defense. Ellerson had the position manned by some impact defensive ends. Ellerson developed NFL star Tedy Bruschi at Arizona, Chris Gocong, a Buck Buchanan winner and NFL veteran, at Cal Poly and Army's honorable mention All-American and all time sack leader, Josh McNary, who was with the Indianapolis Colts this summer. The quick end should be the team's best pass rusher. The new quick end starter is sophomore Dalton Mendenhall (6-3, 225) who is a good athlete. As a pass rusher at Army Prep School in 2011 he was a relentless, big effort player. This defense needs Mendenhall to play well to help generate a pass rush that was missing last year.

REMARKS: Morgan State has a new kicker in redshirt freshman Chris Moller and a punter in Lawrence Forbes. The Bears return game is dangerous with kickoff returners Chris Flowers and Tubotein Taylor. Flowers averaged 27.8 kick return average ranked eight in the FCS last year. He had an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Savannah State. Tubotein Taylor returned eight kickoffs for a 25.5 average. He had a 45 yard kickoff return in the teams' final scrimmage. Speedy Andrew King will handle punt returns.

Sophomore kicker Dan Grochowski won the starting job but struggled with his consistency at times this summer. Last year Grochowski hit 10-of-16 field goal attempts. Army's new punter is sophomore Alex Tardieu. He was the punter at USMAPS in 2010 and he generally gets good hang time on his punts. Senior Julian Crockett (19.2 average) returns as Army's kick returner. The new punt returner will be either athletic plebe Jalen Noble or sure handed senior Scott Williams. Army's coverage teams where generally solid after allowing a kick return touchdown during the opening game last fall.

REMARKS: Morgan State is an FCS team that enters this game off three straight losing seasons. They have struggled in the MEAC so much that Morgan State University President David Wilson established a steering committee to review the current state of the university's football program. Wilson hopes to help Morgan football reclaim its winning legacy. Needless to say this is a must win for Rich Ellerson and the Black Knights. A loss here would probably end Rich Ellerson Army head coaching career. It's that simple.

REMARKS: Rich Ellerson and his staff must win this game. This is not last year's talented FCS Stony Brook but a struggling FCS team coming off a 3-8 season. Ian Shields needs to show his offense can work efficiently and be productive without quarterback Trent Steelman at the helm. Chris Smeland and Payam Saadat need their defense to be sound. Big offensive lines like Morgan State's have had trouble with Army's pass rush stunts and twists in the past.

Morgan State head coach Donald Hill-Eley is entering his 13th season and has compiled a 54-69 record. He was left in limbo after the end of last season before the university made the decision to honor his final year of his contract. Hill-Eley's decision to hire former Army offensive coordinator Greg Gregory was a smart one. Gregory is a versatile coordinator who had success running option attacks at Army and Ohio and spread offenses at South Florida and South Alabama.

PREDICTION: Army, 41-21. Army should run the ball all day on Morgan State. In will be interesting to see how defensive coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland's Black Knights defense performs against the Bears big offensive line with its rebuilt linebacker corps. Morgan State has some speed but lacks a proven quarterback and playmakers to outscore Army in my opinion.

ArmySports.com Top Stories