HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. STANFORD

Army hosts Stanford on Saturday at Michie Stadium. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.

The Army Black Knights return home to face the No. 5 ranked Stanford Cardinal. Army jumped out to an early 7-0 lead last week only to see Ball State (2-0) respond with 37 unanswered points as they were dominated the rest of the game in a 40-14 loss. Defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions Stanford opened their 2013 campaign with a 34-13 victory over a good San Jose State team that went 11-2 last year. Stanford has legitimate hopes for winning the national championship this season.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
STANFORD PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Army's quarterbacks completed just 7-of-20 passes for 76 yards with an interception against Ball State. Starting quarterback Angel Santiago completed just 3 of his 11 pass attempts. Freshman receiver Xavier Moss (4 rec., 85 yards, 21.3 avg. in 2013) has good speed but needs to be more consistent catching the ball. Junior Chevaughn Lawrence led the team with 21 receptions for 357 receiving yards while averaging 17.0 yards per catch last year. He recorded his first career touchdown catch against Morgan State. A.J. Schurr completed 4-of-8 passes for 27 passing yards late in the fourth quarter. Army's offensive line had pass protection breakdowns and allowed four sacks in the first two games.

Stanford led the nation with 57 sacks and the team had 124 tackles for a loss last season. The Cardinal's physical defense sacked San Jose State's top ranked quarterback David Fales four times. Big, fast outside linebacker Trent Murphy (6-6, 264) is on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award watch list after leading the Cardinal with ten sacks last year. This is a big, physical fast front seven who will give the Black Knights fits if they are forced to pass in long yardage situations. The secondary's best player is free safety Ed Reynolds who made 47 tackles, had six interceptions and returned three for touchdowns last fall. Reynolds posted 12 tackles and intercepted a pass in the opener against San Jose State. Strong safety Jordan Richards picked off three passes and defended 15 passes in 2012. Both of the cornerbacks Alex Carter (46 tackles in 2012) and Wayne Lyons (25 tackles, 1 interception in 2012) recorded seven tackles each last week.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
STANFORD RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: The Black Knights rushed for 363 yards, averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns last week against Ball State. Quarterback Aaron Santiago had trouble sustaining drives last week. Ellerson said he may also play A.J. Schurr at quarterback. A.J. carried the ball five times for 41 yards last week. B-back Larry Dixon (839 yards, 6 tds in 2012 ) had a career long 71-yard touchdown run on the opening series last week. The slimmed down Dixon was able to reach the end zone on a long run and wasn't run down from behind like in previous years. Senior running back Raymond Maples (1,215 yards, 2 TDs in 2012) ran for 84 yards and played well last week. Terry Baggett (5 att., 32 yards) showed his speed on two long runs against the Cardinals but had one nullified by a Justin Gilbert illegal block penalty.



Stanford's 3-4 defense was ranked fifth in the country against the run last year. Stanford returns seven senior starters up front. All-American end Ben Gardner (49 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss) and junior Henry Anderson (51 tackles, 13 TFL) leads a powerful defensive line. The Cardinal linebackers are outstanding. Inside linebackers Shayne Skov (81 tackles, 9 TFL) and A.J. Tarpley (66 tackles, 7 TFL) and outside linebacker Trent Murphy (56 tackles, 18 TFL, 10 sacks) are returning starters. Skov and Murphy are on numerous preseason All-America and watch lists. Stanford dominated San Jose State in the opener at the point of attack and held a real good offensive team to just 35 rushing yards. The entire Stanford line is powerful and very physical.

STANFORD RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Stanford is the ultimate power running team. The Cardinal offense often lines up in the power I with three tight ends and it looks to pound the opposing defense into sand. Stanford has one of the best offensive lines in the nation. The line is led by David Yankey who was a consensus All-American and Morris Trophy winner in 2012. Yankey, a two-time All-Pac-12 selection, plays left guard. Right guard Kevin Danser, right tackle Cameron Fleming and Yankey are all candidates on the Outland Trophy watch list. The very talented offense line averages 305 pounds across its front line. The Cardinal had to replace Stepfan Taylor who was the program's all-time leading rusher. Tyler Gaffney (74 att. 449 yards. 7 TDs in 2011) looks up to the challenge as he ran 20 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns against a tough San Jose State defense. Senior Anthony Wilkerson (50 att., 231 yards, 1 TD in 2012) will also see time as Stanford rotates running backs. He ran nine times for 65 yards versus the Spartans last week. Returning starting fullback Ryan Hewitt (14 att., 129 yards, 1 TD in 2012) is a tremendous lead blocker and quarterback Kevin Hogan is mobile.

The Black Knights allowed 115 rushing yards, 3.4 yards per carry and two touchdowns on the ground last week. It was a better effort than the week before against Morgan State. Moving Jarrett Mackey into the starting lineup at whip linebacker helped last week. Mackey made seven tackles and forced a fumble versus Ball State. The nose tackle play of Richard Glover and T.J. Atimalala was better last week but they are over-matched against Stanford. Army's undersized front seven will face one of the best and most physical offensive lines in the nation. Starting quick end starter Dalton Mendenhall has been slow getting off blocks. Look for free safety Geoffrey Bacon to be busy in run support this week.

STANFORD PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 109 of 152 passes (71.7%) for 1,096 yards with 9 touchdowns against 3 interceptions in 2012. Hogan took over as starter late last season and led Stanford to five straight wins over ranked opponents beating Oregon for the Pac-12 title and then Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He completed 17-of-27 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns against San Jose State on Saturday. Hogan lost all his top receivers from last year but don't start a benefit for him since the replacements, while inexperienced, offer plenty of talent. Ty Montgomery (26 rec., 213 yards.) was limited by injuries last season. In the opener he caught four passes for 81 yards and had a touchdown reception. Big wide receiver Devon Cajuste (6-4, 228) had three receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown last week. Speedy wide receiver Kodi Whitfield and huge 6-7 tight end Luke Kaumatule are other targets at Hogan's disposal. Tyler Gaffney is dangerous out of the backfield.

The Army pass defense was unable to match up with Ball State's speed and looked un-athletic upfront as they failed to generate any pressure without blitzing against its prolific passing offense. Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning played pitch and catch with his receivers as he completed 23-of-32 for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman cornerback Josh Jenkins (5 tackles, 2 pass defensed) was the only defensive back to make any plays on the ball but he struggled at times. Cornerback Chris Carnegie (49 tackles, 3 PD in 2012) returned to action but played with a big cushion and was thrown in front of all day. New SAM safety Shaquille Tolbert had a brutal game in coverage. With Ball State's spread passing formation he was often matched up with speedy Jamill Smith and he couldn't run with him. I believe the staff will return Hayden Pierce to SAM safety this week. The front four has struggled to generate any pressure last week. They'll have their hands a full as Stanford has one of the premier offensive lines in the country.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Stanford's junior kicker Jordan Williamson was inconsistent in 2012 as he converted 17 of 27 attempts. He nailed a clutch overtime game winning kick in the upset of then top ranked Oregon. Williamson made two-of-three attempts in the opener. He hit field goals of 48 and 40 yards and missed wide left from 52 yards. Punter Ben Rhyne averaged 41.1yards per kick last year. He didn't have to punt last week and may get the day off again on Saturday. The Cardinal lost outstanding return specialist Drew Terrell. The new punt returner is Kodi Whitfield. Ty Montgomery handles kick returns after averaging over 25 yards per return last year.

The Black Knights special teams had a rough day against Ball State. Kicker Dan Grochowski pushed his only attempt wide right on a 33-yard field goal try. The try didn't have much of a chance after the snap was low. Holder A.J. Schurr did a nice job getting the ball down but the timing was off. Grochowski had a touchback on one of his three kickoffs. New punter Alex Tardieu has averaged 36.8 yards on eight punts while providing very with good hang time. Half of his punts have been fair caught and only one punt was returned for three yards. Senior kick returner Julian Crockett tweaked his hamstring in practice last week and is questionable for Saturday. Larry Dixon has returned five kickoffs for 92 yards. Freshman punt returner Jalen Noble has returned only one punt for three yards. Army's coverage teams, which are usually solid, were guilty of three penalties last week.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Army has won only five games the last two year but they have played the marquee teams on their schedule very tough at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights defeated an eventual bowl bound Northwestern team from the Big Ten in 2011, Boston College from the ACC last year and suffered narrow losses to bowl bound San Diego State in 2011 and Northern Illinois last season. The Black Knights will be playing in front of a packed house at Michie Stadium. Stanford makes a rare cross country trip and will have to travel nearly 3,000 miles to play this game at what would be 9 AM start for them. It would be possible for the Cardinal to take Army lightly and overlook them. However, Stanford is the type of team that takes care of its business. It is a very physical; no nonsense football team that believes it can win a National Championship.

COACHING
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: David Shaw is 24-4 the past two seasons after replacing Jim Harbaugh who left to join the SF 49ers. Shaw had been the Cardinal offensive coordinator and had coached a number of positions. Prior to returning to Stanford in 2007, Shaw spent nearly a decade in the NFL. His team is very physical and aggressive and get after opponents on both sides of the ball.

Rich Ellerson's team performance against Ball State was very disappointing. While too many Army fans were dismissive of Ball State's ability the Black Knights did suffer numerous breakdowns, poor fundamentals, turnovers and eight penalties. Army did not give themselves a chance to succeed last week. Ball State just picked the secondary apart early in the game. On offense Ian Shields has to work with getting Santiago more fluid in his pitch decisions. Some of the personnel decisions can be questioned based on backups out playing some starters once the games start. Based on the fan reaction time is running out on this staff five years after being hired.

PREDICTION: Stanford, 56-7. This game will be ugly. While the Army boo birds will be out for blood after this game, the fact remains that the 2009 Army defense ranked No. 16 in the nation would struggle trying to contain this Stanford offense. It's a terrible match up on paper. Army struggles against the run and this is one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Army has problems protecting the passer and the Cardinals led the nation in sacks last year. Stanford is too big, fast and physical for the Black Knights. Playing a team this skilled is a bridge too far for any service academy team. If you don't believe that look at the game tape from the best service academy team Navy against both Notre Dame and Arizona State last year. The good news is that both teams will run the ball so the clock will move and Army can move on and play the rest of their schedule with at least a chance to win. That chance will not exist this Saturday in my opinion. Stanford is too talented.

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