Army hosts Wake Forest 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.
ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
WAKE FOREST PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Angel Santiago
completed 2-of-5 passes for 24 passing yards last week against Stanford
. For the season he is 9 for 24 passing (37.5%) for 174 passing yards and a touchdown with one interception. Santiago threw the ball well in the opener but has not been as effective the last two games. Backup quarterback A.J. Schurr
has completed 8 of 13 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. Junior Chevaughn Lawrence
led the team with 21 receptions for 357 receiving yards while averaging 17.0 yards per catch last year. Lawrence caught a 45-yard pass against Wake Forest last year that set up a touchdown on Army first drive. Army's offensive line did a nice job against Stanford's talented front seven after allowing four sacks in the first two games.
This year the Demon Deacons are ranked 30th in the nation in pass defense efficiency. Nose guard Nikita Whitlock
leads Wake Forest with three sacks. Whitlock missed last year's game against Army. Ryan Powis
needs to play well against him. Senior linebacker Justin Jackson
(81 tackles, 4.0 sacks 2012) is the team's top edge rusher. Senior defensive end Zach Thompson
has two sacks this year. Junior cornerback Merrill Noel suffered through an injury plagued season last year as he missed four games. Noel is one of the best cover coverbacks in the ACC. This season he has made 16 tackles, intercepted a pass and defensed two other throws. The other corner back is junior Kevin Johnson (58 tackles, 3.5 for loss in 2012) has intercepted two passes this year. The Demon Deacon have done a better job generating pressure this year with six sacks in three games.
ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
WAKE FOREST RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Black Knights rushed for 284 yards, averaged 4.7 yards per carry and scored a touchdown last week against the tough, physical Stanford defense. Quarterback Aaron Santiago
has carried the ball 48 times for 211, averaging 4.4 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns this season. Santiago has been conservative if not at times tentative in his pitch decisions. He has the fumbled a mesh exchange in each of the last two weeks. Running back Terry Baggett
ripped off a 46-yard run against Stanford and demonstrated his big play ability and run skills. Raymond Maples
(1,215 yards, 2 TDs in 2012 ) left the Stanford game with an injury. Army missed Maples power running style after he left the Stanford game. Raymond ran for 140 yards last year against Wake Forest but is unlikely to play this week due to a groin injury. Fullback Larry Dixon
scored on a 15-yard touchdown run against Stanford but injured his leg. Dixon, who leads the team with 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns, should play but may be limited. Last year he ran for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Demon Deacons. The good news on the offensive line is that right tackle Momo Kime who also left the Stanford game after being hurt is expected to start. Army, after leading the nation in rushing the past two seasons, is currently ranked seventh overall.
Wake Forest is ranked 46th in the nation in run defense. They've allowed 134 rushing yards on average a game. The defense has allowed only 3.8 yards per rushing attempt and just one rushing touchdown in three games. Wake Forest plays a 3-4 defensive alignment. Their excellent starting nose guard Nikita Whitlock (51 tackles, 5.5 for loss in 2012) is a two-time All-ACC selection. The Demon Deacons have a group of athletic linebackers who are fast and can hit. Senior Mike Olson
(78 tackles in 2012) leads the team with 24 tackles this year and has forced a fumble. Middle linebacker Brandon Chubb
has made 21 tackles and picked off a pass this year. The Black Knights rushed for 429 yards, averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns against Wake Forest last year.
WAKE FOREST PASSING OFFENSE
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Senior quarterback Tanner Price
is a three year starter. After a breakout sophomore season he slumped last year. Price threw for 2,300 yards and 12 touchdowns against 7 interceptions last year. He completed 58.8% of his passes in 2012. His sophomore season he completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns. This year the lefty Price has completed 60 of his 102 passes (58.8 %) for 720 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. Michael Campanaro
leads the team with 21 receptions, 263 receiving yards and scored a touchdown against Boston College
. Last year Campanaro made 79 receptions for 763 yards with 6 touchdowns. After missing the opener he made up for lost time with 16 receptions against Louisiana -Monroe last week. Big wide receiver Jonathan Williams is averaging 15.8 yards per catch (13-206 yards). Speedy Orville Reynolds
(9 catches for 131 yards, 2 TDs) had two touchdown catches against ULM
last week. The Demon Deacons offensive line has struggled protecting Price. They have allowed seven sacks in three games.
Army's defensive backs had no answer for Wake Forest's use of short passes and bubble screens last fall. The Black Knights started three plebes including Chris Carnegie and Alex Meier
that game while cornerback Marques Avery
saw his first game action. Price completed 15 of 24 passes for 221 passing yards and two touchdowns. Army was only able to create any consistent pressure by blitzing and recorded just one sack. Campanaro turned a screen pass into a 41-yard touchdown. He was unstoppable as he made 12 catches for 153 yards and scored twice. Price threw 47 times for 310 yards and two scores against ULM after the Demon Deacons focusing on running the ball the first two games this year. Chris Carnegie (8 tackles) played one of his best games against Stanford. Plebe cornerback Josh Jenkins (3 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 pass defensed) was beat for two touchdowns but had a nice interception in the end zone. Leading tackler Geoff Bacon has to be careful about being too aggressive in run support. At times he's bit on play action and failed to provide deep help which is his responsibility. The Black Knights should match up better in the secondary this Saturday than they did last year. The Double Eagle flex had two sacks against Stanford. They need to pressure Wake Forest more than they did last season.
WAKE FOREST RUSHING OFFENSE
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Wake Forest has struggled to establish the run this year averaging just 2.4 yards per rushing attempt in the first three games. While that looks like a weakness remember that last year the Demon Deacons entered last year's game averaging just 1.9 yards per carry in the first three games. Wake Forest then promptly ran for 296 yards, averaged 7.8 yards per carry and scored 5 touchdowns against the Black Knights. Wake Forest has struggled trying to become a more run based team using the option out of a spread passing attack. They have struggled to establish the run but the Demon Deacons do average 307 pounds across their offensive line. The ACC line dominated Army's defensive line last fall despite entering the game with even less rushing success than they have this season. Speedy tailback Josh Harris
(608 yards in 2012) leads the team with just 55 rushing yards on 25 carries as he's averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. Last year Harris ran for 129 yards on 12 carries, averaging 10.8 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns against Army. Similarly tailback Deandre Martin
has averaged just two yards a carry this year but ran for a career high 115 yards and two touchdowns against Army last fall. Redshirt freshman Dominque Gibson who has run 13 times for 26 yards this season is listed as the starter this week on the depth chart.
This is an interesting game for the Army defensive front seven. They have played much better as a unit the last two weeks against the run. Nose tackle Richard Glover
(6 tackles, 1 sack, one fumble recovery) has played well since being named starter against Ball State
. Glover has been disruptive at times and has been able to get penetration. The bigger key in the improvement of the run defense is Jarrett Mackey
starting at whip linebacker over James Kelly
. Mackey is moving a lot better another year removed from knee surgery. He's done a nice job filling the run lanes. Last year the Black Knights run defense was pathetic against Wake Forest. One of the positive signs of the improved run defense is that Geoffery Bacon
has made ten tackles the last two games at free safety after having to make 16 tackles in the opener. I believe Army, based on what I saw last week, can win this match-up due to the Demon Deacons offensive line issues. However based on last year's results I'll call it even.
REMARKS: Special teams: Sophomore Chad Hedlund
has hit 4-of-6 field goal attempts this year with a long of 38 yards. All-conference punter Alexander Kinal has averaged 39.8 yards per punt and has had ten punts fair caught due to his excellent hang time. Wake Forest doesn't offer much in the return game and their special teams allowed four touchdown returns in 2012.
Kicker Dan Grochowski
earned FBS Independent Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against Stanford. Grochowski hit two field goals including a career long 48-yarder. I wish Rich Ellerson
would stop asking punter Alex Tardieu to directional kick. He shanked a few the last two weeks. Tardieu usually gets good hand time on his punts. On the season he's averaged 35 yards on 12 punts. Army hasn't seen much production from their punt and kickoff returns this season. The coverage team's performance has slipped from last season so far.
REMARKS: This is a pivotal game for both teams. Wake Forest fans, before the start of the season, were hoping to finish this September with a perfect or at worse 3-1 record. Instead they need to win to avoid a disastrous 1-3 start this weekend. Grobe laid down a marker for his team stating, "We've got to win Saturday. I don't think there's any question about it. It's going to be tough if we don't win Saturday and then heading to Clemson
the next week is not going to be good." The Demon Deacons lead the all-time series with the Black Knights, 8-4.
Army needs build off their performance against Stanford and win this game if they hope for a successful season. Only two of the next five games are at home following this week. We know how Army has struggled on the road. A win here against an ACC opponent would be a huge lift for a program that has won just six games the past two plus seasons. Army was beat up physically against Stanford and have a number of key players are hurt.
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Jim Grobe is in his thirteenth season as head coach of Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had
won just 26 victories in the eight seasons prior to his arrival. In 2006 under his direction they won their first ACC title since 1970. Grobe coached at Navy
and ran the option at Ohio
when he was head coach there. He has plenty of experience defending the option against both Georgia Tech
, Navy and Army last year since he's been at Wake Forest. After going 28-12 from 2006-2008 the Demon Deacons have not posted a winning season in the last four years.
Rich Ellerson's took the right approach this week of having his team focus internally on themselves after a terrible performance against Ball State on the road. Under Ellerson the Black Knights have played the marquee teams on their schedule very tough at Michie Stadium. That trend continued as they played a terrific game and hung tough against Stanford. The staff believes that Angel Santiago manages the game better than A.J. Schurr at quarterback right now. Santiago needs to reward their confidence by being more productive. The Black Knights need to build off last week's effort.
: Army, 31-28. I think Army can pull the upset at home. Wake Forest is more talented but it looks like some of the young Army defensive players they shellacked last fall have grown up the last few weeks. Army is hopeful they can limit the Demon Deacons running game much like all the other opponents have so far this season. They seem to match up better against the Wake Forest passing game this year. Missing Maples who had a huge game against the Demon Deacons last year hurts but I am hopeful Baggett can pick up the slack.