HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. HAWAII

Army visits Hawaii on Saturday 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.

The Army Black Knights travel almost 5,000 miles this week to face the winless Hawaii Warriors. Army enters the game following a three week break after their disappointing 21-17 last minute loss to Western Kentucky at Michie Stadium on Senior Day. Army has lost three straight games and their record has dropped to 3-7. Hawaii has struggled through a difficult season. They are currently one of four winless teams in the FBS this year. They have better talent than their record indicates. The Rainbow Warriors suffered a 59-56 overtime loss against Wyoming last Saturday. It was Hawaii's second straight overtime loss and fifth loss by seven points or less this season.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
HAWAII PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Angel Santiago has completed 52.1 percent of his passes for 512 passing yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Santiago has completed 64 percent of his pass attempts the last two games. Offensive coordinator Ian Shields has called a lot more high percentage throws the last month. Wide receiver Xavier Moss leads the team with 27 receptions for 341 yards, a 12.6 avg., and a touchdown. Chevaughn Lawrence (8 rec., 77 yards, 1 TD) hasn't made much of an impact since returning to the starting lineup after an injury. The Black Knights offensive line is ranked 116th in the nation in sack percentage. If forced to pass they could have trouble against Hawaii's front line that has posted 22 sacks.

The Hawaii passing defense ranks 120th in the nation allowing opponents almost an average of 292 yards per game. The Rainbow Warriors defensive backs have been a huge disappointment this year. Their defensive statistics are odd. Hawaii ranks second nationally with 91 tackles for loss and has forced 22 turnovers this season yet have allowed a lot of yards and points. Strong safety John Hardy-Tuliau is a long time starter. Last week he made 12 tackles against Wyoming. This season Hardy- Tuliau has 66 tackles, including 7 1/2 for loss and six pass breakups. Cornerback Ne'Quan Phillips (58 tackles, 2 interceptions) made six tackles last week at Wyoming. Free safety Marrell Jackson (33 tackles, INT) is one of the most talented players in the secondary. He's missed two games this year but is now healthy. Freshman safety Trayvon Henderson is a ball hawk and has intercepted three passes. Junior defensive end Beau Yap leads the team with 5 ½ sacks. Last year Yap made 37 tackles with 10 1/2 tackles for a loss.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
HAWAII RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: The Black Knights are leading the nation in rushing. Army is averaging over 337 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Angel Santiago (530 rushing yards, 3.6 avg., 8 TDs) has done a solid job orchestrating the offense but hasn't been very explosive or effective as a runner. He hasn't rushed for over 100-yards since the opener. Last year's starter Trent Steelman, by contrast, ran for over 100-yards seven times in 2012. Santiago hasn't rushed for more than 61 yards in the last five games. Army's running attack missed fullback Larry Dixon (672 yards, 6.6 avg., 6 TDs) last game. The Black Knights hoped to have Hayden Tippett back in the lineup at B-back on Saturday but he may need more time. Plebe Aaron Kemper (44 yards, 3.7, 1 TD) moves from running back to fullback to help out sophomore Matt Giachinta (77 yards, 3.3 avg., 1TD). Kemper was the 2012 USMAPS MVP at fullback. Running back Terry Baggett (991 yards, 8.5 avg., 8 TDs) is closing in on a thousand yard season. He should become the 16th Black Knight to reach that single season milestone. Junior Trenton Turrentine (360 yards, 6.5 avg., TD) is listed as questionable for Saturday but will probably start. Running back Tony Giovannelli made his first career start against Western Kentucky. He ran six times for 82 yards and ripped off a 68-yard run.

Hawaii's 4-2-5 defense is ranks 100nd in the nation allowing over 209 rushing yards a game. The Hawaii defense is led by senior linebackers Art Laurel (73 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, INT) and Brenden Daley (83 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 2 FF). SAM safety Jerrol Garcia-Williams is active in run support with 65 tackles. Defensive tackles Siasau Matagiese (37 tackles, 5 TFL, sack) and Marcus Malepeai (38 tackles, 1 1/2 TFL, sack) are both big and athletic. Despite their athleticism Rainbow Warrior defense is allowing 38.5 points per game. Hawaii struggled against Navy's triple option attack earlier this month. Navy ran for 381 rushing yards, a 6.3 average and scored five rushing touchdowns. Hawaii used a 3-3-5 defense which gave the Mids some trouble early in the game. Navy was able to establish the midline option and their quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for what was then a career high 224 rushing yards.

HAWAII PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: HAWAII
REMARKS: Senior quarterback Sean Schroeder has completed 210 of his 343 (61.2%) pass attempts for 2,638 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Hawaii is averaging 299.5 passing yards per game. They have the 19th best passing attack in the country. Again these are numbers that don't usually equate to a winless team. Schroeder threw for a career high 499 yards and six touchdowns in the loss last week against Wyoming. Schroeder has thrown for over 300 passing yards five times this year. Hawaii's offensive passing statistics can be misleading. Hawaii struggled out of the gate with a different quarterback the first three games. In the seven games Schroder's started Hawaii has averaged 34.9 points per game. Senior wide receiver Chris Gant is tied for the team lead with 51 receptions for 857 yards and nine touchdowns. Gant is a legitimate deep ball threat with six catches of 40 yards or more. Gant had 174 receiving yards and four touchdowns versus Wyoming last week. Junior Scott Harding is the team's co-leader in catches with 51 receptions for 537 yards. The 27-year old Harding is from Australia and had played six years of Australian Rules football before joining the Warriors. Senior wide receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann (19 rec., 278 yards, 14.6 avg., 4 TDs) had his streak of 30 straight games with a reception snapped last week. Tight end Clark Evans is another reliable target with 37 catches for 358 yards, a 9.7 average and four scores. Hawaii rotates a lot of receivers in the passing game. Eleven different Hawaii players have double digit receptions and eight of those players have caught a touchdown pass.

The Black Knights pass defense is ranked 33rd in the nation. Army is allowing 214 passing yards a game. That looks better on paper than it actually is since the opposition has attempted the fewest number of passes against Army (22.2 per game) than any other team in the nation. The Black Knights pass defense was helpless during late drives by Air Force and Western Kentucky. Josh Jenkins (24 tackles, 2 INT, 7 PD) has hit a bit of a plebe wall the last few games but has played well. Fellow cornerback Chris Carnegie (35 tackles, PD) had two rough games in a row. Against Air Force he drew two pass interference penalties that gave the Falcons first downs. Chris, in the game versus Western Kentucky, never picked up the receiver on a key third-and-21 as the receiver ran just past the first down marker for an easy catch. Three plays later Willie McNeal caught a short hitch route and stumbled. Carnegie hesitated then took a poor angle and missed the tackle allowing a touchdown. SAM safety Shaquille Tolbert (43 tackles, INT, 2 PD) was beat for two long completions during Western Kentucky's game winning drive. Tolbert will be challenged by Hawaii's slot receivers and needs to play better. Co-Captain Thomas Holloway (59 tackles, INT, 2 PD) made a terrific diving interception in the end zone off a tipped pass last game. Holloway was a welcomed addition back in the lineup at Rover after missing a few games with an injury.

HAWAII RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: HAWAII
REMARKS: The Warriors offensive line struggled trying to establish the run until powerful 245-pound running back Joey Iosefa returned to the lineup. Iosefa, who had been out almost the entire year, returned against Navy. He ran for 191 yards against the Midshipmen. Iosefa then followed that effort with 150 yards against San Diego State and 91 yards against Wyoming. Hawaii was averaging a pathetic 73 yards per game while Iosefa was out. Iosefa is a big, surprisingly quick, physical running back who is difficult to bring down. Iosefa, despite starting just three full games, leads the team with 436 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He is the type of running back that Army's undersized defense has struggled tackling the past few years.

Army is ranked 90th in the country against the run. They are allowing over 194 rushing yards per game. The Black Knights run defense did a terrific job against Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews last game. Andrews was the leading rusher in the nation entering the contest. The Black Knights were the first team all year to hold Andrews under five yards a carry and allowed his third lowest (117 yards) rushing yardage this year. Overall the Army defense allowed just 135 rushing yards, 3.4 yards per carry and a touchdown. They will need a similar big effort against Hawaii's Joey Iosefa. Free safety Geoffrey Bacon (46 tackles) looked to be in top form against WKU despite playing with a cast. He was huge in run support and brought speed and a physical presence back in the lineup. Mike Linebacker Colby Miller (39 tackles, 4 TFL, sack) did a nice job filling the running lanes against Andrews. The Black Knights' defense needs to wrap up when tackling Iosefa or he will literally run over them.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: HAWAII
REMARKS: Kicker Tyler Hadden has hit 7 of 12 field goal attempts and 29-of-30 of his extra points. Hawaii uses both rugby style punter Scott Harding who is averaging 40.7 on 53 punts and traditional punter Ruben Guzman who averages 40 yards per punt. Scott Harding also handles punts and averages 8.4 on punt returns. Chris Gant is averaging 21.6 on kickoff returns. Hawaii does a solid job on coverage teams.

Army kicker Dan Grochowski has hit 8-of-11 field goal attempts this season. A special team's penalty cost him a 51-yard field goal and the team three points against the Hilltoppers. Punter Alex Tardieu is averaging 37.7 yards on 40 punts. Army ranks dead last in the FBS in kick returns averaging just 14.8 yards per kickoff return. The punt return game is even worse. Scott Williams is averaging just 3.1 yards per punt return. Williams finally had some blocking to return a punt a season long 12 yards last game. Army's kick and punt coverage has been inconsistent all season.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: HAWAII
REMARKS: The winless Rainbow Warriors return home after two bitter overtime losses. Despite the adversity the Rainbow Warriors haven't quit. Hawaii coach Norm Chow said San Diego State coach Rocky Long told him after their game, that "he's never seen a group of kids play so hard given the circumstances". This will be their bowl game to avoid a winless season. Hawaii is 2-0 all-time against Army. I expect Hawaii to play hard and compete. They are playing their best football of the season.

The Black Knights badly need a win after three consecutive losses. Rich Ellerson once left the Naval Academy as a student after visiting Hawaii where he played and later coached. If he losses to another winless team in Hawaii he just might be forced to leave West Point after the season. I believe it's a huge game for Ellerson if he hopes to make the case for another year. Army does not want to be the first team to lose against Hawaii this year. During the Ellerson era, in games out West, against San Diego State and Air Force the Black Knights have been outscored 119-42. This game is an 11:30 PM Eastern Standard Time start for a team that gets up at 6:00 AM to practice.

COACHING
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Norm Chow is 3-20 in his second season as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors. Chow had been a highly regarded offensive coordinator and quarterback guru at Brigham Young, N.C. State , USC and UCLA. Chow has mentored quarterbacks like Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Detmer, Palmer and Leinart all won the Heisman. Chow's also served as the offensive coordinator in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans. He has been unable to get his team hitting on all cylinders this season despite having some decent talent.

This is a homecoming for Rich Ellerson. He played and coached at Hawaii. Ellerson's football career began at Hawaii. After visiting this paradise on earth he left the Naval Academy and played center and linebacker for Hawaii. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant here. He later returned as a special teams coach (1981-1983) and then as the defensive coordinator (1987-1991) when Paul Johnson was running the offense. Ellerson had his team well prepared against WKU. This game will be a huge challenge with the long flight, the three week layoff and the number of Army players who will miss the game. Ellerson's future at Army may be impacted by what happens on Saturday. Ellerson needs this game. In a recent stretch where the Black Knights played three teams with a combined 2-17 record and they won only one game.

PREDICTION: Hawaii, 38-24. I hate to say it but I don't like this match-up at all for the Black Knights. Hawaii may be winless but they have a quarterback who threw for 499 yards last week. They have a huge bruising running back that is averaging 144 rushing yards a game since returning to the lineup. They have an athletic defense who is ranked 4th in the country in tackle for losses and has 22 take- aways. They have more talent than Army but just aren't well coached. Army's running game enters the game without Dixon and Maples is already on the shelf. The defense has been run over by power-backs the last three years. The Black Knights have won just one road game since 2010. They haven't played well after layoffs. The kickoff will start an hour after the player's normal lights outs. You can add in jet lag after a nearly 5,000 mile flight. I hope I'm wrong but I think Hawaii we win this one.

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