HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. STANFORD

Army meets Stanford on Saturday in Palo Alto. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

Last year Army played one of their best games and battled the then No. 5 ranked Stanford Cardinal for most of three quarters before dropping a hard fought 34-20 game at Michie Stadium. Army used two early defensive three and out series and a turnover to grab an early 6-0 lead. The Cardinal was able to get their offense untracked but the Black Knights hung tough and were down just 20-13 at half time. Army's hopes of pulling the upset ended as their offense struggled through a scoreless third quarter as Stanford extended their lead. The Black Knights have struggled on the road against west coast teams. The Army Black Knights opened the Jeff Monken era with a 47-39 victory against the Buffalo Bulls at Michie Stadium. No. 15 ranked Stanford lost 13-10 after USC's Andre Heidari kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal with 2:30 left to secure the win. The loss broke Stanford's 17-game home winning streak which was the longest in the nation.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
STANFORD PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Army quarterback Angel Santiago threw the ball well in the opener against Buffalo. He was a perfect 6-for-6 for 96 yards. Army's new offensive coordinator Brent Davis did a nice job with his calls in the passing game. Army receivers and slotbacks were at times wide open and uncovered. Angel completed just 49.5 percent of his passes for 559 yards with two touchdown and two interceptions in 2013. Last year's leading receiver Xavier Moss (35 receptions for 463 yards and a touchdown.) was shutout in the opener. Wide Receiver Edgar Poe caught a 29- yard pass in his first start. Last year, Poe leaped and caught for a 6-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left for his only touchdown in 2013 against Stanford. Raymond Maples had two long receptions to set up touchdowns. Kelvin White had three receptions at his new tight end position. Army has four new starters on the offensive line and allowed one sack in eight pass attempts versus Buffalo.

Stanford's 3-4 defense made 43 sacks and picked off 13 passes last fall. Stanford returns both cornerbacks from last year. Alex Carter (58 tackles, INT, 8 PD in 2013) is one of the best cornerback in Pac-12 and Wayne Lyons (69 tackles, 2 INT, 2 PD 2013) is improved as a second year starter. All conference choice Jordan Richards (69 tackles, 3 INTs, 3 PD) returns at strong safety. Despite losing five talented starters the Cardinal are loaded with senior talent up front. Defensive end Henry Anderson is one of the best defensive linemen in the Pac-12. Stanford has posted six sacks in the first two games. The Stanford defense hasn't allowed a touchdown pass in the first two games this season.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
STANFORD RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Black Knights finished third in the nation rushing for over 313 yards per game in 2013. Entering the opener there were concern about the injuries and new starters along the offensive line. The rebuilt offensive line had an excellent game as the Black Knights ran for 341 yards, averaged 6.3 yards per carry and had six different players score seven rushing touchdowns. Army quarterback Angel Santiago (593 rushing yards, 3.5 avg., 10 TDs in 2013) had two costly fumbles that Buffalo turned into ten points but otherwise did a nice job distributing the ball. Co-captain and B-back Larry Dixon had a career high 174 rushing yards on twenty carries. Dixon showed power and speed as he ran for touchdowns of 23 and 45 yards and ripped off another 57-yard run off a fullback option. First team All-Independent senior running back Terry Baggett ran for 1,113 yards, a 7.9 average and eight touchdowns last year. He blocked well and demonstrated his speed on a 41-yard touchdown run versus the Bulls. Slotback Tony Giovannelli (223 rushing yards, 7.4 avg. in 2013) and Raymond Maples both scored on touchdown runs last Saturday. Maples had a key downfield block on Dixon's 23-yard touchdown run.

Stanford's 3-4 defense was ranked third in the country against the run last year. Stanford allowed just 89.8 yard per game last fall. Senior A.J. Tarpley (93 tackles, 5.0 for loss), is the only returning starter from last season at linebacker and is a preseason All-American. At outside linebacker the Cardinal have quick James Vaughters (36 tackles, 4.0 sacks in 2013) now in a starting role along with Kevin Anderson (26 tackles, 6.5 for loss in 2013). In the first two games they have allowed just over 108 rushing yards per game and only one touchdown. The Black Knights had a lot more success running against the Cardinal than even Oregon did last fall. Army rushed for 284 yards, averaged 4.7 yards per carry and scored a touchdown but struggled to finish drives last year against Sanford's talented defense. The physical Cardinal defense knocked Army's two best runners, Maples and Dixon, out of last year's game.

STANFORD PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 180 of 295 passes (61%) for 2,630 yards with 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 2013. Hogan will stretch the field and averaged 8.93 yards per attempt last year. This year he has completed 34 of 46 for 489 passing yards and three touchdowns with one interception.. He has a home run threat in wide receiver Ty Montgomery (61 receptions for 958 yards, 10 TDs in 2013). Montgomery has 14 receptions and a touchdown in the first two games. Hogan has speed at wide receiver in Michael Rector who has six catches for 101, a 16.8 average and a score. Devin Cajuste (28 for 642 yards, 5 TDs in 2013) is another home run threat. Tight end Austin Hooper at 6-4 offers a nice target. Hooper has eight receptions for 124 receiving yards, a 14.5 average and a touchdown so far.

The Black Knights pass defense was ranked 19th in the nation last year. The secondary is the strength of the 2014 Army defense. Sophomore cornerback Josh Jenkins has fine man coverage skills and picked off two passes in the opener. Last year Josh Jenkins was beat on a double move by speedy Ty Montgomery for a 46-yard touchdown. Jenkins rebounded later in the Stanford game by picking off a pass in the end zone. Junior cornerback Chris Carnegie had a huge pick and a 28- yard return against Buffalo that set up Maples touchdown run just before the end of the first half. Carnegie made eight tackles and played one of his best games as he allowed no touchdowns and was solid all day against Stanford's receivers last year. Geoff Bacon had a rough opener. He made a huge mistake by taking far too shallow an angle in the third quarter and getting the Bulls offense started with a big play on a route that never should have gained more than a first down. Bacon had been late to help on a go route on Buffalo's first touchdown pass. He added a dumb unsportsmanlike penalty which drew the ire of his new head coach and landed him on the bench for a few series. Army's defense is designed to avoid big plays and it relies on the free safety keeping the play in front of him. Bacon needs to play better. He is one of Army’s most athletic defender and has made 264 tackles during his West Point career.

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. The Cardinal offensive line features All-American left tackle Andrus Peat and talented right tackle Kyle Murphy. The Cardinal field one of the most highly regarded recruiting classes in the nation on the offensive line. This year, unlike the recent past, the Cardinal will use a running back by committee approach featuring starter fast junior Kelsey Young, senior Remond Wright and Barry J. Sanders the son of one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is mobile.

Army was only 103rdth in the country against the run last year. The Black Knights allowed 216 rushing yards per game. They actually had one of their better days holding up against the run last fall when they held Stanford to 197 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Army's senior front line of Mike Ugenyi, nose guard Richard Glover and Joe Drummond are undersized in the Black Knights new 3-4 scheme. Ugenyi had four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in one of his best games of his career against Stanford in 2013. The linebackers will be comprised of almost all new starters with former USMAPS teammates, sophomores Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf handling the inside spots. Timpf led the team with eleven tackles last week. New Rush linebacker James Kelly has played in 23 games the last two years and has started six games but at a different position. The Black Knights run defense allowed 153 rushing yards as the Bulls averaged 5.3 per carry for the game.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Stanford's senior kicker Jordan Williamson has struggled out of the gate hitting just two-of-five field goal attempts. Last year Williamson was nearly automatic as he converted 18 of 22 attempts. He had 25 touchbacks in 46 kickoffs in 2013. Punter Ben Rhyne averaged 42.9 yards per kick last year. The Cardinal have an outstanding return man in Ty Montgomery who handles kick returns and punt returns. Last year he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and average 30.3 yards per return. He returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown in the opener. Stanford is one of the better teams in the nation in covering kicks.

Junior Daniel Grochowski missed his last two extra point attempts and was benched. In 2013 he made eight of eleven field goal attempts and all his extra points. He had 14 touchbacks on 48 kickoffs. Junior Punter Alex Tardieu had three punts for a 38-yard average. He placed two punts inside the twenty yard line. Josh Jenkins did a nice job downing one punt at the one yard line. His last punt was his worst of the day when it traveled just 28-yards. Jeff Monken spent a lot of time focusing on special teams and it showed. Army kick coverage team was excellent and Chris Carnegie returned a kickoff 33-yards.

COACHING
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: David Shaw is 35-8 since being named Stanford head coach 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.

Jeff Monken was named the 37th head coach in Army football history this off season. Monken led the Black Knights to victory in the home opener but the team needs to tighten up on the false starts, fumbles and penalties. Monken took over the Black Knights after a successful four year tenure as a head coach at Georgia Southern where he posted a 38-16 record (70.4%). His GSU teams made three straight appearances in FCS Semifinals before slumping to 7-4 in 2013. Monken engineered the upset of the year when George Southern went to Florida and beat the Gators 26-20 in the Swamp without completing a pass.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: STANFORD
REMARKS: Army has played some of the West Coast teams on their schedule very tough at Michie Stadium but struggled on the return visiting trip after traveling across the country. The Black Knights have won only one road game since the 2010 victory over SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl. The late start combined with the jet lag may affect the Black Knights. New head coach Jeff Monken was a giant killer last year when his Georgia Southern team beat Florida in the Swamp. He will have his team focused and ready.

Army plays Stanford at the worse time after a rare home loss to USC. The loss broke Stanford's 17-game home winning streak which was the longest in the nation. It hard to see the Cardinal having a let down or not being ready to play after a loss. Stanford has won 34 of its past 38 games played in California. The three losses were Oregon in 2011, USC in November 2013 and last week and Michigan State in last year's Rose Bowl. The Cardinal have won 27 of 29 at home since the start of the 2010 season Last season Stanford was unbeaten at home out rushing opponents by a combined 1,529 yards to 497. As you can tell the Cardinal is very good and especially tough at home. 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.

PREDICTION: Stanford 45, Army 24. The Black Knights have struggled on the road against west coast teams, when they had to travel 3000 miles to the coast. In recent years the Black Knights played San Diego State and Hawaii tough at home only to lose ugly games on the road. I believe that history will repeat itself in California against a talented Stanford team that is loaded. Stanford played their normal base defense last year and Army had some success on the ground. However, the Army defense, especially in the front seven, is woefully outclassed in this one. Army might be able to compete for a half but I see this one all Stanford.

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