Key Matchups: Army versus Wake Forest

The third game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 126, 1-1) and the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division Demon Deacons (Sagarin 127, 1-2.) Wake Forest leads the series 9-4, having won the past seven match-ups; with the Deacons prevailing last year 25-11.

Background The third game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 126, 1-1) and the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division Demon Deacons (Sagarin 127, 1-2.) Wake Forest leads the series 9-4, having won the past seven match-ups; with the Deacons prevailing last year 25-11. Wake Forest looks to get on their winning ways before conference play begins in a surprisingly strong ACC. Army looks to rebound from a drubbing in Palo Alto and put themselves in a position for bowl eligibility.

Last Week
In Logan, UT, Wake Forest was limited to -25 yards rushing and 232 yards total offense as Utah State cruised to a 36-24 victory over the Deacons. Both teams had three turnovers, but the Aggies scored two defensive touchdowns and converted a third for a touchdown to give them a commanding 29-7 half time lead.

Wake Forest freshman quarterback John Wolford was 20-50 and had two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He found five different receivers. Freshman tight end Cam Sirigne was his favorite target with seven receptions for 91 yards. The rushing game for Wake Forest was non-existent as they rushed 18 times for seven yards. Wolford was sacked six times for minus 32 yards.

The Wake Forest Defense looked great against the run, limiting the Aggies to 60 yards on 30 carries. They gave up 331 yards in the air as Quarterbacks Chuckie Keeton and Darrell Garretson combined for 31/43 for 287 yards.

In Palo Alto, the Army team played well, but were simply outclassed by #16 Stanford. The Army offense was completely stymied until the Cardinal second string defense entered the game in the fourth quarter. Army had 57 total yards of offense in the first half as they continued to run Larry Dixon into a wall of defenders. On a positive note, Sr. Quarterback Angel Santiago was 2-2 passing, which makes him 8-8 on the year. The Army defense limited Stanford to seven points on their first six possessions until Dixon fumbled on the Army 15. Stanford scored four plays later and the half ended 14-0.

In the second half the defense wore out and Stanford scored on all three of their possessions. Junior quarterback A.J. Schurr entered the game in the fourth quarter. He definitely gets to the outside a step and a half faster than does Santiago. Half of Army’s yards were gained in the fourth quarter, but one drive ended on a Schurr interception and on the other, Army was stopped on a goal line stand.

On the day, no one on offense had good numbers as Dixon, Baggett, Maples and Giachinta were limited to three yards a carry. The offense was only penalized twice and fumbled once against a very good defense. They were also able to hold the ball for 33:36, which is exactly what they wanted to do.

The defense played well. Giving up 415 total yards and 35 points does not sound like a great performance, but they allowed very few big plays. They played one of the better offenses in the country and were not run over. This team held their ground and kept everything in front of them. Stanford made few errors and executed very well. The stand-out defensive players were sophomore linebacker Jeremy Timpf, who had 8.5 tackles, and he was able to hold his own against the Stanford blockers. Sophomore Josh Jenkins, whose family from Pittsburgh, CA showed up in force, was the other stand-out. He made five tackles and broke up three passes. He was always on his man and rarely did QB Kevin Hogan throw his way. If he keeps up with this level of improvement, he may go down as Army’s best Defensive Back ever.

Overall, the team looked better than the score reflected. I think that we are all tired of moral victories, but this team is bigger and stronger than what we have seen in a while. The defense of 2010 was better than this year’s squad, but this team has a chance to be one of the better Army teams, if not the best, since 1996.

Who is favored?
Game is a pick’em

What to look for?
This will be a fantastic game. Wake Forest brings a freshman heavy offense that relies heavily on the pass. Army’s defense is very well suited to contain this team. Look for big performances from the Army linebacker corps which will make their presence known against the Deacon running attack. We believe that the defensive backs will come up big. The Wake Forest receivers are not those of the Cardinal and we think that Josh Jenkins, Soph. Steven Johnson, Jr. Chris Carnegie and senior Geoffery Bacon are going to have a very good day. We expect our grizzled and battle hardened veteran unit to dominate the younger Deacons. We expect their kids to make a few mistakes and the Army Defense to rule the day.

Army’s offense will get back on track against the Deacons. Look for 350 yards on the ground and another 50 in the air. We expect Santiago to continue the astonishing and unbelievable way he has started his season with the passing game. There is perhaps no player in the program, if not the entire nation, in the long and storied history of college football, who has improved as a player more than Santiago. We cannot expect continued perfection, but we expect another phenomenal performance from our quarterback. And in the event he should start to look more like the Santiago we know all too well from past seasons, A.J. Schurr certainly looks capable of picking up the slack and handing the ball off effectively to Larry Dixon often enough to get by.

We have no doubt Army will play a great game and easily handle the Demon Deacons this week, but if we had the slightest bit of concern, it would be that Army rarely follows up a game against a high profile opponent with a good performance, no matter who their next opponent is. It was Army that got smashed to pieces last week, and it has been a long time since any Army team has shown much ability to bounce back after such games and play decently the following week. More typically, the beating administered by a team such as Stanford would have a physical and mental wearing effect that would be too much for the Cadets to overcome. But we believe this is the dawn of a brand new era, under Coach Monken, of greater mental and physical toughness from the Army team, and we believe that things will be different this weekend.

Final Score – Army 35 - Wake Forest 14 (predictions in 2014, 1-1)

Game will be shown on ESPN 3 (Internet) @ 3:30 EST.

ArmySports.com Top Stories