Army visits Wake Forest on Saturday in Winton-Salem, N.C.
ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical
areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.
travels to North Carolina to face the Wake Forest
Demon Deacons from the ACC. The Black Knights were outclassed last week by No. 15 ranked Stanford
in dropping a 35-0 decision in Palo Alto, California. Wake Forest is coming off a 4-8 season and has a new head coach in Dave Clawson. Last year Army lost an ugly game to Wake Forest at West Point. Army's defense played one of their better first halves as the Black Knights grinded their way to a 11-10 lead but Wake Forest scored the final 15 points of the game to secure an 25-11 victory in a defensive struggle. The (1-2) Demon Deacons lost almost all their impact talent on offense and some on defense and is rebuilding this year. Army has never beaten Wake Forest in five road trips to North Carolina.
ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
WAKE FOREST PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Army quarterback Angel Santiago
is a perfect 8-for-8 with 109 passing yards in 2014. It’s a small sample size but Angel has a 214.45 passing efficiency rating. Wide receiver Edgar Poe
(2 for 39 in 2014) caught a first down pass against Stanford. Last year's leading wide receiver Xavier Moss
(35 receptions for 463 yards and a TD) has been shutout so far this season. Kelvin White
has three receptions for 15 yards at tight end position. Army has four new starters on the offensive line and has allowed two sacks in 12 pass attempts.
Wake Forest’s 4-2-5 defense is ranked 40th in the nation. Wake is allowing 20 points per game. The Demon Deacons have two talented cornerbacks in senior Merrill Noel (53 tackles, three interceptions in 2013) and Kevin Johnson (58 tackles, three interceptions in 2013). Strong safety Ryan Janvion
(95 tackles in 2013) made a career high 18 tackles and broke up a pass against Utah State
last week. Senior safety Anthony Wooding
Jr., has made 18 tackles. He played two years at Air Force
before transferring to Wake Forest. Sophomore defensive tackle Josh Banks was named the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week last week. Banks had seven tackles, a sack, an interception and two tackles for loss in a 36-24 loss at Utah State on Saturday. Banks intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. Demon Deacons have recorded eight sacks this year.
ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
WAKE FOREST RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Black Knights ran for 198 yards, averaged 3.5 yards per carry and didn't score against Stanford's talented defense. Those numbers were padded by some late rushing yards against Stanford's second team defense. Army's offensive line was dominated by Stanford up front. Last year they ran for 284 yards against a better Stanford defense but the new offensive line was badly outplayed this game. The tackles Drew Hennessy
and Todd McDonald
really struggled and were at times pushed back in the backfield and rarely sealed the edge. Center Matt Hugenberg
couldn't establish the fullback. The offensive line, after a nice game in the opener and struggling against Stanford, is facing a key game this week to determine where this rebuild offensive line is at this point. Army quarterback Angel Santiago (593 rushing yards, 3.5 avg, 10 TDs in 2013), leading rusher and "B" back Larry Dixon
and 2013 first team All-Independent running back Terry Baggett
had no running room last week.
Wake Forest uses a 4-2-5 zone-based scheme that has allowed only two rushing touchdowns this year. Thankfully nose tackle Nikita Whitlock
, who Army couldn't block last year, graduated. Mike linebacker Marquel Lee has sideline-to-sideline range and can drop into coverage. Lee has made 29 tackles, leads the team with 5 1/2 tackles for a loss, made a sack and broke up a pass this year. Big linebacker Brandon Chubb
(87 tackles in 2013) leads the Deacons with 34 tackles, a sack, two quarterback hurries and a pass defensed. He had a career-high 18 tackles in the opener. Junior nose tackle Tylor Harris
(6 tackles in 2014) struggled against the Army triple option as a freshman when he made a start due to injuries. The Black Knights rushed for 429 yards, averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns during that game in 2012. This Wake defense does force turnovers and is athletic enough to make big plays.
WAKE FOREST PASSING OFFENSE
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
is the first true freshman quarterback in Wake Forest history to start a season-opener. Wolford has completed 62-of-110 passes (56.4%) for 645 passing yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. He has been turnover prone, which isn't surprising for a true freshman quarterback on a struggling offense. Wolford does have ability as he demonstrated in the win over FCS Gardner-Webb on Sept. 6. He was 30-of-38 passing for 291 passing yards with two touchdowns. Virginia
transfer E.J. Scott
, has emerge as Wolford's favorite target with 12 receptions for 156 yards, 13.0 average and three touchdowns. Tight end Cam Serigne
leads all Wake Forest receivers with 15 catches for 171 yards. He caught a career-high seven passes for a career-high 91 yards in the game last week against Utah State. The Wake Forest offensive line was one of the worse in the ACC last year and has continued to struggle mightily. Through three games the offensive line has allowed 14 sacks which is the second most in the nation this season. Dave Clawson is a very good offensive coach but he has one of the youngest teams in the country that can't execute his offense. Clawson started to have the running backs stay in to block and receivers run quick timing patterns against Utah State to offset the pass rush pressure.
The Black Knights pass defense has picked off three passes and has defensed another eleven this year. Still the defense has been lit up for 37 points per game,
over 308 passing yards per game, a 69.6 percent completion percentage and nine touchdown passes despite the secondary making some plays. Sophomore cornerback Josh Jenkins
isn't the problem. He has 12 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed in two games. Josh was impressive in matching up well against Stanford's talented receiving corps. He nearly picked off a pass attempted for Michael Rector
and forced a punt. He later broke up a fade pattern in the end zone to prevent a score. Junior cornerback Chris Carnegie
(12 tackles, INT) played well against Stanford but was beat in the end zone on the final touchdown pass to Montgomery. Free safety Geoff Bacon (10 tackles) has struggled in pass coverage and has been late providing help over the top. Army's defensive backs are probably glad to see Wake Forest's Michael Campanaro
has graduated. In the last two games against the Black Knights he made 16 receptions and scored four touchdowns. Army should be better able to match up fairly well against this quarterback and group of receivers.
WAKE FOREST RUSHING OFFENSE
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Wake Forest's offensive line issues are seen in their abysmal rushing numbers. Since they've allowed so many sacks the Demon Deacons have rushed 87 times for a paltry 68 yards, an amazingly poor 0.8 average and no touchdowns. The Deacons are averaging only 22.67 rushing yards per game. They are the second worst rushing team in the nation. Wake has "gained" a negative total of minus 28 yards against the two FBS opponents. Wake’s starting running back is senior Orville Reynolds
, who was used primarily at receiver a season ago, and has run for 85 yards, a 2.2 average , and no scores. Reynolds longest run this year is just 17 yards. This is the weakest backfield in the ACC. Last Saturday the Deacons almost completely abandoned the run in the second half and spread out Utah State with multiple receivers and used short passes.
Army was only 103rd in the country against the run last year. The Black Knights have improved a bit in this area allowing 176 rushing yards per game and only one touchdown despite giving up a 5.8 yards per carry. Sophomore inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf
(21 tackles, 3 TFL FF, PD in 2014) had a huge game and played very well against Stanford. Timpf made a nice tackle shooting gap to tackle Stanford's Kelsey Young
for a loss on third-and-1 during the second series. It forced just Stanford's second three and out of the season. Jeremy also forced a fumble on special teams and nearly intercepted a pass. Timpf helped keep Army in the Stanford game during the first half. Senior Joe Drummond
has made five tackles, two for losses and has a sack. he's done a much better job of playing with leverage and getting off blocks.
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Wake Forest's new place kicker is junior kicker Mike Weaver
who is a perfect 5-for-5 in field goal attempts this season and has hit all his extra points. The Deacons have a very good punter in Alex Kinal who is averaging 43.7 per punt with five placed inside the twenty yard line and five boomed over fifty yards.
Tyler Henderson is averaging 18.0 on kickoffs and Jared Crump
is averaging 12-yards per punt return. The Demon Deacons blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the opener.
Junior Daniel Grochowski missed his last two extra point attempts in the opener. In 2013 he made eight of eleven field goal attempts and all his extra points. He had a touchback on his only kickoff at Stanford. Junior Punter Alex Tardieu
is averaging 39.3 per punt. He placed three punts inside the twenty yard line. Josh Jenkins and Chris Carnegie provide better speed and quickness on returns than last year but the blocking hasn't given the much running room except in the opener when Carnegie returned a kickoff 33 yards. The Army kick and punt coverage team have been excellent.
Dave Clawson has made his reputation as a coach capable of rebuilding a football program. He has turned around Fordham
and Bowling Green
. Bowling Green went 10-3 last year and won the MAC East title with a 7-1 record. In his 14 years as a head coach, Clawson has won conference championships at every coaching stop. He put together a good staff but will need time to rebuild the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is one of the youngest teams in the country with 28 freshmen or sophomores in their two-deep. That is tied for the fourth-most in the country this season.
Jeff Monken was named the 37th head coach in Army football history this off season. Monken was able to have the team avoid the large number penalties they had in the opener against Stanford. They were totally outclassed against No. 15 ranked Stanford despite hanging around for a half. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis
needs to get his offensive line and running game back in gear. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman needs a full game from his unit. The Black Knights defense has allowed only 17 points in the first half this year but a whopping 57 points after halftime.
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: The Deacons lead the series 9-4 and have won the last seven meetings, including each of the last two seasons. Army has served as Wake Forest’s homecoming opponent five previous occasions and the Demon Deacons have won all five games. Army has never beaten Wake Forest in five road trips to North Carolina. Wake Forest will have a big crowd for Homecoming and will need this game with ACC play starting next week. This may be their last chance to win a game this season. The Demon Deacons aren’t very good right now but they have some legitimate ACC talent.
Army has won only one road game since the 2010 victory over SMU
in the Armed Forces Bowl. This is a statement game on the road for the Black Knights in a potentially winnable game.
Army 24, Wake Forest 20. This may be the most important game the Black Knights play this year. While I'm not a believer in do or die games in week three this game can give us a fair evaluation of both sides of the ball. The offense plays against a tough capable defense. Stanford's defense can shutdown a lot of teams. Buffalo
can't stop anyone.
This week will probably give us a good read on how good is the offensive line which played well against Buffalo and was stymied by the Cardinal. On defense this is a very mediocre, offensively challenged Wake Forest team with a freshman quarterback, no running game who can't protect their quarterback. Army's defense needs to play a full four quarters and limit the opposition. They can't win if they keep on giving up 37 points per game and collapsing in the second half. It should be close but I see Army bucking the trends.