Ball State: Army Gets A Third Chance

Sometimes, teams and athletes get second chances. Well, this Saturday in West Point, Army’s football team gets a “third” chance on multiple levels. What’s meant by this reference? Read more to find out.


THIRD DEGREES, THIRD MEASURES: ARMY’S OPPONENT OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY AND A CHALLENGE

The number three simply works its way into this weekend’s Ball State-Army game in numerous ways, but the notion of a “third chance” for Army is found in the flow of the schedule. Stanford was and is a tough team, but after the Cardinal disposed of the Black Knights, Army found what was supposed to be the softer part of its schedule: Wake Forest, Yale, and now Ball State. Wake and Yale were both extremely vulnerable teams, but Army couldn’t beat either one of them. The Brave Old Army Team now gets a crack at a third frail football fraternity, the band of brothers from Ball State. This was a successful program the past few years under head coach Pete Lembo, but the departure of quarterback Keith Wenning has forced the Cardinals’ offense to start from square one. Ball State has a losing record, the product of a surprising setback against FCS member Indiana State. Army hosts a team that’s doubting itself. It’s a third chance for the Black Knights to get a second win this season.

Beyond that central notion of a “third chance,” this game gives Jeff Monken’s team other iterations of a third chance as well. Army can win this game by mastering third downs, especially on defense. The Black Knights will realize that Ball State’s offense converted only 4 of 16 third downs in a loss to Iowa. Army’s coaching staff can also benefit from learning that in BSU’s most recent game, against Toledo on Sept. 20, the Cardinals – though 8 of 16 on all third downs – were 6 of 7 on third and three yards or fewer. Ball State was only 2 of 9 on third downs of four yards or more. If Army can force Ball State into third downs of more than three yards, it can do better than it’s done the past two weeks against Wake and Yale. Army’s defense has stopped offenses on third downs only half the time – 14 of 28 – in the past two games. That has to improve by a considerable measure if the Black Knights are going to tuck away a win.

Third downs, more than three yards to go, a third week with a flaw-filled foe. Army has all sorts of third chances and third challenges waiting on the Michie Stadium gridiron this Saturday. Can this team become more resilient in proving-ground moments?

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