HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. KENT STATE

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

The Army Black Knights travel to Ohio to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes. Kent State enters the game looking for their first win this season. The Golden Flashes lost last week to another previously winless team, UMass, 40-17. This Kent State team is a far cry from the eleven win team that featured current Pittsburgh Steeler Dri Archer in a 31-17 Kent State victory at Michie Stadium in 2012. Army enters the game after being outclassed 41-21 by the Rice Owls at home.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
KENT STATE PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Army quarterback Angel Santiago has been accurate and on target with most of his passes this season. On the year he has completed 23-of-34 (67.6%) for 325 yards and a touchdown. He threw his first touchdown pass this year to Xavier Moss against Rice. It was a well-designed drag route, with a legal pick play, that on Moss's touchdown reception. Moss has only five receptions this year, after leading the Black Knights with 35 receptions last season, but two have been touchdown receptions. Edgar Poe (7 rec., 168 yards, 24.0 avg., TD) leads the Black Knights in receptions. Poe made a fine catch for the 54-yard gain on a pass thrown by A.J. Schurr during the last drive against Rice. Army's offensive line struggles in pass protection and is ranked 125th in sacks allowed percentage. It would actually be worse but Santiago and done a solid job scrambling to avoid pressure and checking down to receivers.

Kent State's plays a similar 4-2-5 multiple defense that the Black Knights saw from Rice. Thankfully they don't possess the same talent. Jordan Italiano (49 tackles, INT, 2 FF) has done a nice job replacing former star Luke Wollet at strong safety. Italiano doesn't have Wollet's range but he will hit anything that moves. The Golden Flashes have struggled in coverage and are allowing 34.7 points per game. They are ranked 104th in defense and are allowing over 252 passing yards per game. They gave up three touchdowns and 286 passing yards last week to UMass. Kent State fails to generate much pressure up front with only three sacks all season.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
KENT STATE RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: The Black Knights are ranked fourth in the nation as they average over 323 rushing yards per game. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis's spread option scheme has been, as expected, dominated by the fullback and quarterbacks running the ball approximately 75 percent of the time. Team captain Larry Dixon has been a workhorse at B-back rushing for a team leading 612 yards, a 5.9 average and five scores. Quarterback Angel Santiago leads the Black Knights with six rushing touchdowns while running for 466 yards. < br>
Slotback Raymond Maples, 2,734 career rushing yards, missed last week's game with an injury and has struggled to stay healthy the last two years. Maple is questionable to play Saturday. < br>
Kent State is ranked 107th in the nation against the run. They are allowing 212 rushing yards per game. Nate Holley plays a hybrid linebacker and safety role. Holley has a team leading 80 tackles and three tackles for loss. His twin brother Nick is a running back for the Golden Flashes. He's led Kent State in tackles for five straight games. Linebacker Matt Dellinger (46 tackles) was second on the team last year with 77 tackles. Defensive tackle Nate Terhune (6-4, 270) was named to the preseason All-MAC team and has posted 19 tackles.

KENT STATE PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: KENT STATE
REMARKS: The Kent State passing game ranks 91st in the nation behind sophomore quarterback Colin Reardon. Reardon is a two year starter who has completed 118-of-216 passes (54.6%) for 1,227 yards with 6 touchdowns against 8 interceptions this fall. As a freshman he was 186 for 316 for 1957 yards (58.9%) with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Reardon has struggled this season with Kent State's offensive line struggling to create holes for the running backs on in pass protection allowing 14 sacks. Senior wide receiver Chris Humphrey is Reardon's favorite target with 24 receptions for 270 yards, an 11.3 average and a touchdown. Last season he led the Golden Flashes with 51 receptions for 613 yards and three scores. He's a pure possession receiver and a good route runner. The other threat is preseason all MAC tight end Casey Pierce. Pierce (6-4, 242) is used as a tight end and H-back. He's made 23 receptions for 259 yards with a 44-yard touchdown reception. Last season he was the team's best weapon in the red zone with 33 catches for 364 yards and five touchdowns. Pierce was named to the preseason John Mackey Award tight end watch list. He can pose a big match-up problem for the Army safeties and linebackers. < br>
The Black Knights pass defense is ranked 90th in the nation this year. Army is allowing over 254 passing yard a game. The opposing passers are completing 67.5% of their attempts and have thrown 16 touchdowns against Army this year. Steven Johnson (30 TT, 2 PD) was benched for Luke Prouix during the game last week against Rice for missing too many tackles. Johnson replaced captain Geoff Bacon (20 TT) at free safety after he was injured against Yale. Cornerback Chris Carnegie (25 TT, INT, 4 PD) had his worst game of the season last week against Rice. Carnegie sat on a stop- and-go route by Mario Hall and was burned for a 32- yard gain on the double move. Carnegie later never looked back for football on a five yard touchdown pass to Hall. If Chris turned looked for the ball he could have made a play to either knock down or intercept the pass. Opposing offensive coordinators are respecting sophomore cornerback Josh Jenkins's (30 TT, 2 INT, 6PD) coverage skills and aren't challenging him too often. The Black Knights have just six sacks this season.

KENT STATE RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: Kent State is ranked 122nd in the country in rushing. They are averaging just 68.2 rushing yards per game. The Golden Flashes really miss senior Trayion Durham (2,712 career rushing yards, 24 TDs) who is out the entire season with a broken foot. Kent State leading runner is Nick Holley who has run for 220 yards and a 3.2 average. Senior Anthony Meray (107 yards, 3.1, TD) showed some quickness on a season high 43-yard touchdown run against UMass. Reardon is a pocket passer with limited run skills. < br>
Army's defense is ranked 92nd against the run and allowing over 187 rushing yards per game. The Black Knights struggled last week as they missed far too many tackles and were getting beat at the point of attack. Inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf has excellent instincts and range. Timpf has posted 52 tackles, 7 1/2 tackles for a loss, three interceptions and six passes defensed. Outside linebacker Stephen Ricciardi (27TT, 7 TFL, Sack, PD) missed a few tackles but had his best game against Rice with ten tackles, three tackles for a loss and a pass batted down.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: KENT STATE
REMARKS: Kent State's Anthony Melchiori handles both the placekicking and punting for the Golden Flashes the last two seasons. He earned all-MAC honors as a punter last fall. Melchiori is averaging 44.6 yards per punt on 44 punts with 14 placed inside the twenty yard line. He has nailed 11 punts over fifty yards. Melchiori is brilliant as a punter but he has struggled on field goals. Melchiori has hit 5-of-10 field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards this year. Punt returner James Brooks is averaging 7.3 per punt return. Earnest Calhoun is solid on kickoff returns but doesn't remind anyone of Dri Archer. Kent State has struggled on its coverage units allowing 27 yards per kickoff return and over 13 yards per punt return. < br>
Dan Grochowski has hit 2-of-5 field goal attempts. He has made 18-of-20 extra point attempts. Punter Alex Tardieu is averaging 40.3 yards on 24 punts with half his punts being fair caught. Returner Josh Jenkins has good speed but Army is ranked 122nd in kickoff returns and only 121st punt returns in the nation respectively. Jenkins forced a holding penalty coming off the edge on a field goal attempt last week to deny Rice a made 46-yard field goal and force a punt.

COACHING
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: Paul Haynes enters his second season as head coach at Kent State and his ninth season affiliated with the program. Haynes spent the 2012 season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas. Prior to Arkansas he served seven seasons at Ohio State as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach on Jim Tressel's Ohio State staff. The Kent State program has struggled since Haynes took over following its dream 2012 season that produced an 11-3 record. Kent State under Haynes has gone 4-14 the last two years. He might be one of those coaches who is a fine assistant but not a quality head coach.

Army head coach Jeff Monken said it best in an article written by Sal Interdonato of the Times Herald-Record: "We are who we are. We are working to get better and our kids are trying and our coaches are working hard. I don’t have any lack of confidence that it (winning) is going to happen. I’d like for it to happen a lot sooner. There’s nobody less patient than I am.” Monken is simply limited by the lack of talent he inherited on defense and the players still make the same mistakes they did under the previous regime. That will only be solved by recruiting. Monken will get it done but it will take time. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis looks like he's trying to use the inside counters that worked so well the past few years to get Baggett and hopefully, once healthy, Maples more involved.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Kent State is desperate for a victory. Army is 2-1 lifetime over the Golden Flashes in the series but dropped a 31-17 decision at West Point when electric Dri Archer put on a show. Army's all time record against the MAC is 20-17 but the Black Knights are only 8-16 since 2007. Monken beat the two MAC teams he faced this year. Army last road victory on an opponent’s home field was against Kent State in 2010.

PREDICTION: Army 35, Kent State 24. Army is one of the worst road teams in football but Kent State is really struggling and a bad team. Army's running game should move the ball against a porous Kent State defense. The Golden Flashes will probably have more success passing against the Black Knights than in other games but their run game is nonexistent. Army is actually the better team and the much better coached one in this game. There is no excuse for Army not to earn a road win here.

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