Three Keys: Kent State

The Army football team, it should be said, receives good coaching and a clear plan at the starts of halves. Army has started first and third quarters fairly well this year. It’s the on-the-fly adjustment and the fourth quarter that have hurt the Black Knights. Guess what’s a game key for Kent State?


THREE KEYS TO BEATING KENT STATE

1 – Stick a fork in the fourth quarter.
We’re now in the second half of the season in terms of games played, also the second half of October. Toss aside the Xs and Os in this particular game key. It’s time for leaders to emerge on the field in the final 20 minutes of a game. Army had figured out the fourth quarter enough to get by against Ball State, but it bears mentioning that that was a game in which a 27-10 Army lead turned into a nervous 27-24 situation before the Black Knights were finally able to register an important late-game tally and dig out a 33-24 win. Army regressed and fell back into its familiar fourth-quarter rut against Rice. This is a day to take back the fourth quarter, and not just by making it tolerable (being outscored 14-6 by Ball State), but by winning the quarter outright.

Maybe Army will blow Kent State out of the water before the fourth quarter even arrives, but this is definitely a Marty Schottenheimer special for the Black Knights, anyway: “Focus and finish.”

2 – Situational solidity. What strikes an observer about Kent State is that the Golden Flashes don’t do many things particularly well. KSU, which – just a few short years ago – played Northern Illinois for a spot in the Orange Bowl, has fallen on very hard times under coach Paul Haynes, who succeeded Darrell Hazell… and has not done any more succeeding, shall we say. Kent State is a hollowed-out team with hardly any leg to stand on, any kind of strength it can bring to bear against an opponent. If there’s one area in which this team doesn’t look all that bad, it’s fumble luck, which is partly a product of effort but partly a product of being in the right place at the right time. Kent State’s opponents have lost seven of 11 fumbles this season. Army can probably survive a turnover in this game, but only if that turnover comes in a not-too-urgent situation. Army has to be sound when in the red zone or inside its own 20. Giving away seven points at either end of the field could be just the thing to offer Kent State some leverage. KSU is 93rd or worse in the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing yards per game, rushing yards per game, scoring average per game, and points allowed per game. As long as Army makes things count when placed in an urgent situation or spot on the field, the Black Knights should be fine.

3 – Flex some muscle on defense. Army’s defense has endured a very rough season to this point. Kent State, however, averages only 11.8 points per game. Can Army take advantage of the best opportunity it will ever face in the FBS this season? Saturday is a day when this defense needs to experience the sweet taste of achievement. If Army’s defense can enjoy a highly successful afternoon, the ability to actually see everything coming together on the field can enable the Black Knights to round into form in November and beyond.

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