Three Keys: Air Force

The Army football team has to deal with the challenges that are particular to the Air Force Falcons on Saturday in West Point. However, the Black Knights also need to account for the circumstances surrounding Air Force as it comes to Michie Stadium. Third, the Black Knights have to be able to solve their own internal problems, using a bye week as well as humanly possible.


THREE KEYS TO BEATING AIR FORCE

1 – Account for what Air Force did in its most recent game.
This might seem unimportant to some, but Air Force played New Mexico in its most recent game. Such a fact means something because New Mexico is also a triple-option team. Air Force’s offense always executes the triple option, but the Falcons’ defense has been able to practice against the triple option for multiple weeks now… and not just because the team’s offense runs that system. Air Force’s defense has been practicing against the triple option within the context of game preparation and overall planning for an opponent. It is reasonable to expect Air Force’s defense to be fairly responsive to many of Army’s most common offensive maneuvers and actions. Therefore, Jeff Monken and his offensive staff need to constantly tweak what they do, putting in all sorts of wrinkles and variations, especially in the first quarter. Army’s offense has to get Air Force’s defense off the scent in the first 15-20 minutes of this game, setting the table for what could happen in the final 40-45 minutes of Saturday’s clash.

2 – Prevent the big run with safety play. Air Force has scored at least 28 points in each of its five wins. The Falcons have scored no more than 16 points in their two losses. In those two losses, Air Force was held under 156 rushing yards and wound up passing for more than 200, taking the Falcons out of their comfort zone and their preferred mode of play. Air Force averaged three turnovers in those losses as well. Army’s main task on defense is therefore clear: Deny the Falcons the big run. When safeties come up to provide run support, they have to be at their very best all day long. Preventing the big play and eventually steering Air Force into third-and-medium situations will give Army a chance to keep the Falcons under control.

3 – Find huge offensive plays in the fourth quarter. Army’s feeble performance on offense in the second half against Kent State reinforced the idea that the Black Knights are not long-distance runners. This team will naturally have to find a way to thrive for 60 minutes against Air Force, but the more specific point of emphasis for the Black Knights’ offense in the second half is that it will probably have to score by means of the huge play instead of the 14-play, 80-yard drive. The long scoring drive (if the game is close) would offer a perfect scenario for the Black Knights, but a more realistic view is to try to fool Air Force’s defense to the point that a 70-yard lightning bolt is possible. That might provide the difference between winning and losing on a day when Air Force deserves to be favored.

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