Army meets Western Kentucky on Saturday in Bowling Green. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.
Black Knights travel to face the Western Kentucky
Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Last week the Black Knights beat Connecticut
35-21 at Yankee Stadium in dramatic fashion. Army took a 28-14 after Angel Santiago
scored with 4:22 left in the game. UCONN mounted a furious comeback as they scored, recovered the ensuing on-sides kick and drove to the Black Knights six yard line. Chris Carnegie
saved the day when he returned his second interception 99- yards for a touchdown. Western Kentucky’s' No. 2 ranked passing attack beat UTEP
35-27 last week. Army lost to Western Kentucky 21-17 at Michie Stadium last year on Senior Day. The Hilltoppers scored two fourth quarter touchdowns in the comeback win.
ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
WESTERN KENTUCKY PASSING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Angel Santiago completed 2-of-3 passes for 38 passing yards last week against UCONN. Santiago targeted Joe Walker
with all his passes. He completed his first throw to Walker for 16-yards. Walker dropped his second throw on a third down seam route that forced Army to punt. Walker caught a 22-yard pass to set up the Black Knights final offensive touchdown. On the season Santiago has completed 30-of-58 (51.7%) passes for 400 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He looked a lot more comfortable throwing the medium range passes last week after struggling after being forced to throw more when Army's ground game was struggling. Wide receiver Edgar Poe
leads the team in receiving yards with 168 yards on seven receptions for a 24 yard average with a touchdown. The pass protection was much better this week with Santiago having time to throw against UCONN.
The rebuilt WKU secondary has struggled this season. It is ranked 119th against the pass and is allowing 298 passing yards a game and 18 passing touchdowns this season. The Hilltoppers did return senior Cam Thomas
(30 tackles, interception) who was named to the 2014 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list but has missed two games with injuries this year. Thomas was a first-team all-league pick when he picked off five passes in the Sun Belt conference last season. Safety Ricardo Singh
struggles at times in pass coverage but is active with 48 tackles and an interception. He returned his pick 85-yards for a touchdown against UAB
. Defensive tackle Bryan Shorter
leads the Hilltoppers with 4 1/2 sacks. Western Kentucky has registered 15 quarterback sacks and intercepted seven passes. The Hilltoppers have returned four interceptions for touchdowns. Three of the picks were returned for over 85-yards touchdowns.
ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
WESTERN KENTUCKY RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: The Black Knights is ranked 5th in the nation in rushing. They are averaging over 299 rushing yards per game. Army's offense was able to get back on track last week against UCONN. Black Knights offense ran for 325 yards, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored four times. The offensive line played well and did a much better job of sealing the edge and getting to the second level. Angel Santiago led the team with 97 rushing yards and two scores while going an excellent job reading the option and distributing the ball last week. Terry Baggett
(325 yards, 7.9 avg., TD) ran for 102 yards and a touchdown against Western Kentucky last season. The Black Knights had trouble establishing the fullback dive last season against WKU.
The Hilltoppers 4-3 defense enters the game ranked 113th in the nation against the run this year. They are allowing over 228 rushing yards per game. The Hilltopper defense rotates a five man front when facing the option .They played one lineman over the center in an “O” technique and in the other would drop back from the line in a two-point stance next to the Mike linebacker. WKU's defensive coordinator Nick Holt
has beat the last four triple-option teams he's faced. His son Nick Holt plays middle linebacker and leads the team with 81 tackles and 7.0 tackles for losses. Junior linebacker Dejohn Brown (51 tackles, 3 for losses) was in on 10 tackles against Navy
's spread option.
WESTERN KENTUCKY PASSING OFFENSE
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: WESTERN KENTUCKY
Western Kentucky's senior quarterback Brandon Doughty
is having a breakout season. He has completed 268 of his 400 pass attempts (67.2%) for 3,329 yards with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Last week Doughty completed 23-of-34 for 324 passing yards with three touchdowns in the win over UTEP. Doughty’s favorite target is Jared Dangerfield
who has 45 catches for 512 yards, a 11.4 average and five touchdowns. Taywan Taylor
has 37 catches for 544 yards and five touchdown Willie Mcneal
is a good possession receiver with 37 receptions for 325 yards and five scores. Antwane Grant
has posted 39 catches for 479 yards, a 12.3 average and five touchdowns. Nine different WKU receivers have touchdown receptions this year. WKU high powered passing game ranks second in the nation. It has produced 364 points over nine games which is a school record to this point in the season.
The Black Knights pass defense is ranked 90th in the nation. Cornerback Chris Carnegie (40 tackles, 3 INTs, 8 PD) saved the day last week as he played the best game of his career with two interceptions, returned the game saving pick for a 99-yard touchdown, knocked down a pass and forced Dhamree Bradley into the boundary for an incompletion to end UCONN's opening drive. Josh Jenkins
(54 tackles, 4 TFL, 4 INTs, 10 PD) has played well all season. Freshman safety Rhyan England
(18 tackles, TFL, PD) has struggled in coverage. This is a touch matchup for the Black Knights because they struggle to defend underneath and in the middle of the field with their inexperienced safeties.
WESTERN KENTUCKY RUSHING OFFENSE
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: WESTERN KENTUCKY
REMARKS: Running back Leon Allen
leads the Western Kentucky rushing attack with 840 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 179 carries. Allen has set career highs
in rush yards (182 vs. ODU) and receiving yards (88 vs. UTEP) in last two home games. He has run for over one hundred yards in four games this year. The Hilltoppers use Anthony Wales
to spell Allen. Wales has carried the ball 58 times for 362 yards, a 6.2 average and four scores. The speedy Wales has two of WKU’s longest runs of the season. He had a 75-yarder vs. UAB and a 46-yarder at LA Tech. Quarterback Brandon Doughty is a pocket passer and doesn't pose much of a running threat.
Army is ranked 86th in the country versus the run. The Black Knights are allowing over 186 rushing yards per game. Sophomore inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf
has named FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week three times his season. Timpf leads the Black Knights with 83 tackles, 12 TFL, a sack, three interceptions and six passes defensed. Freshman Scott Washle
(17 tackles) has played well in place of the injured inside linebacker Andrew King
(44 tackles, 4 TFL) Defensive end Mike Ugenyi had a nice game with four tackles and a tackle for a loss last year against the Hilltoppers. Last year the Black Knights rush defense had a terrific game against Antonio Andrews
who was the leading rusher in the nation. They were the first team all year to hold Andrews under five yards a carry and allowed his third lowest (117 yards) rushing yardage total. Overall the Army defense allowed 135 rushing yards, 3.4 yards per carry and a touchdown against Western Kentucky in 2013.
EDGE: WESTERN KENTUCKY
REMARKS: WKU's junior kicker Garrett Schwettman has hit 13-of-16 field goal attempts this year. He is almost automatic inside the forty yard line but doesn't have a very strong leg. Joseph Occhipinti is averaging 37.5 on 35 punts and placed eight inside the twenty yard line. Mike Mugler
has only five touchbacks on 61 kickoffs.
Kylen Towner is averaging 24.5 yards on 18 kickoff returns with a kickoff touchdown return against ODU. Willie Mcneal
is averaging 22.3 and has returned one of his kickoffs for a touchdown during his career. Kylen Towner is averaging 11.5 on punt returns. WKU's coverage teams have struggled covering kicks this year. They have allowed 21.6 on kickoff returns with three returned for touchdowns. WKU is also allowing 7.3 on punt returns.
Army's Daniel Grochowski has made 5-of-9 field goal attempts. He has made five of his last six.. He hit 25-of-27 extra point attempts. Cale Brewer
replaced Grochowski on kickoffs against the Huskies and had no touchbacks in six attempts. Punter Alex Tardieu
is averaging 39.7 yards on 35 punts with 16 of his punts being fair caught, 14 being placed inside the twenty yard line and five traveling over fifty yards. Tardieu has seen only five of his punts returned all season. New punt returner Xavier Moss
discovered what Josh Jenkins dealt with all year. The Black Knights do not block anyone on punt returns. Moss fielded two punts and was dropped immediately. He fair caught the last one. The Black Knights are averaging just 16.5 yards on kickoff returns. The blocking of the return teams is terrible. The coverage teams have done a nice job holding opponents to just a 3.0 punt return average and a 19.2 kickoff return average.
Jeff Brohm is in his first season as the head football coach at Western Kentucky University after spending one season as the Hilltoppers’ assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He is an 11-year collegiate coaching veteran with experience in the Big 10, Big East, Conference USA and Sun Belt conferences, Brohm's high-scoring offense broke 18 single-season school records including total offense, individual passing yards and individual rushing yards in his first season as the Hilltoppers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at WKU in 2013. His passing game is ranked second in the nation. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt rotates a five man front when facing the option has been copied by a number of teams due to its success in limiting the option running game.
Jeff Monken did a great job getting the team ready to play last week against UCONN after being dominated by Air Force
. His fake field goal attempt on the opening drive showed Army was playing to win and going for it. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis
did an excellent job with the offensive line this week. I like the use of his heavy formation on Joe Walker's touchdown run near the goal line. Defensive coordinator Jay Bateman's unit played well for the second week in a row. His decision to bring pressure led to Carnegie's pick to seal the win.
EDGE: WESTERN KENTUCKY
REMARKS: Western Kentucky leads the series 1-0. Last year Army Black Knights lost to Western Kentucky 21-17 at Michie Stadium on Senior Day. The Hilltoppers scored two fourth quarter touchdowns in the comeback win. The Black Knights held Western Kentucky scoreless in the first half and took a 3-0 lead into half time. Terry Baggett's twenty-yard touchdown run gave Army a 17-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter. WKU responded with an 87-yard drive to score the game winning touchdown with just 32 seconds left in the game. The Black Knights are one of the worse road teams in college football. Army last road victory on an opponent’s home field was against Kent State
in 2010. The Black Knights are 0-4 on the road this season and have been outscored 147 to 81. Two of the losses were to Wake Forest
and Kent State who are a combined 3-16 this year and one of the others was to Yale from the Ivy league.
Western Kentucky 49, Army 24. The Hilltoppers are averaging 40.4 points a game on offense and do a great job in spreading out a defense. Doughty is a different quarterback in this system than the one Army saw last year. Army plays a similar 3-4 bend but don't break style as Navy. This year
WKU put up 551 yards of total offense with 387 passing yards in beating the Midshipmen in Annapolis. The Black Knights haven't won on an opponent’s home field in over four years. Army's running game should move the ball against Western Kentucky's young rebuilding defense but I don't see them slowing down the Hilltoppers offense which has too much team speed for Army's defense.