HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. CONNECTICUT

Army meets Connecticut on Saturday in East Hartford, Conn. 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 meet the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field on Saturday. Last year the Army Black Knights beat Connecticut 35-21 at Yankee Stadium in dramatic fashion. Army led the entire way and held a two touchdown lead most of the game. 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 6-yard line. Chris Carnegie saved the day when he returned his second interception of the game 99-yards for a touchdown. Both teams played FCS teams in their openers last week. Army lost 37-35 to the FCS No. 21 ranked Fordham Rams. UConn beat FCS No. 3 ranked Villanova 20-15. UConn leads the series 4-2 over Army.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
CONNECTICUT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: CONNECTICUT
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw completed 6-of-14 passes for 107 passing yards with two touchdowns against an interception in his first career start. Bradshaw has a good arm for an option quarterback. He has some targets with ability to catch the ball which makes the Army passing game more dangerous. Both starting slotbacks are converted wide receivers. Slotback Joe Walker caught two passes for 14 yards last week and had a touchdown reception. Fellow slotback John Trainor made a nice catch for 28-yards in traffic as Ahmad pass led him into the Ram safety but he held on to the ball. Plebe slotbacks Jordan Ashberry had a 33-yard reception and Tyler Campbell had a five yard reception. At wide receiver Edgar Poe offers a nice tall target. Poe made a 27-yard touchdown catch where he outfought the Rams cornerback for the ball.

The UConn secondary did a pretty good job containing Villanova's quarterback John Robertson, FCS's reigning offensive player of the year, allowing 17-of- 32 passes for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the openers. Senior safety Andrew Adams (5 tackles) made one the biggest plays of the game with a third quarter interception to allow UConn to come back and win. Defensive back Obi Melifonwu must not have liked losing his starting job. He made three tackles against Villanova and broke up two passes while nearly intercepting one. The Huskies showed a much improved pass rush over last year in the opener. They sacked the mobile Robertson four times. Defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi was impressive with two sacks but was thrown out of the game for fighting. Army will probably catch a break as Fatukasi will likely be suspended for the game. Sophomore defensive end Luke Carrezola had a huge game last week in his first start. He was second on the team in tackles with six, had a sack, two quarterback pressures and recovered a fumble. He can really come off the edge.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
CONNECTICUT RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: The Black Knights had a disappointing showing running the ball in the opener. Army ran for 256 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns against an GCS team. Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw led the Black Knights with 143 rushing yards on twenty carries and scored two touchdowns. Bradshaw missed some of his reads and pitch keys but he ran hard, broke arm tackles and showed good speed. Army needs to do a better job of establishing the fullback to win. Matt Giachinta (3 att., 10 yards) scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Aaron Kemper (6 att., 36 yards) picked up 28- yards on 3rd-and-12 but did little else. In last year's game Army ran for 325 yards, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored four times against the Huskies. Direct plebe slotback Jordan Ashbery (5 att., 56 yrds) showed good speed off the edge. Slotback Joe Walker ran four times for 27 yards. John Trainor made his first start (3 att., 19 yards) and had a nice run on a reverse The offensive line had a disappointing game and must improve their play this week.

The UConn 4-3 defense was solid against the run last year when they ranked 49th in total defense. The linebacker position is the strength of this defensive unit. Middle linebacker Junior Joseph led the Huskies with nine tackles last week. Returning senior starting linebackers Marquise Vann (105 tackles, 7 1/2 TFL, 1/2 sack in 2014) and Graham Stewart (94 tackles, 10 1/2 TFL, 2 sacks in 2014) have been productive players for the Huskies. Army center Matt Hugenberg outplayed UConn's active, short, quick defensive tackle Julian Campenni (35 tackles, 51/2 TFL, 2 Sacks) last year. Campenni's made a key fourth-and-1 tackle to stop a promising Villanova drive. If defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi is suspended for fighting then Army will catch a huge break. Fatukasi is a monster in the middle who dominated in the opener..

CONNECTICUT PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: CONNECTICUT
REMARKS: Bryant Shirreffs, a transfer from NC State, is the new UConn quarterback. He completed 12-of-20 passes for 202 yards and two scores while throwing Shirreffs played well. He started out the first drive going 4-for-4 including a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tommy Myers (2 rec for 83 yards). Myers had had a 69-yard catch and run in the third quarter to set up a touchdown. Shirreffs other touchdown pass was a 22-yard screen to Arkeel Newsome. His lone interception came off a deflection. Noel Thomas (26 rec., 305 yards, 4 TDs in 2014) made three receptions for 39 yards. The Huskies offensive line struggled in pass protection last year. They gave up just one sack in the opener but their right tackle Andreas Knappe was penalized with a hold in the end zone that caused a safety.

In the opener the Black Knights secondary had a terrible game. Against a FCS quarterback making his first start they allowed Kevin Anderson to complete 15-of-23 attempts for 322 passing yards. Anderson had two sure touchdown passes dropped by Phazahn Odom. Senior Chris Carnegie (6 tackles, sack, PD) was the only member of the secondary to play well in the opener. He made a nice play just before the end of the first half breaking up what would have been a touchdown pass in the end zone. Carnegie was the hero in last year's game when he returned his second interception 99- yards for a touchdown to beat UConn. The play of the safeties was terrible last Friday. Xavier Moss (4 tackles) really struggled in the first start at strong safety. Rhyan England (6 tackles, PD) was literally run over a few times and caught out of position failing to cover the deep middle. Rhyan allowed completions to Chase Edmonds underneath turn into some big plays. England should have picked off the pass he broke up. They entire unit has to play better to beat UConn. The Black Knights did post three sacks in the opener which is a big improvement over last year .

CONNECTICUT RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Connecticut Huskies struggled running the ball last year. Ron Johnson had 69 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown against Villanova. Johnson led UConn with 429 yards with just a 3.8 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns in 2014. Johnson is a physical runner who lacks speed and run skills but could give the Black Knights undersized front trouble. Sophomore Arkeel Newsome (5-7", 182) showed off his speed when he scored on a 22-yard screen pass against the Wildcats. His longest run from scrimmage was just four yards in the opener but they speedy scat back looks like a big play threat. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs showed good mobility in running for 33 yards in his first start. Senior running back Max DeLorenzo posted ran for 343 yards in 2014 as he averaged 4.5 yards a carry and scored a touchdown. Delorenzo had an uncontested lane for 26-yards down to the six yard line to set up UConn first touchdown in last year's game against Army.

Army run defense allowed 123 net rushing yards and four touchdowns last week. Inside linebacker Jeremy Timpf (9 tackles) had probably the worst game of his career as he struggled to corral Edmonds. Andrew King (6 tackles, 1/2 TFL, FR) missed tackles and was burned in coverage. You could send out a missing persons bulletin on Alex Aukerman who started at Rush linebacker and he didn't appear on the stat sheet. On Chase Edmonds 14-yard TD run he ran himself into a block creating a clear path to the goal line. Both safeties Rhyan England and Xavier Moss took poor angles and missed assignments against the Rams. Moss took a terrible angle on Edmonds 46-yard run. In last year’s victory the Army defense allowed 169 rushing yards as they gave up 7.0 yards per carry and a rushing touchdown against UConn. It was a poor performance against one of the worst running teams in the nation. The Black Knights were hurt by former quarterback Whitmer's scrambles when they spread Army out and gave the QB running lanes. The Huskies new quarterback Shirreffs looks to be even a better athlete than Whitmer. Injured cornerback Josh Jenkins did a nice job defending the Huskies bubble screens last year. His replacement Steven Johnson needs to tackle better than he did in the opener or UConn will pick on him all day.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: CONNECTICUT
REMARKS: UConn's kicker Bobby Puyol had an extra point attempt blocked in the opener. Last year Puyol hit on 9-of-14 field goals and missed three of his 22 extra point attempts. He struggled late last year making only one of his last four attempts. Punter Justin Wain averaged 44.0 yards on his four punts in the opener as he placed one inside the 20. Freshman Michael Tarbutt has a big leg and averaged 62.5-yard average on four kickoffs including one for a touchback. Brian Lemelle handles both kickoff and punt returns. He returned one kickoff 12-yards in the opener. Speedy Arkeel Newsome averaged 20.3 per kickoff return in 2014. The Huskies allowed a 44-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter against Villanova.

Army special team play was miserable in the opener. Long snapper Connor Farley air mailed a snap way over the head of punter Alex Tardieu. Alex had to run it out of end zone and take a safety. The Rams holder Joe Pavik ran in a fumbled extra point snap for a two point conversion and no Black Knight was near him. Punter Alex Tardieu had three punts for a 42.7 yard average with one placed inside the 20-yard line. Punt returner Edgar Poe returned three punts for just two yards. Poe muffed punt recovered by the Rams didn't lead to points in the fourth quarter but did cost valuable time Army needed at the end of the game. Poe should have fair caught the punt. The coverage teams struggled as well. The punt coverage team gave up a huge punt return but were bailed out by a Rams penalty. The kick coverage unit allowed a 29-yard return that probably would have a been returned for a touchdown if kicker Dan Grochowski didn't make the tackle. Plebe kick returner Marcus Hyatt averaged just 16.8 on five kickoff returns. He didn't show good run vision but in fairness to him the blocking on returns was poor.

COACHING
EDGE: CONNECTICUT
REMARKS: UConn head coach Bob Diaco is in his second year as the Huskies head coach after a 2-10 initial campaign. Diaco served on the Notre Dame coaching staff as the defensive coordinator for the past four years. He was the 2012 winner of the Frank Broyles Award given to the top assistant college football coach in the country. Diaco served as an assistant at Virginia, Cincinnati, Western Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection at Iowa as a linebacker. Diaco had a few rough games at defensive coordinator against Navy's option attack. His defense allowed Army 325 rushing yards, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored four times last years.

Jeff Monken in the post-game said he was “embarrassed” about Army’s performance last week. He blamed the coaching and himself for the loss. The Black Knights poor play and mental errors went far beyond first game jitters. Offensive coordinator Brent Davis should have seen his unit do a lot more. Fordham's defense was in the old vanilla wishbone defensive set that an efficient spread option attack should take apart. He has done a nice job coaching Bradshaw who has improved his ball handling from when I last saw him at USMAPS. The blocking was mediocre. Jay Bateman's defense was slow, missed many tackles and blew far too many assignments in the first half. The defense did play a lot better in the second half allowing only one touchdown and forcing five punts. The special teams units had a miserable game. Monken's staff had one of its best games last year against UConn.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: CONNECTICUT
REMARKS: Connecticut leads the series 4-2. They will be looking for payback after Army's win last year. In the two games played in East Hartford UConn has outscored Army 61-10. Army should have some confidence after defeating UConn last year. Army will be looking to rebound from a tough loss at home but the Black Knights are one of the worst teams in the FBS playing away from home.

PREDICTION: CONNECTICUT 35, ARMY 24. This is a winnable game but I have no confidence in the Army away from home. There is no way I can pick Army on the road because they haven't won a road game on an opponent’s home field since 2010. UConn's defense is solid and their offense is suspect but they have better talent than Army. The Huskies should win at home.

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