Three Keys – Army at UConn

Army head coach Jeff Monken was not happy with how Army performed in the opening day defeat by Fordham. "I am embarrassed by our performance tonight," Monken said after the game. "We were poorly coached. We didn't block, tackle or take care of the ball, which is certainly not representative of what our team will be, and I am certainly disappointed in how we played."

To get on the path to become what Monken envisions Army football looking like in two or three years’ time the Black Knights have to learn how to bounce back from exactly this type of disappointment. Army has an immediate shot at redemption against a UConn team that the Black Knights beat at Yankee Stadium last fall. Here are the three keys:

1) Win the battle offensively on third down

In his weekly press conference UConn head coach Bob Diaco suggested that one of the areas of improvement he wants to see from his team on Saturday is their ability to get off the field defensively on third down. The Huskies allowed Villanova to be better than 50 percent on third down for the game (9-17) and this gave the Wildcats plenty of opportunities to keep long drives going and get into scoring range. When the option is humming it is a very efficient third down offense as Army has a ton of third and short situations. The Black Knights were 6-11 on first down against Fordham and a similar number of converted first downs this weekend will give Army a chance at victory.

2) Work the fullbacks more

The bread and butter of the triple option offense is the fullback dive. If the fullbacks are able to plow forward for decent yardage on first and second down, then the whole playbook opens up as the linebackers have to respect the men crashing up field inside. If the fullbacks are not gaining their yards, then the defense can be more flexible and work on tracking down the quarterback and slot back runs. Against Fordham the Army fullbacks rushed a combined nine times for 46 yards. This isn’t nearly enough work for the triple option to be a success. This number of carries needs to be at least 15 and the yardage must double for Army to win.

3) Win the turnover battle

Ahmad Bradshaw was surprisingly safe with the football in his debut last week. He threw a bad interception at an inopportune time, but his reads and decisions in the option game were perhaps better than expected. Army, though, needs more from the defense in terms of explosive, big plays. This offense is young, so any time when the field position battle is turned in the Black Knights favor is going to be a big deal. With that in mind Army must win the turnover battle in order to beat the Huskies.

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