HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. WAKE FOREST

Army meets Wake Forest on Saturday at Michie Stadium. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. He also makes a prediction on the game's final score.

Army returns home to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons after dropping a road game to UConn 22-17. Wake Forest (1-1) led Syracuse 17-13 at halftime before falling 30-17 in their previous game. Last year Army suffered a disappointing 24-21 loss to Wake Forest in North Carolina. Army took a 21-14 lead into halftime. The Black Knights should have won the game but two fumbles, penalties, mental mistakes and poor coaching decisions let a bad Wake Forest team beat them late in the fourth quarter. Army out gained Wake Forest but the turnovers and penalties cost the Black Knights a win. Wake Forest's defense was ranked 36th nationally in 2014 but they struggled on offense. The have added some talent at their skill positions. Army needs to get their triple option running game untracked this week.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
WAKE FOREST PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Ahmad Bradshaw has completed 7-of-17 passes (41.2%) for 112 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions this season. A.J. Schurr replaced him at quarterback in the two minute offense against UConn. The staff like Schurr experience in the no huddle offense. Schurr hit on 2-of-5 passes for 80 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Schurr made a very nice throw rolling out to Joe Walker. Joe eluded the defender and showed good speed on the 71-yard touchdown reception. The Army pass protection did a nice job all day. Army has already matched last season's team totals of three touchdown passes and two interceptions this season.

Wake is allowing less than 17 points per game. This was a very good unit last year as Wake Forest finished ranked 36th in the nation in defense. The Demon Deacons had to replace half the secondary and the best players on the back line. Safety Ryan Janvion (84 1/2 tackles, 6 PD in 2014) has kept the back end of the defense respectable as the team has two new starting corners. Junior Brad Watson (7 tackles, 3 PD) has moved up to become a starter and he is a solid starter. Junior defensive tackle Josh Banks had four sacks last year and is the best returning pass rusher up front.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
WAKE FOREST RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Black Knights have struggled running the ball this season and in establishing the fullback. Against UConn, Army ran for just 96 yards and averaged only 3.1 yards per carry after you take out Bradshaw's two long runs; his 56-yard touchdown and his 28-yard run. Only 180 rushing yards will not get it done for an option offense. The B-backs have been a nonfactor rushing for just 19 yards on nine carries last week. By contrast the Black Knights ran for 341 yards, averaged 5.8 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns last year against Wake Forest in 2014. The offensive line has struggled and is facing some injuries issues. They will likely be shuffled again this game which can't help. Starting slotback John Trainor (4 atts., 27 yards, 6.8 avg.) is questionable after being nicked up against the Huskies.

Wake Forest uses a 4-2-5 zone-based scheme that was stingy, giving up 5.22 yards per play and ranked 36th nationally last season. The Demon Deacons returned all three starting linebackers Brandon Chubb (81 tackles, 5 1/2 TFL, 3 sacks in 2014), Marquel Lee (70 tackles, 12 TFL, 4 sacks) and Hunter Williams (45 tackles, 7 TFL, sack). This is a talented front seven that returns all but one starter. Chubb led the Demon Deacons with nine tackles against Syracuse. They struggled slowing down the Black Knights last year.

WAKE FOREST PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford threw for a career high 373 passing yards on 30-of-44 passing with a touchdown but had three interceptions last week against Syracuse. Last year as a freshman Wolford was thrown into the deep end of the pool behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football. He did a solid job as he completed 214 of 367 passes for 2,037 yards (58.3%) with 12 TDs against 14 INTs. The Wake Forest quarterbacks were sacked 55 times last year! This season Wolford has completed 50-of-72 passes (69.4%) for 696 passing yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. He is mobile with ability to makes plays with his feet. He has a 70-yard touchdown run this year. Wolford is mistake prone but that is probably because he plays behind a very poor offensive line. He is asked to do so much but has a lot of ability and delivers the ball quickly. Tight end Cam Serigne led all Wake Forest receivers with 54 catches for 531 yards and five touchdowns last year. He had a six yard touchdown reception against Army last fall. Cam picked up where he left off last year with six receptions for 95 yards and a score. The Demon Deacons have really improved at wide receiver. K.J. Brent is a quality wide receiver transfer from South Carolina who has emerged as Wolford's favorite target. Brent is a tall, 6-4", receiver who has 11 receptions for 142 yards, a 12.9 average and a touchdown in the first two games. Freshman wide receivers Chuck Wade (9 rec., 152 yards, 16.9 avg., TD) and Tabari Hines (9 rec., 101 yards, 11.2 avg.) both are fast with good hands. Through two games the offensive line has allowed seven sacks. Dave Clawson is a very good offensive coach but he has one of the youngest teams in the country.

Army's passing defense is ranked 102nd in the country so far this season. The secondary really misses their best player cornerback Josh Jenkins. Last season Army allowed Wake Forest's quarterback John Wolford to complete 25-of-35 for 238 yards with and two touchdowns and an interception. The Black Knights played a lot of nickel defense and allowed Wolford to get in a rhythm early. Last year linebacker Jeremy Timpf had an interception before the half. Last week the Black Knights allowed UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs to complete 19-of-25 passes for 270 yards. The coverage wasn't always great but give Shirreffs credit for making some nice throws. The UConn receivers made a number of very athletic diving receptions. Chris Carnegie (9 tackles, 3 PD this year) was called for a questionable pass interference penalty on the second drive that set up a UConn field goal rather than forcing a punt. Carnegie later forced out the Huskies Tommy Meyers in the end zone to save a touchdown. Free safety Rhyan England (13 tackles, 2 TFL) was very active and had the best game of his career last week but still missed some tackles and was beat in coverage a few times. He was much better in run support but missed a sack on a safety blitz when he had a clean shot at quarterback. Plebe Brandon Jsckson replaced the struggling Steven Johnson last week against UConn and did a nice job with six tackles. As I discussed during our R-day preview, Jackson was probably the fastest of all the defensive backs at the prep school last year. He is quick, agile and has good speed and is a willing hitter. Jackson will start against Wake Forest. Army secondary will struggle to match up against Wake Forest without Jenkins unless they generate pass rush pressure.

WAKE FOREST RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: Wake Forest's offensive line issues are seen in their rushing numbers. The Demon Deacons have run 74 times for 249 yards, a 3.4 average and three touchdowns. The Deacons ran well against mediocre FCS Elon in the opener but posted just 36 rushing yards on 32 attempts with a touchdown against Syracuse. Running back Isaiah Robinson leads Wake Forest with 21 carries for just 73 yards, a 3.5 average and a touchdown. Freshman running back Tyler Bell led Wake with 12 carries for only 39 yards last week against Syracuse. Wake Forest longest run by far this season is a 70-yard touchdown run by quarterback John Wolford.

The Black Knights run defense allowed the Demon Deacons 100 rushing yards, a 3.3 per yard carry and a touchdown last year. The defense played a lot of nickel which gave Wake Forest some running lanes. Army could not stop Wake Forest on the final series on a third-and-eight run to give themselves one more chance. Army is ranked 57thth in the country against the run this year. The Black Knights have allowed 134 rushing yards per game and six touchdowns this year. Mike linebacker Andrew King (15 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 FR) has been an impact defender. Will linebacker Jeremy Timpf (18 tackles) had a much better game last week following an uncharacteristically rough home opener. Nose guard T.J. Altimalala was in on six tackles and had 2 1/2 for a loss against UConn. He did a nice job shooting the A-gaps all game. Defensive end John Voit (10 tackles, sack) should give the Demon Deacons offensive line trouble.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Wake Forest's place kicker Mike Weaver is 3-for-5 in field goal attempts this season and has hit all his extra points. Weaver has a strong leg with seven touch-backs on 12 kickoffs. Last year Weaver hit 15-of-19 field goal attempts. The Deacons have a very good punter in Alex Kinal who is averaging 44.0 per punt with seven placed inside the twenty yard line and he boomed one over fifty yards. John Armstrong is averaging 20.5 on kickoff returns and Tabari Hines is averaging 7.8 yards per punt return. The Demon Deacons have been average on their coverage units.

Senior Daniel Grochowski hit on his only field goal attempt, 41- yard field goal, against UConn and has been perfect on his PAT's. He boomed the ball on his kickoffs producing three touch backs in four tries last week. Punter Alex Tardieu is averaging 43.1 per punt. He placed two punts inside the twenty yard line. Tardieu hit a career long 56-yard punt. Marcus Hyatt is averaging 17.4 per kickoff return. Punt returner Edgar Poe has no return average yet. The Army kick and punt coverage teams have been good and have benefited from the athletic freshman class on their coverage units.

COACHING
EDGE: WAKE FOREST
REMARKS: Dave Clawson has made his reputation as a coach capable of rebuilding a football program. He has turned around Fordham, Richmond and Bowling Green. Bowling Green went 10-3 in his last year and won the MAC East title with a 7-1 record. In his 15 years as a head coach, Clawson has won conference championships at every coaching stop. He put together a good staff but will need time to rebuild the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is one of the youngest teams in the country. Clawson has a good defense and has added talent in the passing game but must improve the putrid offensive line play.

Jeff Monken needs to get his offensive line fixed or this will be a long season. Army has struggled running the ball and is ranked just 46th in the nation averaging 218 rushing yards a game. In last year's game, I thought defensive coordinator Jay Bateman played too much nickel defense against a bad ACC offensive line. The Black Knights may have been better off in their base defense and blitzing more. Andrew King has been very effective rushing the quarterback. Last year Monken was way too aggressive in trying to force the issue with two on side kicks. Wake Forest did have some flaws in their kick return team but the tactic made no sense to me. Wake Forest was a team whose offense came in struggling in both run and pass blocking. Why give them a short field? They drove 49 yards in just five plays for their second touchdown. I would have made them earn it.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: ARMY
REMARKS: The Deacons lead the series 10-4 and have won the last eight meetings including each of the last three seasons. The Demon Deacons aren’t a very good team right now but they have improved and have some legitimate ACC talent. They will be confident since they have proved they can defeat Army. The Black Knights usually play much better at home. Army will be desperate to avoid an 0-3 start for the first time since 2012.

PREDICTION: ARMY 31, WAKE FOREST 21. I had predicted an Army win in preseason but I didn't expect to see the Black Knights running game struggle this much. The offensive line is banged up as well. Tackle Drew Hennessy is out and both Brett Toth and Jaryn Villegas were hurt against UConn and are questionable. If both are out the offensive line will be shuffled again. Not exactly what you want to create cohesion in a struggling unit. Wake Forest has a good front seven on defense and their receivers can exploit the lack of speed and tackling in the Army secondary on offense. The Black Knights should have won last year’s game but two fumbles, penalties, mental mistakes and poor coaching decisions let a bad Wake Forest team beat them late in the fourth quarter. This year I think Wake Forest has more talent and will win their ninth straight game in the series and defeat Army for the fourth year in a row.

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