Don Yates-ArmySports.com

Key Matchups: Army vs. Wake Forest

The third game of the year matches the Army Black Knights (Sagarin 140, 0-2) and the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division Demon Deacons (Sagarin 93, 1-1.) Wake Forest leads the series 10-4, having won the past eight match-ups.

Last year Army West Point led the game into the fourth quarter, but the Deacons scored the final 10 points to beat the Black Knights 24-21.  Wake Forest looks to get their first win against an FBS team this year.  Army looks to rebound from another tough loss and win their first game of the year.       

Last Week

In Syracuse, Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1) jumped out to a halftime lead over Syracuse, but the Orange squeezed the Demon Deacons in the second half to win 30-17.

Sophomore quarterback John Wolford set a career-high in passing for the second straight week completing 30 of 45 passes for 373 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.

Senior wide receiver, K.J. Brent led the Demon Deacons with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, while freshman Receiver Chuck Wade made five catches for 82 yards and freshman receiver Tabari Hines caught seven passes for 77 yards.  The Wake Forest rushing attack was limited to 67 yards on 24 carries.

The Orange (2-0, 1-0 ACC) forced three turnovers without committing one and took advantage of two second-half touchdown completions of more than 50 yards to win the game.  They are able to rush for 149 yards on 37 carries.

In East Hartford, sophomore quarterback Bryant Shirrefs was 19/25 for 270 yards.  The Huskies rushed 46 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns.  The Husky defense was able to limit the Army West Point Offense to 265 yards (127 coming on two plays) as the Huskies held on to beat the Cadets 22-17. 

Army West Point’s defense was greatly improved and they played well enough to win.  Army’s defensive coordinator Jay Bateman called a very unpredictable game as the Army defensive line used various stunts and blitz packages to pressure the Husky offense.  Junior linebacker Andrew King had three sacks, four and a half tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.  Sophomore defensive back Ryhan England led the team with 13 tackles.  Shirrefs went after senior defensive back Chris Carnegie repeatedly, but he held his own and had a strong game.  After waiting for three years it is great to see senior defensive lineman T.J. Atimala getting some playing time.  He had six tackles and 2 1/2 for loss.

The Army offense was not effective.  Sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw only threw three passes on the day.  This was a much different game plan from the prior week when Brashaw threw three passes on the first drive.  It was as if offensive coordinator Brent Davis was hoping that Bradshaw would be able to beat them on his own.  Bradshaw had a brilliant run in the second quarter, but the Husky defense was able to contain him well enough to win.  Bradshaw finished the day with 129 yards on 16 carries and a 56 yard touchdown run.  No other Black Knight carried the ball more than four times or 25 yards.

Senior quarterback A.J. Schurr made his 2015 debut and threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Joe Walker in a late fourth quarter effort.  For the final would-be game winning drive, Schurr threw into triple coverage and ended the Black Knights’ chances.

Overall, the defense was much improved from week one.  However, the offense was not effective and except for a couple of brilliant plays, were contained by the Huskies.  Army seems to have eliminated the fumble issue so far, but let’s see if they can keep this up.

Who is favored?

Wake Forest is favored by five points

What to look for?

Wake Forest enters the game averaging 380 yards passing and 505 yards per game total offense.  One of these games was against FCS Elon so the numbers are a little inflated.  The Army defense gives up an average 296 yards in the air.  Nearly every quarterback has his best day of the year against the Black Knight defense – this game should be no different.

For Army West Point to win, they will need to be effective on the ground and control the ball.  Army West Point is averaging 218 yards rushing and the Wake Forest is only yielding 100 yards on the ground.

Last year in Winston Salem, Army West Point was close to beating the Demon Deacons and they gained 341 yards on the ground.  While the Cadets have not looked great this year, they certainly appear to be improved from last year.  Wake Forest will return roughly the same defense that played last year.

This game will go one of two ways.  One – Wolford has a career day, passes for more than 500 yards, four touchdown passes and the Deacons cruise to an easy victory.  Two – the Black Knight offense is effective, they gain yards and chew up clock.  When Wake Forest does get the ball, they face a rested, energized, creative defense.  Army scores on offense and defense and wins.  As much as we would like to see the latter happen, we will not bet with our heart.  For Army to win, they would have to pull everything together, but they have shown no ability to do so thus far in the season.  We are certainly hoping and cheering that they do.

Final Score – Wake Forest 35 – Army 24 (predictions in 2015, 1-1)

Game will be shown on CBSSTV @ 12:00 EST.

 


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