Alison Althouse

Three Keys to an Army win over Navy

The 116th Army-Navy game is set for Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. This year’s meeting has a little extra significance as it is the 125th anniversary of the very first showdown between the two academies way back in 1890.

The Army-Navy game is still the greatest single showcase event on the college football calendar and the 2-9 Black Knights of Army will be looking to upset the 9-2 Navy Midshipmen and snap a 13-game win streak for the Mids.

Here are the three keys that will lead to an Army upset:

1) Rushing domination

Navy is No. 2 in the nation in rushing offense at just over 330 yards per game while Army is No. 8 in the country at just under 255 yards per contest. Army coach Jeff Monken has already talked about the issues with stopping Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, especially as he is on a hot streak running the ball right now. To stop the Navy running game, the Black Knights linebackers are going to have to be very active and very disciplined. If Army can take away the fullback dive with the defensive tackles and inside backers, then the edge guys can work on containing Reynolds and his outside support.

On offense, the opposite has to be true and Army has to get Aaron Kemper going right up the middle of a surprisingly stout Navy defensive line. Kemper is the leading rusher this year with 506 yards to his name and he is explosive enough to make both the big gain and also the three or four-yard rushes that are the staple of this offense. If Kemper can get the ground game established then Army has a chance

2) Quickly adapt to whoever starts at quarterback

Army has started three quarterbacks in 2015, with senior A.J. Schurr, sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw, and freshman Chris Carter all spending time under center. Injuries and ball security issues seem to have made the first two quarterbacks somewhat expendable while Carter stepped into the line of fire for the Black Knights last game against Rutgers and ran for 111 yards and passed for 140 yards in his debut. With both Bradshaw and Schurr available again after their injury problems, only those within the Army camp know for sure who is going to start, who the backup will be and if there will be any platooning going on. Army needs to take advantage of any early uncertainty in the Navy defense and get points on the board quickly.

3) Win the battle of special teams

In a game with two option offenses going at it, field position is going to be a huge factor. Based purely on the numbers the Navy offense is better than the offense put out by Army, but a few key returns or great coverage by the special teams units can mitigate some of the difference. Army kicker Dan Grochowski has attempted just seven field goals this season and has hit on five of those attempts. Grochowski, however, did set his career long (52-yards) in the Army-Navy game last season. If it comes down to a battle of the kickers this is something of a push, but Army has to win the field position battle to make that a reality.


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