At the beginning of June we will start a series looking at the Black Knights upcoming opponents as a traditional preview. Think of this series of four articles as the preview to the preview. Each week we will take three teams that Army will face in 2016 and quick hit on three strengths and three weaknesses of each. These mini-previews are going to be set out in the reverse order of the team’s projected strength for the 2016 season.
- · The team returns 15 starters spread evenly on both sides of the ball.
- · Interim head coach Fred Farrier saw his offense set 35 school records as the Bears reached the FCS playoffs for the first time in 2014.
- · Herb Walker Jr., a former 1,000-yard running back, returns after being ineligible last season.
- · The team still doesn’t play as fast and with as much intelligence as their head coach demands.
- · It is an FCS team so the players will not be used to the speed and power of the Army option attack.
- · Morgan State is banned from postseason play. With they care about this game or will it be their Bowl Game?
- · Will Fred Farrier still have the label of interim head coach by the time Army plays Morgan State?
Prediction – Army should win, but Morgan State is no run of the mill FCS squad.
- · Quarterback Drew Reed has regressed after leading the Leopards to a Patriot League championship as a freshman. He will need to refind that form.
- · Depth at running back is going to be key for a team that wants to run the ball more. The Leopards have four running backs that the coaching staff think can be productive at this level.
- · The offense has to be better. The Leopards were shut out twice and scored just one touchdown in five other games.
- · Toughness was a problem for the team last fall. Though strides have been made this spring Lafayette needs to get tougher on both sides of the ball to match the triple-option offense Army employs.
· Coming off of a 1-10 season Lafayette needs to find a way to stay free of injuries that cost the team late in the year when only 50 of 90 players were available.
- · The Leopards didn’t strap on full pads once this spring. Will that make them slow out of the gate in the fall?
- · So many players are returning from injury. How much will they improve the team?
Prediction – This is a game Army has to win, and win big, to prove the Black Knights are moving in the right direction.
- · The Mean Green has eight defensive starters returning to a unit that got better as 2015 wore on.
- · North Texas picked up an Alabama transfer at quarterback when Alex Morris joined the team. He is eligibly immediately and with the top two rushing threats from last season returning the offense will be much better in 2016.
- · The new offensive coordinator is Graham Harrell. The same Graham Harrell who threw for almost 16,000 yards and hit 134 touchdowns at Texas Tech. This team is going to throw the ball all day long.
- · The Mean Green’s biggest problem last year was a lack of size and lack of technique in the trenches. If they lines don’t get better then the team will struggle again.
- · The offense will be completely changing to become an air raid style attack. This is going to be a problem as the parts are not in place at this point barring a stunningly over productive recruiting class.
- · The rushing defense is just awful. North Texas allowed 42% or run plays to go for at least five yards and 94 carries went for at least 10 yards. Bad.
- · North Texas managed to lose 66-7 to Portland State (an FCS opponent) on homecoming day last year. Does this season’s squad use that as motivation to be far better than expected?
- · The coaching hire is a good one. How long will it take Seth Littrell to install his identity?
Prediction – Army catches North Texas in the middle of the season. This will be a game between two teams on the rise that the Black Knights will win.