College football season previews are in full swing across the nation (ours are coming soon) and it always interesting to see what rival fansites think of the Black Knights. One Foot Down is one of the better Notre Dame sites out there, and predictably there are plenty, and Eric Murtaugh of the site just finished a three part preview as to how he sees Army as an opponent for the Fighting Irish this fall. Here are some of his takes.
‘There aren't any major pieces gone from last year that Army is going to miss greatly so that should signal improvement. It'll be year three in Monken's system and once they get some stability (and better production) from the quarterback position we should see a nice uptick in scoring by the Black Knights.’
One Foot Down is not big at all on the ability of Ahmad Bradshaw at the quarterback position. In the opinion of Murtaugh though Bradshaw may get the start it is only a matter of time before Chris Carter takes over the job (though injury or performance) and at that point the real Black Knights offense will show. The site also points out that the Black Knights must get more from the fullback position and that losing 30 starts on the offensive line, plus key injuries this spring, will combine to make this offense a slow burner in the fall.
‘Yeah, it's pretty bad. There's so little positives to talk about when they only made 15 sacks and created 59 tackles for loss--both sub-100 totals in the national rankings. Combined that with their 11 turnovers which finished tied for second-to-last in the country and it was a brutal season of lacking playmaking ability at West Point.’
This defense was so young last year and that is a point that I don’t think can be overlooked when trying to predict how the unit will play in 2016. Army returns 9-of-11 starters and generally a young defense (even a bad one) with lots of experience will step up the season after. One Foot Down does however love Andrew King who is described as the Black Knights “One Shining Star.” Given Kin’s 24.5 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons the hype is understandable.
‘If there's hope it's in the youth of this program. Last year, the Black Knights saw 9 true freshmen combined to make 39 starts which is just an astounding number even for a military academy. It appears there's been a total re-set by Monken as he tries to build the program in his image but it won't be easy. Although Army recruits enormous-sized classes they recently announced 16 players--both from the 2016 class and USMAPS--will not be attending West Point.’
The predicted kickoff spread here is Notre Dame -28.5. That suggests that the Irish will cruise this by four (and a bit) touchdowns. The timing in the season makes this one interesting as Notre Dame (as always) are playing a brutal schedule while Army is certainly not. Add in the youth jelling and maybe this game might not be quite as easy as people are expecting in the middle of July.