Army provided one of the biggest shocks on a wild opening weekend of college football action with a win over Temple in Philadelphia on Friday night. The Black Knights were as much as a 15-point underdog at kickoff, but Army massively outplayed those expectations to beat a very good Owls team 28-13. It is just one win, but there is a real feeling that Army is headed in the right direction after years in the wilderness.
Here is a look back at the three keys to Army's victory:
1) Pound away with the option - Pass
Time of possession is no longer the be all and end all to most teams in college football. Ever since Oregon took the tempo game to the next level coaches have looked away from time of possession to other stats that matter. If you are a triple-option team, however, controlling the clock is still important. Army held the ball for over 35 minutes against Temple, wearing down the defense with a bruising running game. Sophomore fullback Andy Davidson gave the Black Knights the spark and brutality from the position they lacked last year as he rumbled for 121 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn't flashy, but Army was very effective.
2) No turnovers from the quarterbacks - Pass
Army only put the ball in the air five times all game as Jeff Monken protected his quarterbacks. Army may have thrown the ball more if Chris Carter has seen more series, but with Ahmad Bradshaw being pretty much a pure runner it made sense to play to his strengths. Bradshaw did put the ball on the ground once, but the luck that so evaded Army in 2015 came back and the Black Knights maintained possession of the ball.
3) Linebackers have to make plays - Pass
The plays made by Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King were not of the highlight reel style, but both of Army's key linebackers contributed to the victory. Timpf had eight total tackles, King had four, and less heralded linebacker Kenneth Brinson made four tackles of his own to go along with a sack and an interception to make him the most versatile Army defender on the day. The linebacking corps really is a strength for Army this year and these players will have to continue to be assignment sound and tackle well in space if the Black Knights are to use this win as a platform to a successful season.