The Army Black knights (3-0) are back on the road this Saturday as they travel to Upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Bulls (0-2). It has been a stunning start to the season for Army who, after just three games, have already surpassed their win total for the entire 2015 season. This Buffalo game is another one that is very winnable for a team with its offense running at a high level and with confidence as high as it has been in years.
Here are the three keys to Army beating the Bulls:
1) Keep Andy Davidson rolling
The rush offense has been sensational in 2016 and much of the credit for that has to go to Army's first strong fullback. Andy Davidson was a linebacker last year and now he is sitting in the top 20 nationally in rushing attempts, yards, and yards per game. On top of that, he ranks fifth nationally with six rushing touchdowns. Davidson has that innate ability to take his big frame and make it skinny in a contact situation. That means he rarely, if ever (one carry for negative yards all season), gets thrown for a loss and always finds himself falling forward at the end of a run. Davidson has been a stunning surprise for Army this fall and he needs to keep his play going for Army to keep winning.
2) Better punting
As good as Army has been in most phases of the game, and the Black Knights have been excellent, there is currently one glaring weakness in Army's play. The punting has been stunningly awful and in many ways it is a good job Army scored early and often on UTEP as it allowed head coach Jeff Monken to keep his weakest unit off of the field. Army has the worst punting average in the nation at 30.63 yards per attempt. Not only is that bad, and it is worth noting that it is the lowest average by nearly five yards, it would be bad for even a half-decent high school punter. Army lost borderline NFL punter Alex Tardieu to graduation and his boots have proven to be hard for Nick Schrage to fill.
3) Keep creating turnovers
The Black Knights offensive power has been augmented nicely by timely plays on defense and special teams. Army has picked off five passes and recovered two fumbles through the first three games. This compares very favorably to the 11 turnovers the Black Knights created over the entire 2015 season. The defense starts with the linebackers, where Alex Aukerman and Kenneth Brinson have proven to be the perfect compliment at the outside linebacker spots to the expected domination of Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf inside. Eventually the offense will have a bad day. When that happens the defense will need to pick up the slack and continuing to create turnovers will go a long way toward that goal.