The Army Black Knights have a bye this Saturday and can rest up and watch the rest of the country play college football for a change. It is an odd quirk, but as a player, you actually get to watch very little of the action on any given Saturday as game day is an all encompassing beast that gives the athletes very little in the way of downtime. The weekend off also gives us a great chance to look at what Army has done so far in 2016 and to give a realistic look at what is to come.
Army reaches the bye sitting pretty at 3-1, just a handful of wins away from bowl eligibility. Even though a little of the shine was taken away from the first third of the season with a disappointing performance against a very beatable Buffalo team last week, it should still be noted that Army has been dominant through most of the schedule so far. The Black Knights lead the nation in rushing at 375 yards per game and Army was able to build a 3-0 start for the first time since 1996. To do all this while also coping with the loss of much respected defensive back Brandon Jackson is quite remarkable.
“I think it’s important to maintain an even keel about where we’re at in terms of our record,” Army Coach Jeff Monken said. “There are too many examples of teams who start out really well as we have and peter out. And there are other teams who don’t start as strong but finish the year strong. What we’ve got to do is not be satisfied with just winning, but trying playing our best and trying to be the best that we can be individually.”
Playing at a high level down the stretch is going to be vitally important if Army can turn a 2-10 record in 2015 into a bowl game in 2016. Army has the two Commander-in-Chief's Trophy clashes against Air Force and Navy ahead of it, with both those teams being undefeated heading into their matchup in Colorado Springs on Saturday, It is fair to say that this is the best the three academies have looked concurrently in decades and if Army can maintain its level of play there is no reason to think it cannot beat one, or both, of its major rivals.
There are two FCS games on the slate (Lafayette and Morgan State) that should be victories, and the game against North Texas is another that Army should be aiming to win. Wake Forest are much better than expected this season, while Notre Dame is much worse and just fired its defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after a 1-3 start to the season. Add in Duke (sadly) losing one of its best players for the year, kick returner DeVon Edwards tore his ACL, and the schedule does appear to have more than enough winnable games for Army to go bowling this winter.null