The Army Black Knights (3-2) need to forget about the Duke game. In most losses a team can learn a lot, but with the weather being such a factor against the Blue Devils the only takeaway from the contest is that Army cannot afford to fall behind early in a game (which we already knew anyway). Instead, the Black Knights should focus forwards as the schedule is still one that could see Army bowling if the team plays to its potential over the rest of the season. First up is a game against Lafayette of the FCS.
Season so far
The Leopards will travel to West Point to face their Patriot League (in other sports) foe on the back of a five-game losing streak. The season started off well enough for Lafayette as they opened with a win over fellow FCS member Central Connecticut State on the road with a 24-10 final. This though would be the Leopards only win of the season to date.
Lafayette was brought down to earth quickly with a home loss (24-6) against perennial FCS power Delaware in a game where the Leopards just couldn't get anything going on offense. This has proven to be a problem a couple of times against the better FCS schools as Lafayette has also lost 31-14 to Villanova in the middle of this streak.
In other games the offense gets going, but the defense falls apart. That is what happened in losses on the road at Princeton (35-31), at home against Holy Cross (38-28), and, most recently in the road game against Fordham where the Leopards were blown out 58-34. This is the game Army will look to emulate (offensively at least) as Fordham running back Chase Edmonds broke his own Patriot League record by rushing for 359 yards at an average of over 21 yards per carry.
Injuries and Suspensions
There are big question marks surrounding the status of Lafayette quarterback Drew Reed heading into the game against Army. Reed has a head injury that forced him to miss all but one series against holy Cross two weeks ago and the entire Fordham game last weekend. Head injuries are notoriously difficult to give an accurate prognosis on and if Reed has to sit then it will be up to senior Blake Searfoss to run the offense on Saturday. Searfoss has stepped up in the absence of Reed, passing for 280 yards and four touchdowns against Holy Cross and going 25-of-41 for 325 yards and a score against the Rams.
The other big player the Leopards are missing is junior linebacker Brandon Bryant. Bryant left the Holy Cross game in the same quarter as Reed and he has been lost for the season with knee ligament issues. This is a huge blow for the Lafayette defense as Bryant was an All-Patriot League selection in 2015 and his loss was clearly felt as Fordham was able to run all over the field last weekend.
Staying focused and getting the job done effectively are going to be the biggest challenges for Army against a bad Lafayette team. The Leopards have one of the worst run defenses in the FCS, while the Black Knights have one of the best rushing offenses in the FBS when the triple-option is working as it should. Head coach Jeff Monken will want to see Army do far better on third down than they managed in the Duke game when the team was just 2-of-13 in those situations. Army should have this game blown open by halftime and that would give some of the backups and depth players important minutes with games about to start coming thick and fast as we move into late October and November.