Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Three keys revisited: Army vs Lafayette

The Army Black Knights (3-2) should be playing in much better weather this Saturday as they return to West Point to take on the Lafayette Leopards (1-5). As you can probably tell by their record, the Leopards are far from the best team in the FCS, but Army needs to look back only 12 months to see what can happen if you take a team from a division lower too lightly. Here are the three keys to Army beating the Leopards and not tripping over themselves as happened in the Fordham game last seaso

The Army Black Knights (4-2) were utterly dominant on Saturday in their 62-7 victory over the Lafayette Leopards (1-6). Army did exactly what it should do against an overmatched opponent, dominating the game from the kickoff and putting up an insurmountable lead by halftime. It was a beatdown so thorough that the normally mild-mannered Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani exploded before a question was even asked during his media spot after the game. This was a homecoming date that will like long in the memory for those in attendance.

Here is a look back at how the three keys played out:

1) Play to the strength of the offense - Pass

Army had a field day running the ball against a Lafayette defense that seemed to have no idea how to stop the option. After allowing 516 rushing yards to Fordham, the Leopards somehow allowed Army to do even better as they gave up 537 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. Twelve Army ballcarriers gained positive yards on the day, with Ahmad Bradshaw amassing 109 yards (and a score) on just six carries. It was the quarterback run specifically that was killing Lafayette, as Malik McGue (94 yards) and Chris Carter (56 yards) also had big days rushing the ball.

Army also did an excellent job of running the ball to set up the pass. With the option working so well the Lafayette secondary was having to play close to the line and bit on seemingly every fake Army used. That allowed Bradshaw and Carter to go a combined 7-of-13 through the air for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

2) Be better on third down Pass

The lack of conversions on third down attempts killed everything Army tried against Duke. Going 2-of-13 on third down is not acceptable for a triple-option offense regardless of the weather conditions, but Army certainly got this aspect of the game fixed against Lafayette. The Black Knights saw few third down opportunities, even though Army had 31 first downs on the day because the power running converted on first and second down so often. Army was able to convert when needed though, going 6-of-8 on third down opportunities and converting at a 75% clip. Sustaining drives in this way will lead to a win more often than not.

3) Win the turnover battle - Pass

It was 35-7 late in the first half when the Black Knights committed their first (and only turnover of the game). It was a fumble that was returned to the Army 11 yard line and it gave the Leopards a glimmer of hope that they could get back into the game with another score just before halftime. That is when Marcus Hyatt stepped up and intercepted a Drew Reed pass in the end zone, completely swinging momentum back in the favor of Army. An interception late in the game (with the Black Knights ahead 55-7) meant that Army won the turnover battle on the day 2-1.


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