The Army Black Knights (4-2) will take on the North texas Mean Green (3-3) on Saturday at West Point. The Black Knights know that a win here puts the one game away from bowl eligibility and that as the schedule toughens down the stretch (Navy, Air Force, Notre Dame) a win here is vital. The Black Knights offense got rolling again against Lafayette last time out, so lets see what the team can do when faced by the Mean Green.
Here are the three keys:
1) Run the ball effectively
Army put on an option clinic when the Lafayette Leopards came to town. The Black Knights have the #1 ranked rushing game in the nation and are churning out an average of 366.8 yards per contest on the ground. The North Texas defensive front has been pretty solid, but they have yet to face anything like the pressure Army will put on that unit. The Mean Green are giving up 189 yards on the ground and the Army offense is buzzing after putting up a season-high 671 yards in total offense last weekend. If Army can run the ball at anything like the season average then the Black Knights will win the game.
2) Stop Jeffrey Wilson
North Texas had a week off to prepare for Army, but in their most recent outing against Marshall, the star of the show offensively was running back Jeffrey Wilson. The junior rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns against the Thundering Herd, showing toughness in between the tackles and a burst when he was able to reach the open field. His yardage came on 26 carries and his long run of 72 yards shows what can happen if Wilson is allowed to break through the first line of defense. Army though has been sensational against the run in 2016. The Black Knights allow just 84.2 yards rushing per game, second in the country behind the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. The battle of Wilson against the Army linebackers is one to watch on Saturday.
3) Pressure the North Texas offensive line
The Mean Green have some pieces in the skill positions, but their offensive line is a big question mark six games into the season. Due to a combination of graduations, personal issues, and injuries, North texas has used three different starting line-ups through six games and five different packages in total. This was after the team lost three starters at various points during the offseason.
This fragility has shown at points this season. Against Florida (in a 32-0 rout) UNT quarterback Mason Fine was sacked seven times, setting a new Gators record for most sacks in a game. In total Fine has ben sacked 27 times in 2016, a number that equals the total number of times a North texas quarterback was sacked all last season. Against Middle Tennessee, the line not only failed to protect the quarterback (four sacks) they also couldn't open holes in the running game and the team gained just five yards on the ground all game.