For the second week in a row, the Army Black Knights (4-3) are set to take on a team coming off of a bye. This week it is the turn of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-2) to try to shut down the Army triple-option attack. Both schools are looking for wins towards bowl eligibility, so this has the potential of being a sneaky-good game.
Here are the three keys:
1) Run the ball effectively
It is a little worrying that the Wake Forest defense seems to know how to slow Army down. In the clash between the two schools last season, the Deacs were able to hold Ahmad Bradshaw to just 61 yards on the ground as the Black Knights carried the ball for just 186 yards at 3.4 yards per carry. This was hugely below the season average coming into the contest of 5.8 yards per carry.
The Wake defense is just as good this season and the Demon Deacons are 20th in rushing defense in 2016, allowing just under 120 yards per game on the ground. Army is still rushing the ball at 357 yards per contest, so it is going to be vital that the Black Knights are able to move the ball on the ground. This really is a matchup of strength against strength and the winner of this battle will most likely win the game.
2) No more turnovers
This one should really be obvious after the loss last Saturday against North Texas. Army is a ball control team that wears opponents down with the run. The key to being a ball control team is keeping hold of the ball and finishing drives with touchdowns. Army turned the ball over seven times against the Mean Green. Even the quickest strike offenses would struggle to overcome turnovers like that. Army is anything but a quick strike team and the fragility of the passing game (especially without Chris Carter) showed up in a big way when Army tried to chase the game. Wake Forest is a good team, but Army can win this if the Black Knights are more careful with the football.
3) Keep Wake under 55 plays
Army has improved drastically on defense this season. Part of that is the five-man front the Black Knights are using, but another (massive) part is that Army is limiting the opposition to so few plays. This all starts with the offense that is holding the ball for over 35 minutes and that is the best mark in the nation. Off the back of this offensive power, the Black Knights are third in the nation in total defense as they allow just 255.9 yards and 17 points per game. The fewer plays Wake runs, the less likely the Demon Deacons are to spring big plays and it was those big plays that killed Army against UNT.