Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Head to Head: Army at Wake Forest

The Army Black Knights are two wins away from bowl eligibility with the season past its halfway mark. The team travels to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest this weekend.



After the interceptionfest last time out, it is hard to say that the Army passing offense would beat any passing defense at this point. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw is 22 of 54 attempts for 336 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions. Bradshaw has still not thrown a touchdown pass this year against an FBS team as his only passing score was against Lafayette of the FCS. Against Notre Texas, Bradshaw was forced to throw the ball 21 times, but he was only able to complete 33% of his passes. Army is in better passing shape when Chris Carter is in the game as he has passed for 176 yards on the season with two touchdowns to one interception.

The Wake Forest pass defense has been useful int 2016. The Demon Deacons give up an average of just under 260 yards per game through the air, but they have given up only eight touchdowns passing, which works out to one passing score for their opponents per game. The defense has a stud pass rusher in Duke Ejiofor who has 7.5 sacks on the season. Wake is not particularly adept at going after the ball in the air and the team has just eight interceptionson the season.



Army is still rushing the ball better than all but one team in the country and the Black Knights average 357 yards per game on the ground. It is a balanced rushing attack with nine different ball carriers having rushed for over 100 yards on the season and 10 players having scored at least one of the Black Knights 26 rushing touchdowns. Most of the work is done by fullback Andy Davidson (615 yards) and quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (496 yards) who gave combined for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Wake Forest defense is not one that Army will take lightly. In 2015 this same defense held Bradshaw to just 61 yards and held Army as a team to 186 rushing yards on 54 attempts. This season Wake has the #20 rushing defense in the country and the team allows less than 120 yards per game on the ground. Wake has also only allowed eight rushing touchdowns to be scored against them and the defense has forced eight fumbles and recovered seven of them.



Wake has passed for 1,204 yards this season on 108 receptions and has just three passing touchdowns. Most of those passes have come from junior QB John Wolford who has attempted 172 passes, and 95 have been completed sitting at roughly 55 percent. Wolford also has thrown all three of the Wake touchdowns and he has tossed four interceptions. The Demon Deacons would love to use Kendall Hinton in this game, but he has been out for four weeks with a sprained MCL. Wake does like to spread the ball around when it comes to catching passes and they have five receivers with 10 or more catches and none with more than 21.

The Army defense has played exceptionally well this season and the defense was not to blame for the debacle last weekend. The Black Knights give up just 155 yards per game through the air and have allowed just six passing touchdowns. Army has nine interceptions on the season, with Jeremy Timpf, Kenneth Brinson, and Marcus Hyatt, each having two picks each. Army shares its sacks around and has 17 on the season with Alex Aukerman pacing the team with five.



The Wake rushing attack is the best part of the team's offense. RB Matt Colburn is the leading rusher and he has carried the ball 90 times for 377 yards and one touchdown. He splits time in the backfield with Cade Carney who has 643 carries on the seasons for 266 yards and four scores. He also has the long rush of the year at 55 yards. Quarterback Wolford also runs the ball and has chipped in with 296 yards and a team-high five rushing touchdowns. As a team, Wake rushes for right around 161 yards per game, but it is an attack without a stud back that the Black Knights can shut down.

The Army rushing.defense had been spectacular in 2016 until last week when running back Jeffrey Wilson went off for 160 yards and three touchdowns against this defense. The bright side is that Wilson is the only back this season to do anything like that damage and that a good performance this weekend from the defense would cement his performance as a fluke as opposed to the norm. Also, much of Wilson's yardage came on two big runs, so Army has to make sure to shut down those big-play opportunities against Wake by making better initial tackles.



Army's two kickers are still a weakness that occasionally leads to decision-making problems for head coach Jeff Monken. Black Wilson and Howard Mitchell have combined to go 5-of-9 on the season and neither has even attempted a kick beyond the 30-39 yard bracket. Punting has also been an adventure with Nick Schrage averaging 35.5 yards on his 12 punts this season. Schrage has a long of 56 yards, so he has a strong leg, but he has also had a punt blocked and doesn't force enough fair catches (two on the year).

Special teams are all about efficiency and Wake Forest has one of the best special teams efficiency ratings in the ACC. Wake has only allowed 38 yards on punt returns all year and the kickoff coverage unit is also strong. Wake has used two punters this season with Dom Maggio and Mike Weaver combining to average over 43 yards per punt. Weaver is also 9-of-11 on his field goal tries and an impressive 3-of-4 on kicks in the 40-49 yard range.



Third-year head coach Dave Clawson is 11-20 at Wake Forest. He has turned Wake around in three seasons after taking over a job that was one of the worst in the country. Before his time at Wake, Clawson was the head coach at Bowling Green where his squad fell apart for a 2-10 second season before going 10-3 in his final year on the job. Including stints at a couple of FCS schools, Clawson is 101-99 as a head coach.

Third-year Army head coach Jeff Monken is 10-21 at Army. He previously was the head coach at Georgia Southern and was 38-16 with the Golden Eagles, but he was winless in the FCS playoffs in three attempts. Monken has had stints all over the country before becoming a college head coach, including putting in time at Navy, Georgia Tech, and Buffalo.



It is frustrating that Army faces a team coming off of their bye for the second straight week. That extra time that the Demon Deacons have been able to put in to work out how to stop the option could be vital here. It is also a plus point for Wake that they are playing this game at home, and with two top 5 teams left on the schedule the Deacs have a big incentive to win here and get bowl eligible before hitting the toughest stretch of their season. Wake is also looking for its tenth win in a row over the Black Knights, a streak that Army has had chances to stop over the years but just has not been able to finish.

Prediction:  Army 28, Wake 17. All signs here point to Wake Forest as the home team and a seven-point favorite. This though is a big game for Army as the Black Knights also have a tough stretch coming up. Wake just doesn't move the ball or score all that well and the Army defense will be able to shut down their attack. If Army can refrain from turning the ball over then they win this game.

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