At 5-3 the Army Black Knights are one win away from bowl eligibility for the first time in six years. That is the best takeaway from an ugly, defensive battle against Wake Forest, where both teams had plenty on the line and that showed as the contest was often cagey and rarely beautiful. It is safe to say though that no one in black and gold will care if Army gets that final win and has an extra game on the schedule in late December.
Here are the three keys revisited:
1) Run the ball effectively - Pass
Running the ball against the 20th best rushing defense in the nation proved difficult for Army on Saturday evening, but the Black Knights did move the ball better than they did last season in the corresponding fixture against Wake Forest. The 2015 Army rushing attack was held to just 186 yards, while the 2016 version was able to put up 238 yards toting the ball.
No single Army player had a standout performance on the ground and Ahmad Bradshaw was the Black Knights leading rusher with 65 yards and a touchdown, although it took him 27 carries to get those hard earned yards. There were three other Black Knights that had at least 42 yards rushing, with fullbacks Andy Davidson and Darnell Woolfolk effectively splitting time at the position.
2) No more turnovers - Push
This is not exactly a failing grade, but it is no strong endorsement either. Fresh off of an effort where the Black Knights gave the ball away a stunning seven times, Army was able to do much better against the Demon Deacons. Much better is not perfect, however, as the Black Knights still committed two turnovers. Army's interception and its fumble both occurred within the first three series of the second half, with the interception being particularly brutal as it happened in the end zone.
With the teams tied at two turnovers apiece heading into the fourth quarter, it was the Army defense that made the biggest play of the day with a Jaylon McClinton interception of Wake quarterback John Wolford leading to the game-clinching Army score.
3) Keep Wake under 55 plays - Fail
Army was able to dominate possession against Wake because of the Black Knights massive fourth quarter effort. The Demon Deacons ran 66 total plays to the Black Knights 73 and Army had the ball for almost 36 minutes to Wake's 24 minutes. All this was important as it stopped Wake having too many opportunities to strike with big plays. Army kept Wake in check, allowing a long run of 20 yards and a long pass of 48 yards for the game.