CIC Improvement Series, Part I: Army

This is the first of a three-part series in which the needs of the three FBS service academies are examined within the context of head-to-head competition.

Army hasn't held the honor of the Commander-In-Chief's trophy since 1996. From 1997 to the present day, it can claim only four wins in the three-way rivalry with fellow academies Air Force and Navy. Last year the Black Knights were able to beat Air Force, but a season-ending loss to Navy cost the team its chance to reclaim a trophy that has eluded them. If they're going to make a run at it in 2013, one main issue must be addressed.

Army featured a prolific running game last season that ranked tops in the entire country in yards per game. While the triple-option offense helped in that regard, it's not as though the competition in the CIC Trophy series was doing anything differently. Army outperformed either of the other two service academies on the ground. What did in Army last season, the bugaboo that ultimately cost the Black Knights a chance at the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, was turnovers. A crushing fumble last season on a handoff between quarterback Trent Steelman and fullback Larry Dixon sent Army to another agonizing defeat at the hands of Navy. A victory in that contest would have given Army the streak-busting, hardware-bearing win that West Pointers have so deeply longed for in recent years.

Given that their offense is so productive on the ground and can be a wonderfully time-consuming force, turnovers kill the Black Knights perhaps as much as any team in the country. Navy forced three turnovers against Army in the win last year, and despite the plus-three edge in that department, the Midshipmen had to sweat out that game late in order to hold on. Army brings back the most productive rushing attack of the three schools, and while the Black Knights would love to win six games and get to a bowl, the reality is that getting back the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy should be priority number one. The Black Knights showed last year that when they don't put the ball on the ground, they can run it down opponents' throats. In 2013 that may be the key to determining if they can win the rivalry series for the first time since 1996. Top Stories