Opponent: Army Black Knights
Time: September 20th. Time not yet announced.
Location: Michie Stadium (Capacity: 40,000 )
Head Coach: Jeff Monken (1st season; 38-16 overall at Georgia Southern)
Series History: Wake Forest is 9-4 overall
2013 Record: 3-9
Army is perhaps the most difficult head coaching job in college football given the recruiting restrictions as well as the other commitments required of the players. The Black Knights have won just eight games over the past three seasons, and fired Rich Ellerson because of those lackluster results. Let's dive in to learn more about this year's offense and their new head coach.
Army is a triple-option team, who rarely passed the ball under previous head coach Rich Ellerson (82% of offensive plays last season were runs). As Bill Connelly points out in his excellent Army preview, Army will almost assuredly pass more under new coach Jeff Monken. That has resulted in A.J. Schurr being listed atop the quarterback depth chart after spring practice.
Army has a host of very serviceable running backs. Terry Baggett averaged 7.9 yards/carry last season for 1,113 yards and had 8 touchdowns. Larry Dixon is a bigger back, who still managed 6.2 yards/carry on 112 attempts. If Schurr is the starting quarterback, then last year's quarterback Angel Santiago could conceivably play some running back, although he averaged "just" 4 yards/carry last season.
Receivers are typically not a strong suit for Army. It's hard finding athletes to play for a service academy, but it's even harder to find quality receivers willing to play in an option-offense. The two leading receivers from last season - Xavier Moss and Chevaughn Lawrence, combined to average just 3.8 receptions per game. Monken may want to air it out more, but does he have the players to get it done?
Army's line is really small. Offensive lines in option offenses tend to be smaller, but their projected left tackle is just 6' 0" 248 pounds. They will be the same size as defensive linemen, but will be less athletic. They return three starters, but lost two-year starting left tackle Michael Kime. The weakest part of Wake Forest's defense will be its defensive line, but they should do just fine against Army.
Jeff Monken will be replacing Rich Ellerson, who was fired in December after going 8-28 over his last three seasons at Army. Monken comes to Army from Georgia Southern, where he went 38-16 and made the FCS Semifinals in three out of his four seasons. He was mentored by Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson at both Navy and Georgia Tech. Monken will have some experienced pieces to work with this year. We will see what Monken can do in year one with an experienced offensive unit.
Part two will be out tomorrow, where the 2014 Army defense and special teams is broken down and a way-too-early prediction is given on the game.