Army's offense and coaching was chronicled yesterday, while part two takes a look at the defense and special teams that the Black Knights will bring to the table. The overall good news for these two sectors is the number of returning players they will boast across the board. However the bad news for Army is that the defense ranked 112th in the country in yards allowed per play and 92nd in the nation in points allowed per game at 31.6.
The defensive line should be the best part of this Army defense. They return their five leading defensive linemen tacklers - four of whom are seniors. They have a very formidable pass rush when they are in pass down situations, and were 9th nationally in adjusted sack rate on those downs. On standard downs, however, they were a lowly 110th.
Their linebacker situation is the opposite of their defensive line. Army lost their three leading tacklers, but did return Julian Holloway, who led the team in tackles for loss last season. These units combined, however, to finish 107th last season in rushing yards allowed per play at 5.1.
Their secondary left a lot to be desired last season as they allowed 9.4 yards per attempt, which was 121st nationally. The unit is littered with former 2-star recruits who do not have the speed to keep up with BCS caliber athletes. They do have two seniors and one junior, so perhaps the experience will help them moving forward.
Their special teams also leaves a lot to be desired. Place kicker Daniel Grochowski was 114th nationally in average kickoff distance. He made all of his extra point attempts, but made just 75% of kicks inside of 40 yards. Punter Alex Tardieu averaged just 37.3 yards per punt. They lost their punt returners and kick returners, so will have to find replacements.
The non-conference portion of the schedule should end on a positive note for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest won last year's matchup 25-11, in what had to have been one of the only 25-11 games in football history. Army will be better this season and Wake Forest will be worse, but I still anticipate the Deacs come out ahead and get a win before heading into ACC season.
My way too early prediction for this one:
Check back next week for a preview of the Louisville Cardinals which will be the Demon Deacons' first ACC game of the 2014 football season. As always, go Deacs!