Blogger So Dear: After a nice start it seems that Army has hit a rough patch over their last few games, especially the North Texas debacle last week. What is the Army fan base's overall view of the season so far relative to expectations?
Jake Schmied: Army football continues to impress fans this season. In 2015, the Black Knights finished with a 2-10 record. They have surpassed expectations this season, with a 4-3 record heading into week 8. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw is playing at a more confident level, as he is trusted with more responsibilities. The coaching staff is running the ball more partly because the Black Knights have so much depth at the slotback position. Fullback Andy Davidson, in particular, has seen his reps increase, as he was once one of the top 10 rushers in the nation. Overall, the rushing game has given the fanbase something to cheer about.
BSD: What has changed from the Temple game that allowed teams like Buffalo and North Texas to come out on top?
JS: The Temple game was a clear example of the underdog taking control of the game. The Owls led at halftime 10-7. Last season, a common trend was that the Black Knights fell behind early. Army would make a comeback, but came up short. This was not the case in Philadelphia. The Owls led 10-7 at halftime. Army's run game dictated the tempo of the second half, which is why they won. Army lost for different reasons against Buffalo and North Texas. They led by two scores against Buffalo in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls came back and eventually nailed a field goal to win the game in overtime. Against North Texas, Bradshaw attempted to throw the ball almost as he ran it. The junior threw the ball 21 times and had 24 carries. However, he threw 4 interceptions, which led North Texas to score short-run touchdowns because of Army's turnover. Army wants to run the ball more, which cost them a loss to Duke a few weeks ago.
BSD: Everyone is well aware of Army's triple-option attack on offense. Who are the one or two biggest home run threats on this year's squad that Wake will need to account for?
JS: It's hard to comprehend Andy Davidson's emergence as Army's top rusher; he was used as a linebacker last season. He averages 5.4 yards per carry, as he is used in short run and goal line situations. Wake Forest's defense could struggle against Ahmad Bradshaw. The junior quarterback, like the Demon Deacons' John Wolford, likes the read option. Bradshaw has accumulated 5 rushing touchdowns this season, mostly on plays where he keeps the ball himself.
BSD: It seems that Army's defense has been much stronger this season as compared to the past few. What are the specific strengths of the unit that are contributing to this success?
JS: The Black Knights' secondary is much stronger than last season, under the leadership of senior linebackers Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf. King is a quarterback's nightmare, as he consistently breaks past the opposing offensive line. He recorded 8 tackles against North Texas last week. Timpf had his second interception of the season, last week.
BSD: What concerns you most about the matchup against the Deacs?
JS: Quarterback John Wolford is a dual-threat quarterback. He runs a read option, similar to Bradshaw, and always seems to find openings created by his offensive line. He can also throw the short ball effectively. Although Army's passing defense ranks fourth nationally, they have not faced a quarterback that can run and pass. They are more skilled at defending the long ball.
BSD: Prediction time! How do you think the game will play out on Saturday?
JS: Army will have some trouble on the ground, going up against the nineteenth ranked run defense the Demon Deacons have. The key for the Black Knights will be keeping Wake Forest's Duke Ejiofor out of the pocket. He ranks in the top 10 for sacks. If Bradshaw can avoid pressure, the Black Knights could even put up some solid passing numbers. As I previously alluded to, containing quarterback John Wolford is a must for the Army defense. Andrew King and Jeremy Timpf cannot be the only ones pressuring the quarterback. The defensive line has to step up, as well.
Many thanks to Jake of Underdog Dynasty for taking the time to answer our questions.