The Wisconsin Badgers will face off against the Army Black Knights on Saturday night for the first time in program history.
Army enters the contest with a 4-1 record on the season thanks to wins against Georgia State, Western Kentucky, UConn and Miami (Ohio). They do so scoring more than 34 points per game…but only throwing the ball 5-7 times.
The matchup between these two teams presents a captivating case study for those who love old-school football. Wisconsin relies heavily on the run game and time of possession, while Army runs the triple-option and only throws six passes per game.
Here is a complete team preview for the 2021 Army Black Knights:
Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Head coach: Jeff Monken
Offensive coordinator: Brent Davis
Defensive coordinator: Nate Woody
Sep 25, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Christian Anderson (4) throws a pass against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Quarterback Christian Anderson
Running back Tyrell Robinson
Running back Jakobi Buchanan
Linebacker Andre Carter II
Outside linebacker Nathaniel Smith
Safety Marquel Broughton
Scouting report: Offense
Oct 2, 2021; Muncie, Indiana, USA; Army Black Knights running back Tyrell Robinson (21) runs with the ball against the Ball State Cardinals during the second half at Scheumann Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
49.32% on third down
69.6 passing yards-per-game, 4 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 sack allowed
1591 rushing yards, 4.9 yards-per-carry, 318.2 rushing yards-per-game, 19 touchdowns
Triple Option is fun.
Up to this point, OU hadn't played many snaps in an even front. They go to it here and as Army runs triple option. Ball gets outside and the quarterback makes a nice move on the linebacker pic.twitter.com/d6JdceLFEd
— Seth Galina (@pff_seth) April 17, 2019
Each play sees a halfback dive option, some sort of toss or a quarterback keeper. The Black Knights then give other looks out of the same package that are designed to catch the defense off guard after spending much of the game in the same set. It’s an offensive attack that requires intense focus, discipline and stamina to stop.
As I outlined in the contest’s most interesting and important statistics, the unit is one of the best in the country at converting third downs. However, it also ranks as one of the lowest in early-down efficiency.
Jim Leonhard’s defense should be well-equipped to stop the Army attack. It’s been a successful unit thus far, though, so it won’t be close to a pushover.
Scouting report: Defense
Sep 18, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter (34) lines up during the first half against the UConn Huskies at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
20.8 points allowed-per-game
276 yards allowed-per-game
4 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 22 tackles-for-loss, 12 sacks
The Army defense has been stout against the run all season—allowing only 54 yards per game and 2.4 yards per carry. They have yet to play at Power Five opponent, though, so some of that success could just be the strength of schedule.
The Black Knights only throw the ball an average of six times per game.
Out-of-context stat of the day? The team still has more touchdown passes than the Badgers.
Total touchdown passes entering Saturday's matchup between Wisconsin and Army:
Army Black Knights: 4
Wisconsin Badgers: 3
— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) October 13, 2021
Anyway, Army has some defenders to be concerned about. Linebacker Andre Carter II has 7 tackles for loss and 6 sacks this season, safety Marquel Broughton has 2 interceptions and linebacker Arik Smith is the team’s leading tackler with 26.
The matchup is a good one for Graham Mertz and the Wisconsin passing offense. If the unit blocks up front and holds onto the football, Wisconsin shouldn’t have much trouble coming away with a victory.