Game Time/TV - 9:30 a.m. on CBS
Series Record - Air Force leads 33-14-1
Last Week - Both teams were idle
Last Meeting - Air Force 42 Army 28
It is all or nothing for the Air Force Falcons this week when they travel to West Point, NY to take on the Army Black Knights. The Falcons will either claim their 19th Commander-in-Chief trophy by defeating the Black Knights or they will have to sit back and watch the Army-Navy game the second weekend in December to see who wins the trophy. Air Force will not be able to retain the trophy if they do not defeat Army Saturday, as Navy is the current holder of the trophy and would keep it in their possession if each team finished with one win and one loss.
Air Force can turn the December 14th Army-Navy game into a nice military appreciation game with no chance of the trophy being at stake by making sure they take care of three important keys.
Keep the Offensive Balance
Air Force under Troy Calhoun has added a lot of unique changes to the typical option attack that Army and Navy implement. They use some pistol spread looks and they also run more sweep than the other two academy schools. On top of that they have a nice play action passing attack that emphasizes the deep throw. But, against New Mexico two weeks ago, they reintroduced a heavy dose of power fullback football into their offensive attack and it paid off in the victory over the Lobos. Both Shayne Davern and D.J. Johnson played strong games in leading the Falcons ground attack. You add a consistent power dive to the savvy of quarterback Kale Pearson and playmakers Jacobi Owens, Jalen Robinette and Garrett Brown and the Falcons offense will be that much stronger than it has been so far this season.
Army is in a bit of a tailspin, having been beat by Kent State out of the MAC two weeks ago and this week dealing with a recruiting scandal in which the Black Knights used alcohol and women on a recruiting trip weekend. For most colleges, this is a non-issue, but for an Academy school this is a bigger deal. Air Force went through a similar investigation and has seen some player attrition because of such parties in the past. With Army starting out with a 2-5 record, the Falcons would be well served to come out highly efficient both offensively and defensively to get an early lead and let doubt creep into the back of the Army players minds. Academy games are always highly competitive and the Falcons will be on the road where they were defeated 41-21 the last time they played in West Point. Air Force is better equipped to play from behind, but that would not be a preferred way to play the game on Saturday for Calhoun and his coaching staff.
Take Away the Fullback
Senior fullback Larry Dixon (683 yards rushing) is the heart of the Black Knight offensive attack and Army will continue to feed him the ball. In the game against Navy, the Falcons saw themselves gutted by the fullbacks for two long touchdown runs. Air Force struggled against New Mexico's superior running game as well, giving up nearly 400 yards on the ground. Dixon has allowed quarterback Angel Santiago (543 yards rushing, 342 yards passing) to be a threat when he pulls the ball. Santiago has shared snaps with junior A.J. Schurr (241 yards rushing) and both signal callers have found room in the running game. The Falcons, like they did against Navy, need to force the Black Knights into passing situations. Army has only passed the ball 72 times this season, throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns. The Falcons will need their run stoppers in Jordan Pierce and Nick Fitzgerald to have big games. The Falcons will also be sure to bring ball hawk safety Weston Steelhammer close to the line of scrimmage to create havoc for Army.
- The Falcons have won four of their last five games and is perfect in their non-conference schedule this year.
- Army is ranked fourth in the nation in rushing while Air Force is ranked 11th.
- Since the start of the Commander-in-Chief Trophy competition, Air Force is 30-12 versus Army
- The first Army-Air Force game was played in Yankee Stadium in 1959.