The Air Force Falcons leave conference play in the Mountain West one final time this season as they play the second game in the Commander-in-Chief Trophy competition facing the Army Black Knights this Saturday at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs. To get a better understanding of the Army football team in 2015, we hit the internet superhighway to our friends over at Underdog Dynasty and Army writer Daniel Heaning.
MW Connection: How is the team improving in Jeff Monken's second year as head coach?
Daniel (UD): They kinda haven't. The problem with this season's Army team while comparing it to last season is there's been a good deal of turnover. For example, Ahmad Bradshaw took over for A.J. Schurr at quarterback at the beginning of the season. Schurr runs the offense better, but Bradshaw is capable of making so many more plays. Schurr turns the ball over way too often and Bradshaw can't seem to make consistent reads and distribute the ball while running the option. Another problem has been getting the fullbacks engaged in the offense. So their ability to rack up points is fairly inconsistent.
Meanwhile the defense is either doing a Yeoman's job and keeping the team in the games or just getting lit up. I trust when Monken gets his kids in and gets them time and reps in the offense that the team will improve, but as far as this season. No real improvement has been made. This is the beginning of the Monken led Army rebuild.
MW Connection: What are the strengths of this year's Army team?
Daniel (UD): Jeez, after all I just said it doesn't seem to be any. Obviously if they could ever get the offense and defense on the same page, they'd do some damage. They could have beaten Penn State, Wake Forest, or UCONN if the offense just made one more play, while they lost to Rice and Fordham because the defense could not get a stop to save their lives. But if Army could get a Wake Forest performance out of their defense and couple that with a Rice performance from the offense. They'd be a threat for sure.
MW Connection: What are the weaknesses of this year's Army team?
Daniel (UD): Special teams and turnovers. The Black Knights' special teams have made some curious decisions on fielding punts and kickoffs while they've managed to turn the ball over too. Army has enough problems dropping picks and Schurr or Bradshaw coughing up the football, but when the ST does it? It's a final nail in the coffin.
MW Connection: What do you feel are the keys for Army to upset Air Force this Saturday?
Daniel (UD): Air Force's Karson Roberts needs to have another dreadful CIC game. He was not good against Navy and the Middies didn't even need him to be that bad. Army does. Army cannot turn the ball over and needs the Falcons to make a habit of it. Otherwise, Army can hang around all they want, but will ultimately fall prey to Air Force being able to move the ball through the air. Other than winning the turnover battle, again, get the offense and defense on the same page. Army has never been great at scoring on Air Force or stopping them from racking up points, but if they can win the turnover battle by a good margin, they have a shot. If the Black Knights turn it over...they don't.
MW Connection: What is your final prediction?
Daniel (UD): Air Force is a weird team to me, but maybe that's because of the three service academies I've seen them the least. I tried watching some of their late games, but that usually doesn't work out. Regardless, they're capable of lighting up some teams and giving Michigan State a fight. However, they can also turn in absolutely bad performances like the one against Navy. I still think the Falcons will win this one. I don't believe the Black Knights are quite there yet. They have the potential to win this game, but haven't proven they can. Until Army shows me they can pull it off, I'll remain skeptical. Air Force 28, Army 17
Thanks to Daniel for taking the time to give us some feedback on the Army football team. You can follow Daniel on twitter at @Dan_Heaning or read his articles at Underdog Dynasty.