Heading into the 122nd edition of the Army-Navy game, the Black Knights are leading a four-game winning streak and have a lot of things working well for them on both sides of the ball.
At 8-3, the Black Knights already retain the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy at West Point, thanks to their 21-14 overtime victory over the Air Force. Because the Navy lost to the Air Force, if the Mids beat the Black Knights it would result in a three-way tie for the CIC – meaning the trophy would stay with last year’s winner.
But obviously the military wants to beat the navy and win this thing right off the bat. The Black Knights have won the CIC three times under Jeff Monken.
To see what the Black Knights have in their arsenal, here’s a look at the offense and defense this team has amassed for America’s Game:
The army’s offensive is converted when it counts. The Black Knights are seventh nationally for fourth-place conversion rate and eighth nationally for third-place conversion rate. Keeping their offense on the ground and converting on those key drops helped the military lead the country in possession, a critical stat for the success of the Triple Option.
Since losing three in a row, Army has won victories against Air Force, Bucknell, UMass and Liberty. The Army’s offense has averaged 37 points per game during that streak.
The Black Knights have done a great job sharing the rushed offense in their roster. It’s highly likely that Navy will see Tyrell Robinson, AJ Howard, and Jakobi Buchanan carrying the rock. Robinson alone has scored 582 rushing yards, while Buchanan has 11 rushing touchdowns this season.
On the ground, the Navy will also have to contend with what has been a unique force for the Army – its continuous rotation of shifts. At the start of the season, head coach Jeff Monken hadn’t revealed too many details on who would start, barely a gap from the 2020 season.
âI don’t know if it’s still good to run the quarterfinals, but we did it last year and it worked pretty well for a few games there,â Monken said last spring.
When senior Christian Anderson has the ball, he’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has totaled 1,070 total yards per scrum in his nine games this season. Anderson’s stats are impressive, considering he injured his shoulder in the Miami of Ohio game in Week 4. But Army opponents didn’t see his quarterback slip when Anderson was on the sidelines.
While Anderson is likely to start against the Mids, Navy could still see Tyhier Tyler, Cade Ballard or even Jabari Laws under center. Laws has thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions this season, while Tyler has rushed for seven touchdowns.
As usual under Monken, the Army has one of the best ground infractions in the country, averaging 301.7 yards per game, which is second nationally, just behind the Army. air.
The challenge for the Navy in defending the Army’s offensive will be to accommodate multiple backers and potentially multiple quarterbacks.
If you had to describe army defense in one word, I would use “consistent”. Since Nate Woody’s arrival ahead of the 2020 season, the Black Knights are averaging just 18.8 points per game. The Army has only allowed more than 21 points three times this season.
Leading the team this season, Andre Carter is currently ranked third in the nation in sacks (13.5), ninth in forced fumbles (4) and thirteenth in loss tackles (15). The Navy has had tough defenses this season with Air Force and Cincinnati, but they suffered losses in both clashes.
Army has won four of the last five encounters against Navy, with the latest victory being 15-0 – the first time the Navy has been shut out in the game since 1969. Army would like that to happen again.
We’ve already wondered if Army could repeat their successful 9-3 season in 2020. At the time, it seemed possible, but not guaranteed. Now seated at 8-3, the Black Knights could really make that happen again.