WEST POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Kyle Flood of Rutgers and Army’s Jeff Monken are dealing with the same problem: their teams are headed in the wrong direction.
At least one will reverse field on Saturday when the Black Knights (2-8) host the Scarlet Knights (3-7) at Michie Stadium. Both teams still have something to play for despite their records.
Army, of course, has the season finale next month against Navy, one last chance to salvage a positive from another tough year. And despite the certainty of a sub-.500 season, Flood’s squad still has a glimmer of hope to play in a bowl game.
If the Scarlet Knights can break their four-game losing streak and win their final two games, that would put them at 5-7. Under NCAA rules they would be eligible for the postseason if there aren’t enough six-win teams to fill all of the slots in this year’s 41 bowl-game schedule.
“You play your heart out, you play with pride, you don’t stop,” Rutgers captain Quentin Gause said. “We’ve got some guys that heads may be down and whatever, but I had a big talk with them the other day and just told them you have to stay focused. Keep fighting. Give up is not in my language.”
Flood says he’ll think about the postseason if and when the time comes.
“We are going to do everything we can this week to be 1-0,” he said.
Ditto for the Black Knights, who have lost six games by a combined 26 points — two on field goals at home on the final play, including last week to Tulane.
That’s getting old for Monken.
“If you just get discouraged and hang your lip and feel sorry for yourself, they’re never going to get turned around,” the second-year coach said. “You got to get rid of disappointment and discouragement and … be determined that you’re going to turn it, that it’s going to get better, and to keep fighting. I don’t know if there is a better lesson for our guys.”
Some things to know when Rutgers visits Army on Saturday:
Army honors 24 seniors in their final home game, a class that has experienced only 11 victories in four years. Eight of those wins have come at Michie Stadium and include triumphs over Air Force and Boston College.
“They may not leave here with the record they would have hoped they would have earned, but they are doing things right now to build this program to a championship level,” Monken said.
TRIPLE OPTION DEFENSE
Since 2001, Rutgers has gone 12-2 against teams that feature the triple option. The Scarlet Knights have held those opponents to an average of 46.4 yards below their season average.
SACKED TOO MUCH
Army has 15 sacks for 69 lost yards this season and should be salivating because Rutgers has allowed 25 sacks for 207 lost yards. The Scarlet Knights have a season-high 24 players listed on the initial injury report, including five offensive linemen.
“We just have to do a better job protecting,” left tackle Keith Lumpkin said. “It’s the details. We just have to … get our things corrected.”
Rutgers is trying to make a bowl for the 10th time in 11 years and fourth straight under Flood.
Army thrives on the run, averaging 253.3 yards per game and nearly 5 yards per carry, and so does Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are the only Big Ten team with two backs with at least 600 rushing yards this season — Josh Hicks (613) and Robert Martin (622). The trio of Hicks, Martin and Paul James is averaging 5.45 yards per carry.
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