West Point (CBS New York)- The Army West Point Black Knights enter 2019 coming off a season in which they posted the highest win total in school history with 11, including a 70-14 blowout of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The offense, as you can likely tell from that point total in the bowl game, was prolific. The triple-option attack averaged over 300 yards per game on the ground with a 1,000-yard rusher (QB Kelvin Hopkins), near 1,000-yard guy (FB Darnell Woolfolk 956 yards) and four guys who tallied over 300 yards on the ground (slot backs Connor Slomka, Kell Walker, Andy Davidson and Cam Thomas).
In addition to the clock-killing, death by a thousand cuts triple-option dominance, the Black Knights were ruthlessly efficient on fourth downs converting 31 of 36 (86%) fourth down attempts last season. For as good as the offense was, the defense might have been better.
“They were so good on the defensive side of the ball and a lot of the offense with Kelvin Hopkins kind of stole the thunder with everything that they did on that side of the ball. That defense was key against Oklahoma in getting three-and-outs,” said CBS Sports college football analyst Randy Cross.
The Oklahoma game, a 28-21 loss in which the Sooners were on the ropes throughout, was the shining example nationally of what the Black Knights were capable of doing under defensive coordinator Jay Bateman. Now, he is in North Carolina having taken the same position with Mack Brown’s new Tar Heels staff. But, Cross doesn’t expect there to be much of a fall-off on the defensive side of the ball. Plus, with Hopkins and several other key offensive pieces back, the Army attack could once again keep the ball away from opponents for long portions of the game.
The opportunity for another big upset is there as Army will travel to the Big House in Ann Arbor to face Jim Harbaugh and the Big Ten preseason favorite Michigan Wolverines on September 7th. Like with the game against the Sooners last year, the defense will need to generate a few stops to hand the ball over to the ball-control offense and allow them to go to work.
“That is the kind of formula that they are going to need when they go to Michigan in Week 2,” said Cross. “That is the big spot on their schedule until that last game against Navy.”
After the Michigan game, the schedule lays out favorably which is why Cross expects the Cadets to once again post a big number in the win column.
“Realistically looking at Army’s schedule they could be, before Navy, 10-1 because of a loss to Michigan. The way that their schedule falls, they are that good,” said Cross. “I would anticipate another double-digit win season.”
8/30 (Friday) vs. Rice
9/7 @ Michigan
9/14 @ UT-San Antonio
9/21 vs. Morgan State
10/5 vs. Tulane
10/12 @ Western Kentucky
10/19 @ Georgia State
10/26 vs. San Jose State
11/2 @ Air Force
11/9 vs. UMass
11/16 vs. Virginia Military Institute
12/1 @ Hawai’i
12/14 vs. Navy