Army at Oklahoma
Army is coming off an impressive 28-21 home win against a tough Hawaii team. Head Coach Jeff Monken opened his press conference singing praises about Hawaii’s high-powered offense stating they “were just dynamite.” Monken also said the Rainbow Warriors’ defense does not get nearly enough credit, but their tough and physical style of play made for quite the match-up against Army’s triple option offense. Monken said he was proud of his team, and said it was the best they have looked so far this season. The victory was undoubtedly one of the most impressive for the program in recent memory.
The Black Knights start a three game road trip this week in epic fashion with a match-up at No. 5 ranked Oklahoma at their Memorial Stadium in Norman. The Sooners average around 86,000 fans a game — nearly two and a half times the size of the home crowds Army is used to seeing in Michie Stadium.
Monken spent most of the press conference talking about how good Oklahoma is through all three phases of the game and how they have their best players on the field at all times, citing five defensive starters who are regulars on the punt coverage team. He also addressed how the Sooners have sustained their level of success because they have a system that works. Monken also took time to point out how Oklahoma has scored at least 30 points in their last seven match-ups, across this season and last, also noting the one game where they failed to reach that mark, Oklahoma scored 29 points.
The head coach is pleased with the development of his young quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, pointing out how he has improved over each game this season.
Monken also discussed the advantage the Black Knights take with them this weekend, in that Oklahoma has very little experience defending against an option attack.
“I think it’s unique for anybody who doesn’t face (the triple option regularly). I’ve said that for our own defense when we play an option team how difficult it is to transition back from playing defense against whatever you’d call a traditional offense,” Monken said. “Having to play one of the academy rival games makes it a real challenge. That’s maybe one advantage that we have: having an offense that they haven’t seen.”
However he was also quick to quote his former head coach Paul Johnson stating “physical superiority cancels all theory” meaning even if Army plays a perfect game, it will still be difficult to come out with a win against a team as talented as Oklahoma. You can catch the action on Saturday at 1900 EST on Pay-Per-View. You read that correctly — learn more about that here. It’s also on AFN if you’re overseas.
Navy at SMU
Navy played a solid game against Lehigh last week, but headman Ken Niumatalolo thinks his team has a long way to go. The Mids travel to Texas this week for their second AAC West match-up of the season against Southern Methodist University.
Niumatalolo talked about switching up the practice schedules and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Following the loss at Hawaii, Navy’s equipment was delayed in its return to Annapolis. This resulted in practicing without pads during the week, which the head coach believes resulted in a fresher team against AAC West foe, Memphis, a tough match-up, but the Mids won 22-21. They did the same thing last week in preparation for FCS opponent Lehigh, and the Mids again emerged victorious. The Mids were once again pad-less on Tuesday as they prepared for their second AAC West match-up of the season at SMU.
Texas is big time recruiting territory for Navy — the roster on NavySports.com lists 19 players who hail from the Lone Star State. As a result, Navy is sending coaches out early this week to start recruiting through out the area, and they won’t be limiting themselves to just Dallas. Niumatalolo cited the fact that recruits will be back home at least twice as players which definitely helps as a selling point for the program.
Specific Players Highlighted
Ford Higgins is versatile player who played at center against Memphis and tackle against Lehigh. He was awarded player of the game both contests. Niumatalolo said if the rest of the O-Line played at the same pace as him, Navy will be in great shape on offense.
Malcolm Perry has three 200-yard rushing games in six starts at QB. Niumatalolo loves Perry’s ability as a runner, but said he would like to see improvement in his abilities as a passer.
CJ Williams is apparently hard to block for because he is so quick and shifty. When asked if Williams needed to learn to follow his blockers Niumatalolo responded, “You don’t tell good runners where to run. You let them play their way.” He added that coaches may make general recommendations about stretching out a run or how to find open lanes, but you don’t want to get too much in the weeds. Slotbacks coach Joe Dupaix said of Williams: “He has been earning more time due to his hard work on and off the field which shows his character.” Dupaix also added Williams has “great hands and toughness to play the position. He’s not afraid to make contact.”
Elan Nash was excited about his first pick, but was all about giving credit to his teammate Josh Webb who tipped the ball creating the opportunity. Nash stated the best part of the Lehigh game was everyone getting a chance to showcase their skills, demonstrating the depth on Navy’s defense.
Air Force at Utah State
Air Force had a bye week after falling to FAU in week 2. The Falcons made a late surge in the second half, but fell to the Owls 33-27.
Troy Calhoun said the Falcons wanted to play tough in practice with this week’s extra time since their last match-up, but they needed to balance that out with some off-field preparation as well. He wants his team to focus on consistency, while also pointing out how that can be a moving target, which takes constant adjustments. He specifically cited sustaining offensive drives with first downs, and solid tackling on the other side of the ball.
Specific Players Highlighted
Kadin Remsberg has improved his strength and movement; Calhoun believes he has also been developing his ability to run with power.
Christian Mallard has been bulking up in the weight room and added what Calhoun called “good weight.”
Calhoun also stated he is comfortable with his two quarterback situation for the time being, and expects both Arion Northman and Isaiah Sanders to play this weekend.
As for their opponent this week, Calhoun believes his team will face as good a Utah State team as they have met in that program’s time in the Mountain West Conference. He specifically cited how tough their defense has been and the nine turnovers they have forced so far this season. Calhoun is also worried about the offense, which is averaging 200 yards on the ground a game, with a running back who is averaging 10 yards per carry. The Aggies are also averaging 55 points a game. Calhoun talked about Aggies QB Jordan Love and how the poise he demonstrates is his most impressive quality as a signal caller, in addition to his decisiveness when throwing the ball.
Calhoun also spent a good deal of time talking about the pace-of-play rules in college football.
Said Calhoun, per the Colorado Springs Gazette: “I think it’s fantastic for the sport to be able to go at any pace. It doesn’t mean everybody’s going to use it… I think the diversity it brings to the game is fantastic.”