Well Army fans, it’s one of those “hurry up and wait” weeks. The battered Black Knights get a week off to rest up before heading to the Aloha State to take on Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors. For a season that has so far drastically missed the mark in terms of preseason expectations, there are still some respectable outcomes left on the table.
First and foremost, the Black Knights still have a chance at a winning season - which would be their fourth straight winning season under head coach Jeff Monken. Second, Army can still beat Navy and thus retain the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy (although not technically “win” it). And finally, there is still a slim possibility that the Black Knights get a bowl invitation in the event they win out against Hawaii and Navy. A 7-6 season, beat Navy, and bowl game? That’s not bad for a service academy, and frankly that’s better than Army’s experienced in a long, long time (the past three seasons excluded of course).
Looking ahead to Hawaii, the Black Knights will be facing a similar pass-happy attack to the one they saw against VMI; however, the Rainbow Warriors are much more effective and have the talent to pick apart Army’s secondary. One saving grace is that Hawaii faces a tough Mountain West opponent in San Diego State this weekend, and will not have the advantage of an extra week to prepare for Army’s option offense. As long as the Black Knights can bring consistent pressure against Hawaii’s QB, and Army defensive backs keep eyes to the ball, they should be in good shape. We’ll be sure to dig into the details and stats in next week’s preview.
There are a couple of things, good and bad, that are worth highlighting for Army this week. So as to end on a positive note, I’ll start with the bad. QB Jabari Laws went down against VMI with a very gruesome non-contact knee injury - likely an ACL or other ligament tear. Fortunately, Kelvin Hopkins jumped into the game, and seemed to quickly return to form. Third-stringer Christian Anderson saw some action as well, but losing Laws is truly unfortunate considering his recent success and development as Army’s main QB with Hopkins injured.
On the positive side, Army’s offensive performance these past two weeks have thrust them into first place in total rushing offense in the nation with 3,329 yards, barely edging out Navy. The Black Knights also come in as the #20 scoring defense, the highest ranked service academy in the category (Air Force - T-#28, Navy - #34). That’s definitely some positive trending prior to two very tough games to close out the season.
If you don’t have anything better to do this weekend, check up on the other service academies in action - Navy against SMU, and Air Force taking on Wyoming.