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Preview, How to Watch: Army hosts Louisiana Monroe

Will the Black Knights’ performance in its season-opener carry over to game two?

Middle Tennessee State v Army Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

After their largest shutout win in more than 50 years, Army moves on to face Lousiana-Monroe Saturday afternoon at Michie Stadium.

Like many other NCAA programs working through the pandemic to salvage fall football, the Warhawks are coming into the match-up following delayed practices from COVID-19. But they’ve also had to deal with Hurricane Laura and the recent resignation of their defensive coordinator, Mike Collins. But that doesn’t diminish the quality of competitiveness they will bring to the Black Knights.

“They’re very imaginative, they spread the ball around, and they’ve got a number of running backs that I think are very talented and good players just overall,” Army Head Coach Jeff Monken said earlier this week.

And one of those running backs is Josh Johnson.

A hamstring injury kept the redshirt senior on the bench during the summer, but he’s in for Saturday and will definitely keep this newly-formed Army defense on its toes this weekend. Johnson ranked second in the Sun Belt and 13th in FBS in rushing in 2019, averaging 108.2 yards per game. In 2019, he ran for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Warhawks have proven to have an explosive offense, even though it didn’t show in their final 5-7 record. In 2019, ULM was 17th in total offense, averaging 461.1 yards per-game.

Back then, they had quarterback Caleb Evans who led their offense for three seasons and ranked in the top 10 of the school’s history of all-time in completion percentage, passing yards and passing attempts. He’s moved on, and the Warhawks are looking to fill that slot.

In facing MTSU’s Asher O’ Hara last week, the Black Knights were able to bottle up a quarterback who has the ability to make plays with his arm and legs. It’s still unclear what kind of quarterback ULM will present.

During their preseason scrimmage, ULM played five quarterbacks, two of which, Colby Suits, and Jeremy Hunt, both completed more than half their passing attempts. Suits is expected to start against Army, but we could see Hunt too, a JUCO transfer from Central Missouri. Rapidly shuffling them could be a plus — or it could prevent ULM themselves from finding a groove. The Warhawks are also deep at receiver.

“I don’t know if them [ULM] using a lot of people creates preparation issues but having that kind of depth is certainly advantageous. I don’t know that we can rotate three and four people at each position here,” Monken said. “And that’s no knock on our guys that are the third and fourth string guys, but I think that the starters are starters for a reason.”

On defense, the team is touting a veteran secondary and talented newcomers, including two graduate transfers in Garrett Hirsh and Tyler Johnson, from Illinois State and Tulane, respectively. Considering ULM’s traditional 4-2-5 scheme, they’ll likely be forced to be more agile in the open space and utilize their safeties to react quickly to the option. We might see a bit more pressure on Army QB Christian Anderson to make some pass plays to keep the Warhawks on their toes, but that could also be concerning, considering he completed just 2-of-4 attempts last week. We’re still not really sure how good of a passer Anderson is.

“I’m sure they’ll be ready,” said Monken “Matt [Viator] is a veteran coach and knows his team... I think sometimes when you get a little break, it’s sometimes a blessing in disguise — you get guys a little bit healthy, you have a tendency to get banged up in preseason camp and I’m sure that he would’ve like to practice but they’ve got a pretty fresh and healthy team as well.”

How To Watch

  • Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. EST on Saturday
  • Where: Michie Stadium — West Point, New York
  • Watch: CBS Sports Network | Ben Holden and Ross Tucker will have the call while Tina Cervasio reports from the sideline.
  • Spread: Most sports-books have Army favored by anywhere from 18 to 21.5 points.