Army faces key game at home with North Texas

Black Knights go into con­test as na­tion’s top rush­ing team

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By John Kekis AP Sports Writer

The Black Knights bring a 4-2 record and the na­tion’s No. 1 rush­ing of­fense into to­day's game.

The sud­den death of a budding star and two straight losses tem­po­rar­ily halted Army’s fast start to the sea­son. Count coach Jeff Monken among those who have mar­veled at the re­solve of the Black Knights.

“I’ve re­ally been im­pressed with this team and their abil­ity to con­tinue to fo­cus through ev­ery­thing that we have been through this year,” Monken said as he pre­pared for Satur­day’s home game against North Texas. “I think they’ve han­dled the wave of emo­tions that comes with win­ning and los­ing, and I sense in our team that there’s not a sat­is­fac­tion like they ac­com­plished what they wanted to this year.”

With a lit­tle luck, Army (4-2) could be un­beaten and al­ready qual­i­fied to play in a bowl game. The Black Knights started the sea­son with three straight wins, then blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quar­ter and dropped an over­time game at Buf­falo that was there for the tak­ing in reg­u­la­tion. That set­back came two weeks af­ter de­fen­sive back Bran­don Jack­son was killed in a one-car ac­ci­dent in the hours af­ter a vic­tory over Rice at Michie Sta­dium. Then came a 13-6 loss at Duke played in a driv­ing rain as Hur­ri­cane Matthew buf­feted the East Coast.

Last week, Army re­bounded with an em­phatic 62-7 vic­tory over FCS foe Lafayette, a nice re­set with the im­pos­ing sec­ond half of the sea­son loom­ing. Air Force, Wake For­est, Notre Dame and Navy still re­main af­ter Satur­day’s game against North Texas (3-3) of Con­fer­ence USA.

Army’s triple op­tion chews up yards and time. For teams that rarely play against that type of of­fense, it’s nor­mally a real test. At least North Texas head coach Seth Lit­trell has had some ex­tra time to pre­pare for the na­tion’s top run­ning team. The Mean Green is com­ing off a bye week.

“The chal­lenges are you don’t see them much,” said Lit­trell, in his first sea­son at North Texas. “See­ing all the dif­fer­ent reads, you have to be ex­tremely dis­ci­plined. You have to have your eyes in the right spot. If you’re not care­ful, peo­ple will be run­ning wide open.”

This will be the fifth all-time meet­ing be­tween Army and North Texas, and the Mean Green has yet to win one. Map­ping out a plan on pa­per to suc­ceed is easy. Ex­e­cut­ing it is an­other mat­ter.

“You’re go­ing to have to be phys­i­cal, no doubt, and you’re go­ing to have to stay pa­tient ... and not get frus­trated,” Lit­trell said. “It’s cru­cial that you stay on the field when you’ve got the op­por­tu­nity to score.” Other things to know when Army hosts North Texas to­day at Michie Sta­dium:

NO. 1 AGAIN IN THE RUN

Army has re­gained its spot as the top rush­ing team in the na­tion. The Black Knights had 537 yards rush­ing against Lafayette and now are av­er­ag­ing 366.5 yards per game and 5.9 per carry. The North Texas de­fense is al­low­ing

4.7 yards per carry.

RUN TO VIC­TORY

Tail­back Jeffrey Wil­son has been a key cog for North Texas. In the team’s three wins, Wil­son has av­er­aged 142.7 rush­ing yards and the team has rushed for an av­er­age of 265.3. In the Mean Green’s three losses, Wil­son has av­er­aged 44.3 and the team 31.3.

SACK CREW

Army has 15 sacks this sea­son, and they’ve been nicely spread around. Alex Auk­er­man, An­drew King and Ken­neth Brin­son share the team lead with four apiece.

Auk­er­man, a hy­brid de­fender

who can line up at ei­ther line­backer or end, has 8.5 tack­les for loss and his 1.4 per game ranks 22nd in the coun­try.

DE­FENSE RULES

The Army de­fense is al­low­ing only 14 points per game to rank fourth in the na­tion. The Black Knights also rank sec­ond in to­tal de­fense, al­low­ing an av­er­age of 245.2 yards per game, and sec­ond against the run, al­low­ing just 99 yards per game on the ground. “We’ve got to do a good job of mak­ing com­pet­i­tive plays in the run game,” Lit­trell said. “We’ve got to get off the ball. Our run­ning backs are go­ing to have to break tack­les.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Army quar­ter­back Chris Carter gets off a pass as he is hit by Duke line­backer Ben Humphreys dur­ing the Black Knights’ 13-6 loss in Durham, N.C., on Oct. 8.

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