Army looks to upset 8th-ranked Ohio State
Unbeaten, improved Black Knights set to face No.8 Buckeyes’ squad coming off smoking loss to Oklahoma
COLUMBUS, OHIO » Ohio State players likely will be a little cranky when Army visits for the first time on Saturday afternoon. The No. 8 Buckeyes were smoked by Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma at Ohio Stadium last week and will be looking for an outlet for their frustration.
Not to say Army (2-0) isn’t capable of giving the Buckeyes (11, 1-0 Big Ten) some headaches. It has been one of the most improved teams in the nation under coach Jeff Monken, who was rewarded with a multi-year contract extension on Thursday.
“Everyone is saying we’re going to get our butts whipped,” said Monken, who led the Black Knights to an 8-5 record last year and the first win over Navy in 15 years. “I’m not walking in here telling the guys to start preparing for (the following game against) Tulane because we’re going to get our butts whipped.
“That’s not the way we’re wired. We’ve got to look at their team and find the things we can do to be successful.”
Army runs a confounding tri-
ple-option attack centered on quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who is averaging 162 yards rushing after two games to rank sixth nationally, and 9.5 yards per carry with three TDs.
He has seven 100-yard games in his career.
Unfortunately for the Black Knights, the Ohio State defensive line specializes in stuffing the run. The Buckeyes defense is No. 13 nationally, allowing just 60.5 rushing yards per game.
It has allowed just one rushing touchdown.
“There’s just some times where you are going to face people who are going to do a good job defending you,” Monken said. “We’re going to play a team this weekend that is going to be really good at playing blocks and at running people down.”
Keep it on the Ground
Don’t expect to see an aerial show from Army, the worst passing team in the nation.
The Black Knights attempted just 10 passes in the first two games, completing two of them. They averaged less than five completions per game for all of last year, with Bradshaw completing 40 of 91 attempts.
On the other side of the coin, the Black Knights rank second nationally in rushing with an average of 417.5 yards per game after home victories over Fordham and Buffalo.
Bradshaw and fullback Darnell Woolfolk are a tough 1-2 punch in a scheme designed to keep defenses guessing.
Buckeyes’ Offensive Problems Persist
Ohio State’s passing game is being plagued by the same problems that tripped it up against better defenses last season: Quarterback J. T. Barrett’s lack of accuracy and receivers unable to get separation, not to mention some suspect play-calling.
Barrett missed receivers just about every way possible last week, overthrowing them and chucking the ball at their feet. At least two passes were dropped.
A new offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, and a whole offseason didn’t seem to produce improvement, so the question is not a new one: Can Barrett get better or has he reached his peak?
Social media is abuzz with calls to replace Barrett with Dwayne Haskins, the current No. 2 quarterback while Joe Burrow recovers from a broken hand. But coach Urban Meyer said that’s not going to happen.
Wilson, who calls the offensive plays, took much of the blame for debacle this week.
“I was awful Saturday,” Wilson acknowledged. “At the end of the day, I think I just got to do a better job of piecing it together, anticipating and some practice things to get us in rhythm and what we’re going to emphasize and gain some confidence and gain some momentum and efficiency as an offense, instead of being all over the place.”
Ohio State is still stinging from the thumping by Oklahoma at home last week and trying to solve some problems with its passing game and defense. Army is much improved under coach Jeff Monken and even came from behind to beat Buffalo last week, but the Black Knights will have trouble being competitive with the Buckeyes. Keeping the score close would be a moral victory. After the humiliation of last week, Ohio State can use a solid, feel-good home win. Key Matchup Army’s triple-option against the Ohio State defense. The Black Knights are the worst passing team in the nation but rank second nationally in rushing with an average of 417.5 yards per game after home victories over Fordham and Buffalo. Senior QB Ahmad Bradshaw and fullback Darnell Woolfolk are a tough 1-2 punch and difficult to contain. With one of the best defensive lines in the nation, the Buckeyes specialize in stuffing the run. Players To Watch Army: Bradshaw is operating at a high level, averaging 162 yards per game to rank sixth nationally, and 9.5 per carry with three TDs. He has seven 100-yard games in his career. Ohio State: RB J.K. Dobbins ran for 181 yards in week one and another 72 yards last week splitting time with Mike Weber. The true freshman is special, possessing slick moves and breakaway speed. Weber’s hamstring continued to bother him last week and he’s still not 100 percent.
Army has not defeated a ranked team since a 17-14 win over No. 15 Air Force on Nov. 4, 1972 . ... The Black Knights have attempted just 10 passes in the first two games and completed two . ... The Ohio State defense is allowing just 60.5 rushing yards per game and has allowed just one touchdown on the ground. ... Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett needs 670 passing yards to become the school’s all-time leader . ... Ohio State WR Austin Mack is probable after suffering an apparent concussion last week against Oklahoma. His head banged off the turf when he came down with a sideline catch.
Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, center, drops back from the line of scrimmage in the first half against Navy last season. Army runs a confounding triple-option attack centered on Bradshaw, who is averaging 162 yards after two games to rank sixth nationally, and 9.5 yards per carry with three TDs.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett runs during the second half of game against Indiana.