Army in rush to show off run game

Spar­tans, ranked No. 58 in na­tion vs. the run, must be dis­ci­plined

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Vic­tor Aquino Cor­re­spon­dent

The 0-5 San Jose State Spar­tans head 10 miles north for a home game against Army (3-2) at Levi’s Sta­dium on Satur­day (12:30 p.m.).

In the first meet­ing be­tween the schools, Army makes no se­crets about its game plan — to fully de­ploy its third-ranked run of­fense (308 yards per game) on the Spar­tans’ 58th ranked run de­fense (150.8 yards given up per game).

Black Knights coach Jeff Monken’s sys­tem and tough-love style are be­fit­ting the Army creed. Against then-top-10 ranked Ok­la­homa, Army took the Soon­ers to the brink in a 2821 loss. The Black Knights also handed Hawaii its only de­feat.

The Army theme, more specif­i­cally: triple run op­tion = ex­treme ball con­trol = time of pos­ses­sion. And once in a while pop in a long pass play to help un­clog the box.

In fact, the Black Knights’ pass­ing game is al­most nonex­is­tent by choice, only reg­is­ter­ing 110.2 pass­ing yards per game and 551 to­tal pass­ing yards, which is 125th in the FBS. Com­pared to San Jose State’s sur­pris­ing 24thranked pass­ing of­fense, the Spar­tans nearly triple Army’s pass­ing out­put.

But like any team fac­ing Army, it’s all about slow­ing the run. In con­trast, San Jose State’s run game is ranked dead last in the FBS.

“We have to be in­cred­i­bly dis­ci­plined with our scheme and play our tails off.” stressed Spar­tans coach Brent Bren­nan. ”I wouldn’t say that’s any dif­fer­ent than any other week, but you gotta be sound and play hard. In what they do with their move­ment and mo­tions and their abil­ity to run the foot­ball com­bined with the added el­e­ment of throw­ing well, you gotta be re­ally dis­ci­plined with your eyes.”

“In­cred­i­bly dis­ci­plined” means the Spar­tans de­fense must read not only the run op­tion, but its own de­fen­sive move­ments. The de­fen­sive line cov­ers the dives, lineback­ers or low safeties han­dle the in­side and out­side of the quar­ter­back and an ac­tive free safety cov­ers the edge for the pitch. All while keep­ing “dis­ci­plined eyes” for a pass play, fake pitch or keep.

The Spar­tans have also shown the means to beat al­most any­one. The loss to Hawaii was the epit­ome of a thrilling col­lege game. The 30-point third quar­ter against Colorado State was one for the ages. San

Jose State just hasn’t been able to string enough plays and mo­men­tum for an en­tire game.

How do the Spar­tans keep mo­men­tum once they find it?

“We need to learn to ex­e­cute; find a way to get a first down and burn some clock to con­tinue that mo­men­tum.” said Bren­nan. “And it comes down to a com­bi­na­tion of mak­ing sure we put our kids in the right sit­u­a­tion to make plays and with the plays that are called to ex­e­cute at a high level.”

If the Spar­tans fall to Army, it will be 0-6 — their worst start since 2001. And with first-place San Diego State next up, San Jose State could face even more doom and gloom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.