Army-West Virginia (Liberty Bowl) Prediction Thread

BlackKnightStrong

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Tough - Physical game for sure. I truly believe that our defense will remain steadfast throughout the game.

Army 17
West Virginia 14
 
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TheNewBlackKnights09

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I agree, this is going to be another tight game. I will admit, WV has some very explosive athletes and if we don't put pressure on their QB, it could be a long day. So I hope Coach Woody comes up with a defensive scheme that addresses that challenge for us. Of course, if our offense is on point, then that becomes our best defense.

Army 14
WV 13
 

Ireland Buck

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I like the rest Army is getting. This will be a tough game of course but feel Army is on a mission. Some serious MO is behind this program now. Army runs right at WV and wears them down late 4th Q.
Army 24
WV. 17
 

RabbleNumberOneFan

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I have done a little research into WV 's team. Looks to me like their defense against the run is very stout and it will be stouter than normal if Army O poses no passing threat. Seems to me that we will not be able to play the risk averse game ( a la Navy and AF) against these guys. If we are to move the ball and stay in this one , we are going to have to play actual triple option and air a few out . Take some chances! Depends to large extent on our O Line and the coaches having faith in one of the QBs to run the option, but even then the WV D seems to have the edge with two stalwarts ( brothers ) in the middle and lots of lateral speed to cover the edge. What about out D? Well our D is excellent against the run , but we will recall it had some issues with the Tulane QB's pin point passing in H2 of that game. Well this WV QB sports an extremely accurate arm . He can pick your defense apart using his very fast WRs. Similar to Tulane , but better. IMO this WV offense will provide our D all it can handle -- if McDuffie is back at F CB that would help , but I think he is one of the 25 players said by JM to be out for the season. I can see why Vegas Books make WV a 7 point favorite, but I think Army still wins this game 3 or 4 times out of 10 played and this could easily be one of the 3 or 4 . They will have to score early and not fall behind this very fast team whose losses to the likes of Iowa State, Okie State and Texas were on the road and close except for Iowa State . Go Army -- get it done! 26-24 Army.
 
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BigMatt60

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West Virginia is a very difficult match-up for Army. Army will have to play an inspired, mistake-free game to win. WV is favored by 7.5 points.

They run and pass the ball about the same number of times; however, they make 65% of their yards through the air. They pass about 40 times a game. WV also has a 1000-yard rusher – a tough team to defend.

We have not moved the ball on the ground consistently this year against any good defense and have had some problems with poor defenses (Navy, Citadel). Teams simply put 9 men in the box and dare us to implement a Plan “B”- passing and outside option runs. Our basic problem is that we do not have the players to implement a Plan B.

Army’s only edge is a well led, determined, gritty, well-coached team that refuses to lose. Hopefully, our players will want this win more than WV.

An Army win will depend on the defense keeping WV to 14 points or under. IF, IF our team is healthy, (particularly at the FB position) our offense will probably score at most 2 TDS if we are able to execute some less conservative plays. We need for our defense to score at least once on an interception or fumble return.

My heart and loyalty say that the Army spirit will lead to a victory. However, my logic says that Army will fight hard and make us proud but -----Sorry, I hope I am wrong.

Army 10

WV 24
 

johngriffis7

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I agree that Army must play excellent defense in order to win this game. We also need to win the turnover battle and protect the ball when we have it. Our offense has shown the ability to possess the ball on long drives and we must do that also to win.

Army has had inspired performances in the past three bowl games we have played. I am hopeful we will have an emotional edge in preparation after the experience of losing the Independence Bowl.

Army 24
WV 17
 

LastofftheArea78

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Like everyone else, West Virginia will prove a challenge for the Black Knights next week. Looking at their season averages, they run a very balance offense (331 rushing attempts for 1,309 yards and 15 TDs; 230-359-3-2,495 passing with 13 TDs); have only nine turnovers; and the Mountaineers defense is holding teams to 126 yards rushing, 171 yards passing, and 20.4 points per game. Their offense has scored 22 TDs and 10 FGs in 26 trips to the red zone; holding opponents to 9 TDs and 5 FGs in 17 red zone trips. They have converted 41% of their third downs and stopped opponents 60% of the time. A pretty good record for their second year head coach and a rather young, fast, athletic football team.

Now for the rest of the story. WVU is 5-4, opening with Eastern Kentucky and then splitting with eight of theirs nine Big 12 opponents. The game with Oklahoma was first cancelled by the Sooners Thanksgiving weekend, then the Mountaineers had Covid issues and canceled the 12/12 rescheduled game. The Mountaineers went 5-0 at home against 3-6 EKU, 2-7 Baylor (two overtimes), 0-9 Kansas, 4-6 Kansas State, and 6-4 TCU. WVU lost all four games on the road, against 7-3 Oklahoma State, 4-6 Texas Tech, 6-3 Texas, and 8-3 Iowa State. They lost to the Longhorns 13-17. The Mountaineers lost all four games they were losing at halftime, and won all that they were ahead or tied at the break.

Of WVU's 69 offensive possessions (excluding the EKU, KU, and KSU games), they scored on 30% (19 TDs and 5 FGs), and punted 48% of time [compared to Army's 37% (24 TDs/ 5 FGs) and 38% punting against FBS foes]. West Virginia opened most of their Big 12 games with a balanced attack; but once they were behind, they tended to pass and pass. They do tend to run on first and second downs, and pass on third down. 61% of the Mountaineers possessions were six plays or less and only ten possessions were more than ten plays. While they have averaged 145 rushing yards per game; they only exceeded that against EKU (329), KU (226), KSU (184), and TCU (180). OSU, Texas Tech, Texas, and ISU held them under 91 yards rushing. Their strength is a passing attack, averaging 277 yards a game, with over 300 against KU, TT, KSU, and Texas. WVU's best game of the season was the 24-6 thumping of the Horned Frogs. 54% of the rushing attempts have been made by Leddie Brown who is averaging 111 yards a game. Alec Sinkfield has 78 attempts and 362 rushing yards. Quarterback Jarret Doerge is 224-349-3-2,428 with all the TD passes. in all of the Mountaineer losses, the opponent has shut down their running game (64 yard average) and limited the effect of a good passing attack.

On paper, the Mountaineer defense is very good. Opponents have only scored 19 TDs and 5 FGs on 69 possessions (35%) and they have held 61% of these to less than six plays. In three of their losses, opponents had halftime leads of 20-7, 20-13, and 21-0. Only at Texas, losing 7-10 at halftime, did WVU play well in the second half, holding the Longhorns to one TD (but West Virginia was only able to make two field goals). WVU's leading tackler (88) Tony Fields has opted out of the Liberty Bowl game. There are two other defenders each with 61, and another pair each have 51 tackles. Arizona three year transfer safety Young, with 150 tackles, has played the year on the scout team, and the NCAA has approved his participation in the bowl game. But it has been a year since Young has been in a game. The WVU defense has intercepted twelve passes and recovered two of ten fumbles. None of the Big 12 opponents are run heavy, but three out of five teams averaging 160 yards or more increased their rushing yards above their average in games against the Mountaineers (OSU 203, TT 179, ISU 236) with Texas and TCU being held 4 and 81 yards below their average. TCU got behind 14-3 at the half and gave up on its rushing attack that averages 215 yards a game. WVU should have beaten Texas. The WVU defense has only seen four opposing possessions of ten or more plays.

In conclusion, the Mountaineers do not play well on the road and from behind, as they shift to more passing and become less and less effective. The WVU defense has done best against passing oriented attacks; but against more rushing offenses, tends to fail. The Mountaineer offense is only effective when they have a balanced attack.

Army 21, West Virginia 14
 

BigMatt60

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Like everyone else, West Virginia will prove a challenge for the Black Knights next week. Looking at their season averages, they run a very balance offense (331 rushing attempts for 1,309 yards and 15 TDs; 230-359-3-2,495 passing with 13 TDs); have only nine turnovers; and the Mountaineers defense is holding teams to 126 yards rushing, 171 yards passing, and 20.4 points per game. Their offense has scored 22 TDs and 10 FGs in 26 trips to the red zone; holding opponents to 9 TDs and 5 FGs in 17 red zone trips. They have converted 41% of their third downs and stopped opponents 60% of the time. A pretty good record for their second year head coach and a rather young, fast, athletic football team.

Now for the rest of the story. WVU is 5-4, opening with Eastern Kentucky and then splitting with eight of theirs nine Big 12 opponents. The game with Oklahoma was first cancelled by the Sooners Thanksgiving weekend, then the Mountaineers had Covid issues and canceled the 12/12 rescheduled game. The Mountaineers went 5-0 at home against 3-6 EKU, 2-7 Baylor (two overtimes), 0-9 Kansas, 4-6 Kansas State, and 6-4 TCU. WVU lost all four games on the road, against 7-3 Oklahoma State, 4-6 Texas Tech, 6-3 Texas, and 8-3 Iowa State. They lost to the Longhorns 13-17. The Mountaineers lost all four games they were losing at halftime, and won all that they were ahead or tied at the break.

Of WVU's 69 offensive possessions (excluding the EKU, KU, and KSU games), they scored on 30% (19 TDs and 5 FGs), and punted 48% of time [compared to Army's 37% (24 TDs/ 5 FGs) and 38% punting against FBS foes]. West Virginia opened most of their Big 12 games with a balanced attack; but once they were behind, they tended to pass and pass. They do tend to run on first and second downs, and pass on third down. 61% of the Mountaineers possessions were six plays or less and only ten possessions were more than ten plays. While they have averaged 145 rushing yards per game; they only exceeded that against EKU (329), KU (226), KSU (184), and TCU (180). OSU, Texas Tech, Texas, and ISU held them under 91 yards rushing. Their strength is a passing attack, averaging 277 yards a game, with over 300 against KU, TT, KSU, and Texas. WVU's best game of the season was the 24-6 thumping of the Horned Frogs. 54% of the rushing attempts have been made by Leddie Brown who is averaging 111 yards a game. Alec Sinkfield has 78 attempts and 362 rushing yards. Quarterback Jarret Doerge is 224-349-3-2,428 with all the TD passes. in all of the Mountaineer losses, the opponent has shut down their running game (64 yard average) and limited the effect of a good passing attack.

On paper, the Mountaineer defense is very good. Opponents have only scored 19 TDs and 5 FGs on 69 possessions (35%) and they have held 61% of these to less than six plays. In three of their losses, opponents had halftime leads of 20-7, 20-13, and 21-0. Only at Texas, losing 7-10 at halftime, did WVU play well in the second half, holding the Longhorns to one TD (but West Virginia was only able to make two field goals). WVU's leading tackler (88) Tony Fields has opted out of the Liberty Bowl game. There are two other defenders each with 61, and another pair each have 51 tackles. Arizona three year transfer safety Young, with 150 tackles, has played the year on the scout team, and the NCAA has approved his participation in the bowl game. But it has been a year since Young has been in a game. The WVU defense has intercepted twelve passes and recovered two of ten fumbles. None of the Big 12 opponents are run heavy, but three out of five teams averaging 160 yards or more increased their rushing yards above their average in games against the Mountaineers (OSU 203, TT 179, ISU 236) with Texas and TCU being held 4 and 81 yards below their average. TCU got behind 14-3 at the half and gave up on its rushing attack that averages 215 yards a game. WVU should have beaten Texas. The WVU defense has only seen four opposing possessions of ten or more plays.

In conclusion, the Mountaineers do not play well on the road and from behind, as they shift to more passing and become less and less effective. The WVU defense has done best against passing oriented attacks; but against more rushing offenses, tends to fail. The Mountaineer offense is only effective when they have a balanced attack.

Army 21, West Virginia 14
Great research - thanks
 

ajfitz1993

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It’s going to be a close game for sure. But WV never played triple option in a long time. The guys were really happy to hear about going to a bowl game. They aren’t going to come up not showing up. Army is going to come in bringing their A game.

Army 21
UWV 17
 

BigMatt60

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It’s going to be a close game for sure. But WV never played triple option in a long time. The guys were really happy to hear about going to a bowl game. They aren’t going to come up not showing up. Army is going to come in bringing their A game.

Army 21
UWV 17
Army has not run the triple option in the past few games.
 
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BigMatt60

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Wild prediction - Anderson will start at QB. We will not be able to move the ball effectively on the WV defense on our first 3-4 series - Army will resort to passing and get intercepted - WV will build a 2 TD lead - Ballard will play most of the second half throwing at least 10-15 passes in an attempt to regain the lead. We will make a great effort but fall just short.
I hope I am completely wrong!
 

DocJayy

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Wild prediction - Anderson will start at QB. We will not be able to move the ball effectively on the WV defense on our first 3-4 series - Army will resort to passing and get intercepted - WV will build a 2 TD lead - Ballard will play most of the second half throwing at least 10-15 passes in an attempt to regain the lead. We will make a great effort but fall just short.
I hope I am completely wrong!

Makes little to no sense Ballard is currently running 3rd. What happens to Tyler?
 
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RabbleNumberOneFan

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Matt's scenario is certainly one of many possibilities , but I think this game will turn on the strategy that Army adopts -- call it the game plan -- on both sides of the ball. If Army decides to play conservative offense ( direct play calls/no option ), they will have to stop WV's balanced attack cold to win. That will require generating a pass rush and not giving up too much space on pass defense, but Army had significant trouble trying to pull that off with Tulane's O in H2 that game where the Fr QB picked us apart. Can the D stop this more experienced QB and his receivers? Will the D try to play " bend but don't break" pass D ? If we play very conservative offense, we seemingly can not play "bend but don't break"and hope to win . In that case we will have to challenge their receivers and not give ground as we normally dp . Alternatively if we play a less risk averse offense, i.e. run the triple option series and work in some creative passing plays, we should have a good chance to move the ball ( big plays) on these guys and thus a bend but don't break defensive scheme could work . Should coaches decide to play conservative O , CA and D2 ( if he is healthy ) will get the call at QB. . If we play a more wide open O, the coaches will have to choose between CA , JJ ( if healthy -- seems to be ) and second year frosh Ballard. IMO a healthy JJ is the best choice to run the option -- the smoothest operator -- and to penetrate the mesh and take the inevitable beating. CA is a bit shaky and tends to get ripped when he keeps. Ballard is okay but needs more TO reps -- his arm could keep them honest though should we be willing to mix it up ! Let's hope that is not after we go down a couple TDs. But if we are to mix in the pass, where are WRs Cam Harrison and I. Alston? When all said and done, I think this staff will opt for the conservative O ( which worked against less talented teams) and for a space trading pass D in H1. If that does not work , I think they will opt for the more a risky scheme on offense ( as cited above) in H2 , but keep playing space trading pass D because they think the opposition's speed necessitates it. ////// Would open up with the risky scheme against this WV Team because I think it is the most likely way, perhaps the only way, to beat them. /////// Note while the point spread is Army +7 the money line suggests the sharpies think WV will win most of the time. If you bet $100 on Arm and we cover, you will win $270 bucks ( $370 returned) . If you bet $100 on WV and they cover you win only about $38 ( $138 returned) . Apparently Sports Books have reached equilibrium on the bettings ( close to same on both sides of the wager -- both the spread and the money line have come down slowly the last few days ) which of course is what they strive for. Now the smart bettor , one who has good intel on these teams, could have an advantage. If I were a betting man ( am not) , I would much prefer $100 on Army and profit $270 ( total 370) should we cover and not the WV to cover. I think Army has a good chance to cover the spread. About half the bettors ( equilibrium) do not agree with me. Seeing it as a near "sure thing" they bet $100 on WV to cover and will be happy to net $38 bucks as get their $100 back.
 

BigMatt60

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RabbleNumberone fan gives us a lot to think about.

I doubt that our defense will shut them down, so we must adapt a more risky offensive game plan that will score several Army TDs. If we try to execute the ultra-conservative game plan that we used against Navy and AF I think we will find ourselves quickly behind by 2 TDs or more.

An aggressive offensive game plan is risky for us because we have not executed the option or passing game successfully against decent teams. Why would we think that we can suddenly do it now? However, I do not think we have any choice. I think we should just go for it and accept the consequences.

If we play "bend but don't break" defense, they will pick us apart and dominate time of possession.

My head hurts thinking about all of this. This could be a game like Houston 2-3 years ago where we just want the game more and they will be flat.
 

armyconner08

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I agree with OntheHudson87...biggest mistake is to try to reinvent who we are...we should devise an offensive plan within our scheme that best gives us the opportunity to run the football, maintain possession (best defense), & have a shot at the end where “what to” matters most...Beat West Virginia! Beat Navy!
 

Armyranger26

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I agree with OntheHudson87...biggest mistake is to try to reinvent who we are...we should devise an offensive plan within our scheme that best gives us the opportunity to run the football, maintain possession (best defense), & have a shot at the end where “what to” matters most...Beat West Virginia! Beat Navy!

I agree 100%. Identity = Destiny, where you have to know who you are to know where you are going and how you got here. #PAF = Play Army Football
 

jiacono

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Waited a while to make a pick. Bowl games are tough to dissect because there isn’t much history there and you never know if a team will show up or not; who will be available to play; and who actually wants to be there.
One thing we learned from Houston two years ago: If you aren’t ALL IN on stopping Army’s running game and aren’t ready to sacrifice your body to do so, it will be a very long day for you.
What we have working against us:
*WVU is probably the most athletic and talented team Army has played this year minus maybe Cincinnati.
*JM is something like 2-10 vs. P5 opponents in his time at Army. Sometimes the athletic ability is just too much to overcome.
What we have working in our favor:
*Opt outs. In 2018, Oliver and D’Eriq King opted out and it had a large impact on the game. Fields opting out is a big deal. We’ll see if they have others.
*Does WVU really want to be in a knock down, drag out, bar room brawl for 60 minutes? This isn’t one of their cute “basketball on turf” Big 12 games.
*They have never faced the triple option in recent memory. The adjustment to game speed in the first half will be tough on them. Everyone has a plan until JaKobi Buchanan and the MOB punches them
in the face. Their run defense stats are meaningless because run defense against our offense has nothing to do with stopping the spread.

If WVU quits like Houston did and decides they don’t want to be there after getting punched in the mouth a few times, we win easy.

I personally think they are too talented and too well coached to allow this to happen to them. I think we get a game more like SanDiego St. in 2017. Our offense isn’t as good as the 2017 Army team but our defense is better so I don’t expect WVU to score almost every time they get the ball like Rashaad Penny did.
Our kids won’t get blown out. This means too much to them.

As always with Army, this game will come down to turnovers and keeping their offense on the bench as much as possible.

Army - 24
WVU - 20
 

Indadshonor

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jiacono - I agree that WV is too well coached, so don't expect them to quit. I also agree with many of the other points being made. Our ability to win this game comes down to finding a way to stick with what we do best; running the triple option. A running between the tackles strategy (by-itself) will be very tough against a defensive line which includes a USA Today All American – and it won’t be long before they crowd the box. It also eliminates the one real advantage we have going into this game - WV’s lack of experience defending the option. Although I would not question our toughness in a knock down drag-out game against our opponent - the key to this game (IMO) is exploiting our advantage and keeping WV’s D off balance and confused.

Out of all our victories this year, the one that impressed me the most was the win over UTSA. The Roadrunners finished 7 and 5 this year but were underrated IMO – they nearly came-back to defeat a really good Louisiana football team yesterday. While UTSA had some experience defending our option (i.e. the previous year), the installment of a 2 QB strategy most likely caught them off-guard; it was brilliant IMO. It was a winning strategy against a good opponent - and with some key Qb injuries, it still allowed us to do what we do best. Why not replicate that concept for this game? While I’m not in favor of alternating Qbs during an entire season (i.e. next year), I do believe it provides us with our best chance to win. Just my opinion opinion but:
  • Recognizing a variety of skill sets, using multiple Qbs gives us our best chance (in this game) to utilize all phases of the triple option. This will exploit WV’s lack of experience defending it
  • Using multiple Qbs (or alternating Qbs) IMO will also serve to by keep WVs D off balance and guessing
  • Using multiple Qbs (or alternating Qbs) has worked before
If we can sustain drives, I believe our already outstanding D will create more problems for the Mountaineer offense. We are CIC Champions – and never underestimate the heart of a champion.

Army 28
WV 21
 

BigMatt60

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jiacono - I agree that WV is too well coached, so don't expect them to quit. I also agree with many of the other points being made. Our ability to win this game comes down to finding a way to stick with what we do best; running the triple option. A running between the tackles strategy (by-itself) will be very tough against a defensive line which includes a USA Today All American – and it won’t be long before they crowd the box. It also eliminates the one real advantage we have going into this game - WV’s lack of experience defending the option. Although I would not question our toughness in a knock down drag-out game against our opponent - the key to this game (IMO) is exploiting our advantage and keeping WV’s D off balance and confused.

Out of all our victories this year, the one that impressed me the most was the win over UTSA. The Roadrunners finished 7 and 5 this year but were underrated IMO – they nearly came-back to defeat a really good Louisiana football team yesterday. While UTSA had some experience defending our option (i.e. the previous year), the installment of a 2 QB strategy most likely caught them off-guard; it was brilliant IMO. It was a winning strategy against a good opponent - and with some key Qb injuries, it still allowed us to do what we do best. Why not replicate that concept for this game? While I’m not in favor of alternating Qbs during an entire season (i.e. next year), I do believe it provides us with our best chance to win. Just my opinion opinion but:
  • Recognizing a variety of skill sets, using multiple Qbs gives us our best chance (in this game) to utilize all phases of the triple option. This will exploit WV’s lack of experience defending it
  • Using multiple Qbs (or alternating Qbs) IMO will also serve to by keep WVs D off balance and guessing
  • Using multiple Qbs (or alternating Qbs) has worked before
If we can sustain drives, I believe our already outstanding D will create more problems for the Mountaineer offense. We are CIC Champions – and never underestimate the heart of a champion.

Army 28
WV 21
We keep having posters depending on the option offense to confuse WV. WE RARELY RUN THE TRADITIONAL ARMY OPTION PLAYS. I would have to review the game tapes, but I think we might have run the option a total of 2-3 times against Navy and AF. It seems that the majority of our plays are basic off-tackle runs by our FBs plus planned QB runs. This offense is not successful against a good defense.
 
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regfadden

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You know, everybody on here IMHO are staunch Army followers and diehard fans. Absolutely non of us have a "real" clue what is going to work Thursday. BUT I'm guessing our coaching staff has a plan they have been working on since the WVA matchup was announced. And I say thank God they do since none of us are going to be on the sideline come game time.

I say the body of work this Army's team has displayed this year is my hope for a win this Liberty Bowl. The defense has been stellar, so go get 'em and keep their scoring down. The Army offense has still averaged this year more than WVA defense has given up which says the coaches need a great play calling game

Put all together coaches and bring us home 25 to 21
 

armyconner08

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Agree jiacono...if we are down, but in the game...we just keep fighting doing our thing...eventually we’ll get our opportunity...then we’ll see who wants it more...remember down 17-10 to Cincinnati with 8 min left in the 4th quarter & we get the ball with a chance to go get the win, but the offense stalls & we ultimately lose after late Cincinnati TD

Compare this to AF when we have to go 80yds with 8 min left in the 4th quarter to win & we do it (very hard thing to do & says a lot about our team)...

I think this team has come a long ways & the last 2 wins are very significant...if the bowl game comes down to a final drive or stop, then I like our chances...
 

SpecialOps55

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Army 17
West Virginia 14

The difference will be Kicker Quinn Maretzki

zzcthch8g9tvqa99yjbz
 

Indadshonor

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We keep having posters depending on the option offense to confuse WV. WE RARELY RUN THE TRADITIONAL ARMY OPTION PLAYS. I would have to review the game tapes, but I think we might have run the option a total of 2-3 times against Navy and AF. It seems that the majority of our plays are basic off-tackle runs by our FBs plus planned QB runs. This offense is not successful against a good defense.

That was my point BigMatt.