Wake Forest Football: Army Team Overview
No. 22 Wake Forest took down No. 23 Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday 31-21. The crucial Atlantic Division win allowed the Deacs to rise up to No. 15 in the latest AP Poll. The Deacs return to Truist Field on Saturday night to take on the Army Black Knights, led by head coach Jeff Monken, who’s in his ninth season. After a 9-4 campaign in 2021, the Knights have struggled to open the year, starting off 1-3.
The Deacs have won 10 of their last 11 matchups against Army — they’ll look to continue their recent success and advance to 5-1 on the year.
Let’s take a look at the Army Black Knights.
In a matchup that dates back to 1945, the Deacs hold a 12-5 advantage over 17 contests. In Wake’s 14-point win last season, the two teams combined to score 126 points, the highest total of the 2021 FBS season.
Army in 2022:
Surrendering 30 points a game thus far, Army has faltered to a 1-3 start. The Knights’ rushing attack, a typical strength of the program, has been dominant (302.3 yards per game). However, with the Black Knights putting up just 114.3 yards per game through the air, the rush attack has not been enough for them to consistently win games.
The Knights’ sole win came against Villanova in Week 3. Outside of this victory, they have suffered losses to Coastal Carolina, UTSA and Georgia State.
Besides their annual rivalry with Navy, this matchup may be the most significant one for Army on the 2022 slate.
Army X-Factor: Tyhier Taylor’s contribution to the rush attack
Senior quarterback Tyhier Taylor has had great success in the backfield during his tenure at Army. Eclipsing 475 rushing yards in each of his last two seasons, Tyler has tacked on 254 yards and six touchdowns in just four games this year.
In the Villanova win, Tyler averaged 6.4 yards a carry en route to a three-touchdown, 77-yard performance.
Against Wake last season, Tyler rushed for a season-high 104 yards on 15 carries. If he can have similar success, the Knights will be capable of wearing down the Wake defense, simultaneously keeping Hartman and the offense off the field.
Deploying a triple option, Monken’s creativity has established a unique identity for the Army offense. Notoriously difficult to stop, this approach allows the Knights’ offense to churn out yardage and chew clock.
In this style of offense, Army leans heavily on the ground game to put points on the board. With the 127th ranked passing offense in the FBS, it’s evident that the Knights’ backfield will dictate their overall success.
The Knights have a wealth of options to aid in the run game — five different players have tallied over 30 rush attempts this season. At running back, sophomore Tyrell Robinson leads the room in yards per carry (8.8) with 282 yards and a touchdown. Junior Tyson Riley has added 218 yards, while fellow junior Jakobi Buchanan has gone for 175 yards and three touchdowns.
The aforementioned Tyler is a major contributor to the rush attack, almost acting as an additional running back — he only has attempted six passes. He and senior QB Cade Ballard have combined for 385 yards on the ground. Ballard is the leading passer, completing 16 of 28 passes for a total of 320 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
In typical fashion, expect the Knights’ to rely on their rush attack to earn the win. Last year, the Deacs gave up 418 yards on the ground and 56 total points, allowing Army to keep it a game until late in the contest. If Army can replicate their 2021 success on the ground, the Knights can force a similar result to last year.
The Knights’ defense has taken a step back since last season. In 2021, they held opponents to 22.38 points a game, but have given up 30.0 points per game through four contests this season.
Leading the team defensively is junior linebacker Leo Lowin, who has tallied 39 tackles (24 solo) and a sack this season. Lowin anchors a formidable front seven that is averaging two sacks a game. With only one significant loss from last season in nose tackle Nolan Cockrill, the Knights have a lot of room for defensive improvement.
Senior Marquel Broughton headlines the secondary. In his junior campaign, he amassed 70 tackles (39 solo), two interceptions and six pass deflections. This year, Broughton has added 29 tackles (19 solo), a forced fumble and an interception.
The Knights’ defense has underachieved in critical moments this season. Their opponents have converted on 46.7% of their third down plays (21 of 45 attempts) and 66.7% of their fourth down plays (6 of 9 attempts).
If the Deacs can capitalize on the Knights’ defensive miscues, things could get out of hand early. The Knights’ success on third downs will be critical in deciding the outcome in this one.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.