It is time to look at the games 5-8 for the Black Knights in 2010. Much like the first four games, there are two games Army should definitely win and two toss-up games that can go either way. Worst case scenario should be 2-2, with a 4-0 stretch possible. The most realistic outcome is a 3-1 record in these four games, which would make Army bowl-eligible if they win three of their first four games as I have predicted.
Saturday October 2nd vs. Temple
Temple had a surprise season in 2009 recording a 9-4 record under Head Coach Al Golden. Temple returns 16 starters (nine on offense, seven on defense) from a team that had a chance to play in the MAC Championship Game before they lost to Ohio in the final week of the regular season. Temple is the preseason pick to win the MAC in 2010. Sophomore Bernard Pierce is the star of the Owls’ offense, coming off a freshman season during which he racked up 1,631 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns. Temple’s defensive line was the strength of their defense last season, but the loss Andre Neblett leaves a major void to fill.
Temple beat the Black Knights 27-13 last season. Army’s rush defense will need to step up in this game to contain Pierce and force the Owls to take to the air. On offense Army will need to find a way to crack the middle of the Temple defensive line. Look for inside runs with Jared Hassin as Army tests the new starter that steps in for Andre Neblett behind the blocking of Center Zach Peterson. This is a toss-up game, right now the edge goes to Temple.
Saturday October 9th vs. Tulane
This was Army’s worst loss of 2009. The Black Knights blew a 16-7 fourth quarter lead and missed a 37 yard field goal with 12 seconds left in a 17-16 loss. Tulane is not expected to have a good season in 2010. An offense that provided very little production lost its top rusher and top receiver. Quarterback Ryan Griffin will be the leader of the offense as he enters his sophomore season. On defense the Green Wave’s strength lies in its secondary.
Last season’s loss against Tulane can be pointed to as ten minutes of poor play that held the Black Knights out of the bowl season. Expect Army to head into New Orleans with that loss fresh in their minds. With Tulane looking to replace the majority of their offensive production and not having much in the way of talent in their defensive front seven, this seems to be a good matchup. No fourth quarter collapse here, Army leaves the Big Easy with a win.
Saturday October 16th at Rutgers
Rutgers enters 2010 with sophomore quarterback Tom Savage looking to build on a very good freshman campaign. The major questions for the Scarlet Knights are on defense where they lost five starters, including the team’s top four tacklers in 2009. Rutgers lost production at each level on defense, with defensive lineman George Johnson, linebackers Damaso Munoz and Ryan D’Imperio, cornerback Devin McCourty and safety Zaire Kitchen all leaving the program.
The key to this game will be Army’s secondary containing Savage and the Rutgers passing attack. Though Savage was very good last year, the defense is what carried Rutgers. Look for the Rutgers defense to take a step back in 2010, and if Army can hold Savage in check, they can exploit the Scarlet Knight defense and come away with a win.
Saturday October 30th vs. VMI
The Keydets return six starters on offense, but they will be switching from a triple-option to a pro style offense in 2010. It is a major change in offensive philosophy, and there will be bumps along the road. The defense will be VMI’s strong point returning 10 starters and entering their second season employing a 3-4 defense.
This is a win for Army. The last thing a new offense needs is to face is a defense that shows different looks and creates confusion with pressure coming from different areas. Look for the Army defense to dominate here. The offense should be able to find enough running lanes to put up a couple scores. This will not be a blowout due to the styles of the two teams, but Army should come away with a strong showing and another victory.
A Look Ahead at the Last Four
Army should be sitting at 6-2 after the first eight games. This will give the Black Knights confidence heading into the last four games of 2010, which includes the three biggest games on Army’s schedule. Check back in a couple days to see how the end of the year will pan out.
About the Author
Written by Donald Lappe
Senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Double Major in Media & Society and United States History. Also writing for TapouT Magazine and MMA Worldwide Magazine.