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Army vs. UTEP: First look at the Black Knights

A quick first glance at the Miners’ upcoming opponent.

NCAA Football: Rice at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Major defensive improvement

Army's biggest improvement mark in two games in 2016 has been their stout defense.

Through two weeks, Army ranks 25th in the nation in total defense, and is 12th in the nation in third down defense.

There are also fifth in the nation with a plus-5 turnover margin, and already have four interceptions which is two less than the total interception numbers from 2015.

Army shut down Rice on third downs last week as the Owls went 1-for-10, on the season both Rice and Temple went a combined 4-for-19 on third downs.

Army's pair of middle linebackers Jeremy Timpf and Andrew King lead the Black Knight's 3-4 slant defense and combined for 92 tackles last season. Their linebacker havoc rate through two games ranks 4th in the nation, meaning both are constantly playing behind the line of scrimmage and stacking up TFL’s.

King was named to the Nagurski Award watch list coming into the 2016 season.

UTEP saw a tough defense last week in Texas, while the Black Knights won’t have the athletes like the Horns. Their sound scheme will test UTEP with a number of different looks and pressures that they have executed very well in the first two weeks of the young season.

Elite finishers, so far

In their first two games, the Black Knights have shut out their opponents in the fourth quarter with a 17-0 scoring edge.

Army only allowed 20-yards of total offense in the fourth quarter against Temple, and scored a pair of touchdowns on the offensive side to put Temple away. in week one.

The Army defense is forcing incomplete passes on 35.7 percent of opponents pass attempts, and owns a 20% standard down sack rate as a defense which is attributing to the ability to put their first two opponents away in the fourth quarter.

Their ability to bleed the fourth quarter clock with their running game is a major reason UTEP can’t afford to play from behind in this one.

Efficient rushing attack

Army's triple-option doesn't appear to be explosive in terms of big plays, but even worse, they run the ball efficiently and eat clock.

The Black Knights rank fourth in the nation averaging 338.5 yards on the ground in their first two games.

Fullback Andy Davidson is a tough downhill runner who ran for 121 yards against Temple, and has five rushing touchdowns which ranks third in the nation. Davidson is the all-important "dive fullback" in Army's triple option.

UTEP nose guard Gino Bresolin will be well prepared for Davidson who does a good job of always falling forward for extra yards.

They have yet to commit a turnover either, and average 38 minutes in the time of possession department.

Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw is a slippery runner who has great balance, and does a great job of extending drives with his decision making on the option, and his elusiveness with the football.

With a season long rush of 37-yards, what Army lacks in game changing speed, they make up for it with a 48 percent rushing success rate on the season.

Their rushing attack has been stuffed on just 11.9 percent of their 136 total rushes, and their offensive line creates 3.57 yards per carry on standard downs which helps the Black Knights continually move the chains.

UTEP will have to be sound in reading their keys, and of course not allowing yards after contact.

Notable facts

The Black Knights have yet to score first in each of the first two games. After a scoreless first quarter against Temple, the Owls scored first in the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead Since allowing that first score, Army has outscored its opponents 59-10 in the opening two games.

Army will wear a helmet sticker each week honoring divisions of the Army, this week they honor the 1st Armored Division which is based out of Fort Bliss.

Army has won two straight games for the first time in 70 games since 2010.

Army gives their classes motto's that they follow:

  • 2020: With Vision We Lead
  • 2019: So Freedom Will Reign
  • 2018: So Others May Dream
  • 2017: With Honor We Lead

Army also doesn’t issue the number 12, which is reserved for the Corps of Cadets as the 12th man.