(Photo Courtesy of wvusports.com)
WVU wraps up it’s season today against a 9-2 Army team after over a month off. The common consensus from fans about this Army team is even though they are 9-2 it’s an “unimpressive” 9-2. I’m a firm believer that there is no “unimpressive” 2 loss team. This game shouldn’t be taken lightly by WVU nor the fan base. It’s tough to win football games, let alone a majority of them. Plain and simple.
The Mountaineers haven’t had much experience playing a team of the likes of Army. WVU is 1-2 against Army, their only win coming in the last meeting in 1961 by a score of 7-3. Back then Army and Navy were perennial powerhouses. Nowadays, it’s hard for the service academies to get big, athletic players to commit knowing they’ll be adding and dropping upwards of 70 pounds a year. It’s clear WVU has a talent advantage, however, what they don’t have is a discipline advantage. Nor is WVU familiar with the triple option offense, that can be as easy, or as hard to stop as you want it to be.
I spent six years in a triple option offense, similar to the one Navy runs, with a few packages mirrored off Army’s package. The philosophy is simple, three yards gets first downs. The success of the offense isn’t seen on the scoreboard, it’s in the time of possession, penalties, and turnovers. There will be brand new things the Mountaineer defense has never seen before and it’s hard to believe until you do see it. Unblocked interior defensive lineman, unblocked ends, and triple teams. It’s frustrating to play against but easy to stop for a disciplined unit.
Keys to the Game
Army is 15th in the nation in penalty yardage per game with a shade under 40 yards on average. WVU ranks 119th with 76 average penalty yards per game. This is the simplest key you can possibly get. Do NOT give Army free yards. The easiest way to slow this offense is to keep first down gains to a minimum. Free yardage will not help keep third downs long. It’s expected service academies don’t make mental mistakes, the Mountaineers will need to be on their best behavior to win this game.
All American defensive lineman Darius Stills will be left unblocked at some point during this game. Yes, you read that right. He will be used as a read key at some point. He could be used as a read key often. We’re going to learn just how good Darius Stills is. With that being said, any one of the three defensive lineman can be left unblocked at any time. The linebackers and lineman must work together to create a united front that covers each gap of the run game. 90% of Army’s plays will be running plays. Creating a wall at the line of scrimmage is the easiest way to limit yardage. If anyone unblocked gets excited and pushes too far upfield, Tyhier Tyler or any of the four Army quarterbacks will be headed for 6 real quick. Even three yards upfield is too far. Patience from the defense will play a big part in shutting down this Army offense.
You will notice about 80% of Army’s offensive plays will end up with a one on one shot between a ball carrier and a tackler. If this offense is working to it’s utmost potential, they’re always one missed tackle away from a score. The defensive backs will only see two man pass patterns aside from emergency situations. This secondary is talented enough to cover that man to man. The rest of the secondary will need to rally to the ball and assist on the tackle. Poor angles and missed tackles will create a long day for WVU in this one. With the aggression the Mountaineer defense has showed all year I don’t expect this to be a problem.