Knight Game

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rutgers is 6 games into their season and we still don't know much about how good the Scarlet Knights are. Wins against Howard, FIU, Texas Southern, and Maryland proved only that those schools actually field football teams, and Rutgers' conference losses to Cincinnati and Pitt proved only that Rutgers is not among the Big East elite. There's no question RU will achieve bowl eligibility if they win this one, but in terms of bowl chances - this game is a must-win for both teams.

Rutgers comes to Michie Stadium on Friday for Army's only 2009 night game. I'm ecstatic that it's on ESPN2, because this is an Army team that deserves to be seen. They've made some big strides this year and hopefully will get used to playing on this type of national stage considering the future games that will be played at Yankee Stadium. As lucky as we've been to get all of Army's home games on CBS College Sports Network... complete lapses in coverage preside when Army leaves the friendly confines of home and plays their games out of their home TV deal.

Enter Rutgers - with their Hollywood glitz and Big East swagger. About this time 3 years ago Rutgers was lighting the Empire State Building in scarlet on its way to an 11-2 record and an Inaugural Texas Bowl bid. That was the all-time high-water mark for Rutgers and they have fallen back down to earth since then, but for Army, this likely represents the toughest challenge of the season.

Even at 0-2 in the Big East, this is not the Rutgers team of old. RU has an attacking defense that has blitzed at every turn - which is not to say that they will pass-blitz on Friday, but they do ball-hawk and one thing they absolutely can do is shut down the run. Pitt's Dion Lewis burned them last week, but while Rutgers just can't compare to Pitt - Army will have its hands full with the Rutgers defense.

Army will have to outsmart Rutgers if they want a chance to win. Option misdirection will only go so far against Rutgers' fast front 7... option passes can produce big gains, but they can't be relied on by themselves... I'm proposing the use of big WR Ale Villanueva as a slot receiver as a physical presence to help with the run game AND as a tight target for quick 3 step drop passes. If Army can somehow surprise RU with some new wrinkles to keep them off balance - plus play near-perfect, disciplined, ball control football - mixed with a little decent D (and a few, well... many lucky bounces)... the Black Knights can have a puncher's chance to end the night with a win.

For this week we can forget about CBS College Sports Network coverage as the game will be aired on ESPN2. Army is fresh off a loss after being hosed by the MAC-centric refs at Temple... hopefully Army fans come out in force for this game because the Black Knights will need as many Army fans as possible in this one versus the team from nearby New Jersey. Beyond fan support it would be great to see a full stadium for ESPN's marquee Friday night game. There's no reason to stay away and if you want to watch the game on TV - record it and watch it again while Navy plays their game on CBS College Sports Network. The most important thing is to attend this one live.



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