Get On Up

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This week's opponent, Duke, is coming off a home game against Alabama - where we found out a lot about what we already knew. Alabama is good and Duke would have a tough time doing anything in that game.

The game merely reinforced Alabama's reputation as an elite BCS team and leaves a question mark as to Duke's ability on the football field. We all knew what Duke was getting with Alabama...

The Blue Devils themselves appeared to have taken that fact too seriously.

Cutcliffe said Sunday he wasn't happy how his players were pretty much defeated before Alabama made all their big plays in a 62-13 win.

"At times, we played on our heels against a reputation," Cutcliffe said.

Army doesn't have the resume or ranking of Alabama, but -win or lose- the Duke game will forge Army's reputation this year as either road-warrior-world-beaters or "same old Army". To Black Knight fans, Army are what they are - but that won't stop the perception of folks who won't get the chance to watch the Duke game, nor will it keep a reputation, either positive or negative, from being created.

For Army, it's win this game and you're on the fast track to 6 wins and a postseason appearance. There will be emotions about the way last year's game against the Blue Devils ended, and there will be the tough circumstances of traveling to Durham playing in an old stadium on a grass field against a team from a BCS conference. Army has knocked off this type of opponent before, but not on grass and not on the road.

I want to break away from the pep rally for a minute to take a look at the phenomenal job of chronicling the 2010 Army season being done by Danny Wild. His photographs seem to get better as time goes on, and Danny is as involved a journalist as we get as Army fans. Take the time to head over there and follow along through the season. His pictures themselves may end up being the best documentation we'll get of Army's season, but his game reports are quite noteworthy too. Get over there, check out the Danny Wild site, and bookmark it for posterity.

Looking ahead at the Blue Devils, we all remember the tough loss at Michie last year. Well, forget about how that game went down - it's a different and better Duke team this year. Duke comes into this game with a revamped running game. Granted, it would have been impossible not to have improved their rushing as the Devils were #120 in rushing last year.

The positive side of looking ahead to Duke is that they have had trouble on defense.
The Blue Devils are 111th in Div 1-A in Rushing Defense , 118th in scoring defense  and 117th in Total defense. It's probably not worth mentioning that Duke is #108 in Pass Defense, but their rushing Defense has been a weak spot for the Blue Devils.

Against Elon Duke gave up 125 yards, allowing 9.16 yards per carry against all (non-QB) rushers.

Against Wake, Duke allowed 5.15 yards per carry, including 11.1 yds/carry (122 yards)  to Wake's feature back Sean Renfree.

Alabama had their way with Duke's rushing D tearing off 338 total rush yards on 30 (non QB) carries. Now, I'm not going to equate Army's power rush game with Alabama's, but that might just be Army's advantage. Alabama will line two guys up and run off tackle. Army's misdirection option puts four capable backs on the field at once. Sal notes the endurance of Army's offensive line, and while none of them are over 300 lbs, they have done a great job thus far this year.

The more I look at the matchup, the more I see Army coming out of the game with the "W". The assignment is tough, traveling to Duke to play on grass will not be a gimme game, but this is an important game for the Black Knights, and Duke's defense is ripe for the picking. If ever there was a time for a statement game - for Army - this is it.

Army/Duke game notes are up. (pdf)  This is a big game.




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