On Saturday, the 0-2 Army Black Knights will march into ACC territory to take on the 2-1 Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. Although the season records are different, both ball club will be looking at their upcoming contest as a DNA identifier. The Black Knights were blow out in their season opener to San Diego State, 42-7 but only to come back the follow week and go toe-to-toe with Northern Illinois in a heart breaking 41-40 loss.
So, who are the real Black Knights?
Ironically, Wake Forest went toe-to-toe against UNC two weeks ago and pulled out a 28-27 win, along with having taken down Liberty in the 2012 opener. However, this past Saturday, the Deacons got bum-rushed against #4 Florida State, 52-0 and like Army, they are faced with the proverbial question.
So who are the real Demon Deacons?
So let's read ahead to hear what A.M. Allan, Football Analyst of GoBlackKnights.com and Ben Doster, Associate Editor of DeaconsIllustrated.com have to say about Saturday's match-up.
What team has the more potent offense?
The truth be told, Army's rushing offense is on pace to surpass their rushing performance in 2011 when they lead the nation is rushing and Wake Forest's defense will be hard pressed to slow down this group. In last Saturday's loss to Northern Illinois, the Black Knights rush for an impressive 486 yards. And the distribution of wealth (carries) is equally as impressive as it saw slotback Raymond Maples leading the charge once again with an impressive 159 (23 carries), fullback Larry Dixon logged in 136 (28 carries) and quarterback Trent Steelman hit the charts with 116 (27 carries).
"Wake Forest has the advantage when it comes to playmakers. Michael Campanaro reeled in 22 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown before the Demon Deacons embarrassing 52-0 loss at Florida State. However, Army's ability to execute its misdirection and option schemes and eat the clock may limit the opportunities of Campanaro and others to make plays."
Who is the offensive x-factor and why?
For Army it will be quarterback Trent Steelman, who is coming off of a very solid game this past week against Northern Illinois, where he rushed for 116 yards, made great decision running the triple option, but more importantly, he was error free. Even beyond decision making and his rushing yards, don't be surprise if Steelman airs it out early against the Demon Deacons, who will most like start the game with 8 in the box against Army's rushing attack.
"While Campanaro is the obvious go-to-guy Wake is working to balance its offensive attack in the passing and ground game. Terence Davis, Sherman Ragland and Brandon Terry emerged as reliable targets against North Carolina, but regressed against the Seminoles. This trio must return to form to alleviate pressure from Campanaro."
"Liberty, UNC and FSU held the Deacs under 100 yards rushing. Much of Wake Forest's ineffectiveness
can be attributed to a injuries and a lack of experience up front. For Wake to run the ball successfully
it offensive line must grow up quickly, so Josh Harris and DeAndre Martin use
their game-breaking ability."
Why is this game a must win and/or a defining game this Saturday?
Although Head Coach Rich Ellerson has often said that each game is just another new game. Well, as true as that might be philosophically, if this ball club is going to rebound and make something out of their 2012 season, they can not afford to suffer another early season lost. Hence, starting out 0-3. Such a lost who have both coaches and players questioning the temperament of this team and the season as a whole. Without question, this is a "must win" for the Black Knights.
"After such a crushing loss at the hands of the Noles it is imperative for the Demon Deacons to prove to themselves they still know how to win.
Which team has the better defense?
Although Wake Forest gave up 52 points to Florida State, who is presently ranked #4 in the nation, it also a defense that held potent UNC offense to 27 points. Whereby the Black Knights are still attempting to find their defensive identity, after giving up 42 & 41 points to San Diego State and Northern Illinois respectively.
"The defensive side of the ball does not appear to be a strength for either team. In two games Army has yielded 83 points to its opposition, while in three contests Wake Forest has allowed 96 points."
"However, Wake has improved in its ability to pressure the quarterback from a year ago. The Demon Deacons have already made seven sacks this season, while only recording 11 in 2011. Army only has one sack."
"The Deacs have forced five turnovers to the Black Knights three, giving the edge in play-making ability on defense to Wake."
Who is the defensive x-factor and why?
Army's X-factor will be the return captain Jarrett Mackey to the defensive lineup. The captain and defensive end, who missed all of the 2011 season has been given the clearance to make his 2012 debut, something the staff, his teammates and Black Knights fans have been anxiously waiting for. Albeit not 100%, a 75% Mackey is a boost to the defense.
"It appears Wake will again be without its All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock, forcing true freshman defensive end Tylor Harris to play in his stead."
"In three games Harris has recorded seven tackles (six solo, one assist), a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Wake Forest needs him to play well against Army's confusing Wing-T attack."
Who has the edge on special teams?
Overall, the Black Knights have been above average on special teams. Needless to say, last Saturday's missed PAT early in the contest by frosh kicker Daniel Grochowski changed the complexion of the game. But the young kicker has tremendous upside. Then there is senior Eric Osteen who has done an outstanding job on handling the kickoff duties, where he is averaging 62.4 yards per kickoff. In his 7 kickoffs against NIU, 3 went for touchbacks.
We call this one even.
"Alexander Kinal is a legitimate weapon at punter, pinning teams inside the 20-yard-line 12 times already this season. Also, Michael Campanaro is a threat to break a big one every time he fields a punt."
"If Kinal can consistently give Army bad starting field position, Wake can improve its kick-coverage and its numbers in the return categories the Demon Deacons should thrive in the special teams phase of football."
Which team will control the game offensively?
By virtue of their offense style, look for Army to duplicate what they did last weekend, where maintained control of both the clock and the ball, with an amazing 42.33 in the time of possession category. The plus side to those numbers is that were fumble-less through the contest.
"Army will likely win the time of possession battle, but if Wake can force three-and-outs or limit the Black Knights output on first and second third and fourth conversions will be hard to come by."
"The Deacs have the caliber of talent at the skill positions to create problems for Army, but the offensive line must give time and protection for plays to develop. It all hinges on their play. If they can win the battle in the trenches it may be a long afternoon in Winston-Salem for the Black Knights."
Which player is the sleeper for Saturday's game & why?
We have two selections ... first there's slotback Malcolm Brown. But not as Army fans are expecting. With sophomore running back Terry Baggett out due to injury, the senior Brown returns to his familiar slotback position. But we will add another player to this list and that is sophomore Trenton Turrentine, who will be making his 2012 debut, backing up Brown. Expect Turrentine, who is returning from a broken thumb to see plenty of playing time. Both players are our sleepers for Saturday's game.
"Ragland is tougher and more physical than most receivers. He has shown glimpses of greatness, but still has not proven himself to be a consistent go-to-target. The Black Knights have allowed an average of 278.5 yards through the air, making Saturday's game a prime opportunity for Ragland to breakout."
Predict the final score?
The Black Knights come in confident and relax, with an offense that will control the ball and the clock, along with putting points on the board. The Army defense will bend and even break a few times during the course of the game, but sustain itself enough to compliment what the Army offense rolls out.
Wake Forest 24
Wake Forest wins 27-13.
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