Another long summer’s day sees another publication coming out and ranking the Army Black Knights comfortably inside its top 100 in its preseason college football countdown. Today we are looking at the Orlando Sentinel – a newspaper that has been doing national level previews for a few years now – as they have the Black Knights at No. 72 in the nation heading into the 2017 season.
The first item of note in this preview is that at the No. 72 position the Black Knights find themselves ahead of a host of Power 5 schools. This is a list that includes the likes of Rutgers (93), Virginia (92), Duke (85), and Pittsburgh (82). If nothing else, this shows that Jeff Monken has the Black Knights trending in the right direction in the eyes of those who watch more football than most.
After a recap of last season, the piece notes the usual returnees versus losses, before going into the strengths and the weaknesses of the Black Knights.
As with most previews, much of the focus when it comes to strengths is directed at the Army rushing attack. The article mentions the consistency of the unit while pointing out that Army returns four of five starters on the offensive line for 2017. In many ways, these linemen and their cohesion are more important than the players rushing behind them, so this was an excellent point that needed to be mentioned.
As for weaknesses, the Sentinel notes that Army is losing three of its top four tacklers from last year. We already know that the Black Knights are going to look very different in the back seven this year on defense, but when you put the numbers together it is quite frightening to realize exactly what Army has to replace from a defense that was statistically one of the very best in the country last season. Special teams and turnover issues are also mentioned as weaknesses.
I am not going to spoil the conclusion here by going over the outlook for Army as predicted by the Sentinel. Instead, it is worth going over to the piece to see how Army is viewed through the eyes of those outside the program.