After a miserable offensive performance in Week 1 against Duke, Army was able to get rolling on Saturday against Liberty. The Black Knights next test is a Hawaii team that has already beaten Navy and that can score points for fun.
Here are the three keys:
Try to slow the Hawaii passing attack
Hawaii in 2018 looks a lot like Hawaii when Colt Brennan was the quarterback slinging 2,000 touchdowns in a season. The run-and-shoot is back in fashion on the islands, with quarterback Cole McDonald at the helm of one of the most potent offenses in the entire FBS.
Hawaii is averaging 48 points per game – the Rainbow Warriors scored 59 against the Mids – while McDonald leads the nation with 1,165 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. That last stat comes with a little bit of a caveat as Hawaii has played three games already, while most other squads have played just two.
That being said, this is an offense that is proving very difficult to slow down. Hawaii likes to spread out opponents with receiver heavy sets and McDonald has the green light to look deep on every play. Army likes to employ a bend-but-don’t-break defense, a style of defense that will be severely tested this week.
Use the kickoff time as an advantage
It is hard for schools to go and play in Hawaii. The jetlag, the unfamiliar surroundings, and the time of kickoff is all foreign to players that spend their college years on the mainland. The same though is true for Hawaii when they play in the contiguous 48, with trips to the east coast being particularly brutal.
The game on Saturday is scheduled to kick off at 6 am Hawaii time. This gives Army as the home team a massive advantage. There is just no way to fully acclimatize for a kickoff time like that in just a few days so Jeff Monken would be wise to run the ball hard at the Hawaii defense early, setting the tone and testing their readiness to play.
No more penalties
Army has been unusually sloppy so far in 2018. Monken seemed to have ironed out all the issues in that regard over the last two seasons, but the Black Knights are suffering from a lack of focus at times.
Army committed seven penalties in the first half against Liberty, a number almost unheard of for a service academy football team. The Black Knights could get away with those mistakes against an FCS foe, but McDonald will kill Army if he is given extra chances with the ball and if Army extends Hawaii drives by making silly mistakes.