The 2-1 Black Knights picked up a surprisingly high quality victory last time out as they took down a Hawaii team that has been bombing the ball on opponents to start the year. A win this week against No. 5 Oklahoma would rank as one of the biggest upsets of the decade in all of college football.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Play to the strengths of the offense
It has been a minute since Oklahoma has played against a triple-option team. The Big 12 – the Sooners week to week opponent foes during the season – is about as pass happy a conference as you will find, with no team running anything even remotely resembling the scheme that Army will take will them into Norman.
This element of surprise is going to the Black Knights single biggest advantage on Saturday.
The OU defensive line is a good one, but they will not be used to the blocking tactics and schemes that Army creates. It is imperative that the Black Knights get off to a quick start of offense because Oklahoma will adapt as the game goes along, but on their first few series at least Army will have the advantage in this offense vs. defense matchup.
Dominate the time of possession the right way
There are two ways that Army will do what it does and dominate the time of possession against Oklahoma. The good way is that the Sooners offense will watch a 15 play Black Knights scoring drive before going three-and-out immediately and giving Army the ball back. Rinsing and repeating this process throughout the first half will give Army a chance.
The bad way is that Army will run its offense on Oklahoma but stall in the red zone. After hitting a field goal (at best) the Black Knights defense will then give up a couple of chunk plays and Oklahoma will score almost in an instant. Obviously this would be a back thing.
Army has owned the time of possession, owning the ball for an average of over 40 minutes a game. Something similar here – combined with the OU offense spluttering – would put Army in position for an upset.
Win the turnover battle
Objectively there is no one that can argue that Army is the better team on paper here. Thus – as the road underdog especially – the goal of Jeff Monken and his coaching staff will be to create four or five extra possessions over the course of the game. While a good special teams display will go some way towards achieving this goal, the best way to find extra possessions is through turnovers.
Army has to take the ball off of Kyler Murray and the Oklahoma offense, while Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins has to be precise on every handoff, pitch, and throw. It is through the air where Hopkins has been a revelation, but in the Oklahoma secondary he will be facing players with unique levels of athleticism and speed. Passing windows will close quickly, and Hopkins can’t afford to make a single mistake.