In case you missed it, SBNation launched a community devoted the the service academies this year.
The smartly named “Against All Enemies” site covers the Army (Independant), Navy (AAC), and Air Force (MWC). Nicholas Carr was good enough to step up and answer some of the questions I have about this game, and the Army / UB relationship in general.
BR) How do you feel about this ongoing UB vs Army series? After this game there is one left on the existing set of contracts (2020 at West Point). Would you be in favor of UBAD Mark Alnutt and AAD Boo Corrigan setting up another 2:2 or 3:3 deal?
NC) Absolutely. Going forward, the only home/home set up with nearby schools is a 10 year deal with UMass, and as much as the trip to Foxboro or Amherst is, playing Buffalo keeps the game in-state and gives Army the opportunity to face an exciting MAC team that features one of the most intriguing coaches in FBS.
BR) To the game, how much confidence does taking the Sooners to the brink instill in you for this weeks game? Do you see anything different about Buffalo that gives you pause?
NC) I don’t think the team lacks for confidence, but as Jeff Monken said after the hard-fought game in Norman, losses stink. He wasn’t one for moral victories, and I don’t believe the team will be either. The ability to use a game like Oklahoma as motivation moving forward is how Jeff Monken has turned this program around. With regards to Buffalo, I think the same game plan is going to be utilized by Army. Buffalo has playmakers all over the offense, and I think keeping the ball out of their hands and controlling the amount of possessions will be critical.
BR) Army threw a lot more vs Oklahoma than they usually do, is this a new wrinkle that Jeff Monken is bringing to Army or just something which happened due to the flow of the game.
NC) I think earlier in the season it was more of an added benefit, but in the Oklahoma game it became a necessary evil. Oklahoma isn’t known for their defense, but they’re still big and fast and feature a future first-rounder in the middle at linebacker. In the course of a game like that, Army found itself behind the chains some and needed their quarterback to make them some plays. I think that ability to drop back and catch the linebackers cheating up gives the Army offense a nice wrinkle as it faces a Buffalo defense that does well keeping teams from getting explosive plays on the ground.
BR) I Believe the key to UB winning is to not make stupid mistakes, the are that worries me the most in that regard is special teams. Where, if anywhere, do you think Army might make a mental mistake?
NC) It probably goes without saying Army is a well-disciplined team, but one that commits more penalties than you might think.
Also, Army is -3 in the turnover battle in their two losses and +3 in their two wins. In a game with likely less than 10 drives for each team, losing multiple possessions to a turnover is a recipe for disaster.
BR) Whats the key to beating the Army defense?
NC) It helps if you have a quarterback like Kyler Murray. All too many times last Saturday the Oklahoma offense torched Army with their speed and ability to get to the edge. OU only scored 28 points, but their scoring drives came quick. The Sooners had 17 plays of 10+ yards on the day, and they only ran 40 plays, so giving up yards in chunks was the Achilles Heel for Army.
Lance Leipold is building something special in Buffalo, but give me the points in a 31-27 win for the Bulls.