Sunday, May 19, 2024

Army Football Preview: 2023 Season Preview (Q4)

Well friends, we’ve made it to week four As for footballArmy Football Season 2023 Preview After what we hope is a fast start leading to a successful midseason run, your Army Black Knights will look to finish strong with home games against Patriot League foe Holy Cross and Sun Belt powerhouse Coastal Carolina, as well as the stinkers. Squids from Boat School.

In case you missed any of our other articles in this series, they are archived below:

— Army Football Preview: 2023 Season Preview (First Quarter)
— Army Football Preview: 2023 Season Preview (Second Quarter)
— Army football preview: 2023 season preview (third quarter)

2023 Season Preview: Fourth Quarter

Week 12: Holy Crusaders

2022 Record: 12-1 (6-0 in Patriot League; PL Champs)
SP+: N/A
FPI: N/A

Holy Cross went a remarkable 11-0 during the regular season last year, then won a playoff game to advance to the FCS Championship semifinals. QB Matthew Sluka went 153/266 passing for 2,491 yards (57.5%) and an impressive 26 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions, though he also took a total of *26* sacks. The Crusaders run a super read-option offense, meaning Sluka also led the team in rushing — both overall and on a per-carry basis — with 203 carries for 1,234 yards (6.1 yards/carry) and 11 touchdowns. speed. This man did it all!

Patriot League teams haven’t always had the easiest time in the world staying at the top of the League for whatever reason, but this team was LOT well last year, and they return many of the pieces that made them successful. That should make them favorites to win the league again in 2023, assuming Sluka can stay healthy.

Projected line: N/A

Army tends to schedule the types of FCS games that most teams try to avoid. This should be just that type of game, too, with a strong running team that’s also good at stopping the run heading to Michie Stadium looking to make a statement. This remains a game that the Black Knights MUST wins, although it comes off the back of a difficult stretch in the overall plan.

We’ll all be very nervous going into this, I’m sure.

Week 13: Coastal Carolina Singers

2022 record: 9-4 (6-2 in the East; lost to ECU in the Birmingham Bowl)
SP+: -4.6 (75)
FPI: -4.3 (83)

Of all the teams on the schedule this year, Coast might be the hardest to predict. Former coach Jamey Chadwell built the program into a monster, but now he’s headed to Liberty, and while star QB Grayson McCall returns, the Chanticleers have lost some important pieces elsewhere. That includes their top defensive players at Michigan, their former center at North Carolina and their former safety at East Carolina. The Chants return some great skill players, but they’ll still need McCall to stay healthy and they’ll need their run defense to find a way back despite key losses.

New coach Tim Beck is expected to keep Coastal a run-heavy offense, but he’s not expected to carry the Chants’ unique version of the triple option, and it seems questionable whether he’ll let McCall get the ball on his own. . It will be interesting, then, to see how the team takes this change. McCall has been an incredibly accurate passer – 70% completion percentage! — but this was no doubt helped by the Chants scheme. That number could decrease if the Songs pitch more as part of a more traditional spread-type scheme.

Projected Line: Army (+1.3)

Coast was a great team last year until McCall got hurt. Then the wheels came off. Coastal barely managed a win over Southern Miss in a down year and then lost its last three — badly. Friends, every year is a new year. However, I think you’d rather play Chants late in the season than early in the season, and you would LOT better play them at home. Army in particular caught these guys at exactly the wrong time last season.

Despite the hype of recent seasons, the betting line has got things right. This should be a close game.

Weeks 14 and 15: Bye Week

We are back to spend two weeks before the Army-Navy. No games scheduled for Rivalry Weekend, alas.

Week 16: Navy Squid

2022 Record: 4-8 (4-4 in the American Conference)
SP+: -11.1 (98)
FPI: -9.3 (108)

If Coast isn’t the hardest team to predict on Army’s schedule, then Navy is. The Squids have a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator, although they still have somewhat of the same quarterbacks coach.

Go figure.

Like the Army, the Navy is transitioning their offense to a hybrid shotgun approach, though unlike the Army, they are also trying to keep flexible triple elements within their base scheme. This is an interesting idea, but one wonders if there will be enough time to focus everythingor if this is going to be one of those things where the Mids almost good at many things but not very good at anything. After all, this is exactly the kind of Athletic Department that will mandate things like offensive schemes for the coaching staff. But I guess we’ll see.

Projected Line: Army (-1.5)

Whatever Navy looks like when the season opens, they’ll no doubt have their stuff together by the time we get into December. At the very least, they’ll have an outstanding rush defense and a better pass rush than you might expect, so who knows? Maybe they’ll work that short passing game too. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this, especially when it’s split time working on flexbone, but December is a long way off.

All other factors aside, expect a close game when we finally get to Boston for Army-Navy.

Bowl link: ESPN Bowl as needed

The Black Knights do not have a specific bowl tie this year. Instead, they’ll go where needed by ESPN to make the four-letter network’s overall schedule work. That’s not super exciting at this stage, but it’s also not too different from what we’ve seen over the past few years.

Additionally, the Black Knights will need to qualify for a bowl first.

Final Thoughts

Army has a tougher schedule than we’ve seen in recent years, but they also have more than a few winnable games and have every chance to finish strong. Barring something strange, the Coastal Carolina game could also see the betting line inside the gate. This is good!

Granted, we have a lot of football to play between now and the last quarter of the season. However, I think this should be remembered.

Cover image vis USMA Flickr.

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