September 12, 2012

Army vs. NIU: Five Keys To The Game

With the 2012 season home opener just 3 days away from kickoff, the Army faithful are yearning to see if their Black Knights can shake-off last weekend's disaster against San Diego State and deliver what many had projected ... a winning season.

Here are 5 things that GoBlackKnights.com believes must happen in order for Army to be successful against visiting Northern Illinois on Saturday.

#1 - Leadership

For an institution who's mission is based on developing leaders, it was this quality (leadership) that appeared to missing, at least emotionally and verbally when the wall begin crumbling down against San Diego State. There were some signs of aspiring leaders through the play of players like Nate Combs. However, it almost appeared as if the players, along with the coaches were shell shocked. Or as Head Coach Rich Ellerson stated afterwards, "I was stunned". Being stunned as a team and/or as a coaching staff the first quarter or even the first half is one thing, but this team is laced with too many seasoned players and coaches to be stunned for the length of an entire ballgame. Someone must step and answer the bell as a leader for this ball club ... not when only when things are going well, but moments in a contest where the team may find it's back against the wall.

#2 - Assigned Play

This defense can not afford for players to freelance and play outside of the scheme and/or their direct responsibilities within the Double Eagle Flex. Yes, both defensive tackles Mike Ugenyi and Bobby Kough were getting their collegiate feet wet. However, going into Saturday's contest against a solid NIU offensive front line, both players are going to have to designate the SDSU as their signature "rookie" game and maturate quickly or it could be another long day defensively for the Black Knights. As the interior of the defensive line goes, so goes the "D" altogether.

#3 - 2010 Formula

Two noticeable components that separate the success of 2010 from below average 2011 season and the first game in 2012. First is the offense's time of possession (tops in the nation) and secondly, the ability to hold onto the ball. It is imperative for the Black Knights' offense to maintain control of both the ball and the clock in order for Army to be successful on Saturday. The T.O.P. not only serves as a measurement of success offensively, but allows the Black Knights to keep the Huskies off the field offensively and such strategy has proven to be another defensive of weapon, if you will.

#4 - Wide Receiver

At wide receiver, the Black Knights need a playmaker and with the lineup against SDSU last weekend, it did not exist. Hence, Army fans are hoping and praying that senior Malcolm Brown will be given clearance to play against Northern Illinois this weekend. Brown's presence has to be accounted for by opponents and puts pressure on any defense to not play 8 men in the box. Of course Brown's biggest attribute is his ability to make things happen once he gets his hands on the ball, something that is missing with the current crop of receivers.

#5 - The Army Fans

This one falls on the Army faithful. Sometimes you wonder if the Army fans are there to just observe one of the historical sites while being on the West Point campus. Whereby they just happen to be passing Michie Stadium during their campus tour and there was a college football game taking place. Yes, everyone wants a winning product on the field, but part of being a fan is assisting in creating an atmosphere that allows the Black Knights to truly feel they are at home and in this case, NIU to know for sure that they are playing on the road ... the road called, Michie Stadium.

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