Army faces Miami of Ohio at Michie Stadium
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Miami of Ohio coach Chuck Martin isn’t exactly looking forward to playing Army at Michie Stadium.
Call it the fear of the triple option.
“It’s a nightmare to try to defend,” Martin said. “It’s certainly a nightmare to try to defend for one week. There’s nothing you can throw at them that they haven’t seen. If you try to do a few different things (defensively), they’re used to it. They’ve seen every front, every gimmick, every pressure. It’s what they do. They laugh.”
Army (4-2) is coming off its second straight dominating road victory, having excelled on both sides of the ball. The Black Knights scored 52 straight points in defeating San Jose State 52-3 last week and the previous Saturday handed Mid-American Conference foe Buffalo its first loss, 42-13.
“The defense made a big difference in the game on Saturday to hold those guys to three points,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “The last time out they scored 30 points in one quarter against Colorado State. I thought our guys did a really good job of slowing them down, putting pressure on them, making them get rid of the ball and making plays when the ball was in the air.”
Army’s success on offense stems from the effectiveness of the option, which is averaging 313.5 yards on the ground, tops the nation in possession time at just under 40 minutes a game, and scoring 32.5 points a game. A typical outing for the Black Knights — 65 rushes and about nine passes to keep defenses guessing. Toss in the fact that the Redhawks are fresh from a 31-6 win over Kent State and its uptempo offense and it’s easy to understand Martin’s concern.
“You talk about ends of the spectrum,” Martin said. “Kent State is going warp speed, the field is crazy spread, and then there’s Army. It’s rugby. It’s really no fun, but at least I understand why it’s no fun.”
Other things to know when Miami of Ohio visits Army on Saturday:
QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. has become Army’s go-to guy on offense. He’s averaging 82.7 yards rushing per game and has a team-high seven TDs. More importantly, the offense has not lost a fumble since the season-opener at Duke.
“He’s run the ball a lot more physically and probably a lot more effectively than I thought he would at this point in the season. It’s something that we ask our quarterbacks to do a lot of, and I assumed that he’d improve as he played more and more,” Monken said. “But he’s really shown some toughness and the ability to run out of tackles, and that’s been encouraging for us and has helped our offense move the ball.”
Hopkins also has thrown for 605 yards and four TDs with three interceptions, two coming in an overtime loss at then-No. 5 Oklahoma.
HOME SWEET HOME
Army has won nine straight at Michie Stadium. The last home loss was to service-academy rival Air Force in November 2016.
“I think just to dress in our own locker room and play in front of our own crowd and play in front of the Corps of Cadets is really special for us,” Monken said. “They’ve worked really hard the last few years to get this program to a level that we can be proud of, that represents this academy the way it should be represented.”
Miami has scored 149 points in its last four games, surpassing 30 in each. The last time the Redhawks accomplished that was in 2003, when Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback.
Miami is 3-2 all-time against Army and broke the tie in the series with a 35-28 victory seven years ago at Oxford, Ohio. The Redhawks also won 38-14 in 1997 and 14-13 in 1998, both victories coming at Michie Stadium. The series began in 1960 with a 30-7 Army win at home under Dale Hall, two years after he succeeded the great Earl “Red” Blaik as head coach of the Black Knights. Blaik played at Miami from 1915-17 and later coached the Redhawks for two seasons, eventually taking over at West Point in 1941 where he built a powerhouse that won two national championships.