Army hosts Rice in Michie Stadium opener
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) To start his third season at West Point, coach Jeff Monken duplicated his first game at Army - in spades.
Last week's season-opening 28-13 win over Temple at Lincoln Financial Field was a breakthrough moment of sorts for the Black Knights: it obliterated the memory of their previous game there, a 21-17 loss in December to archrival Navy that ended Army's second 2-10 season in four years; was their first win in 13 tries at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles; and it came against a team that had a breakout 10-win season in 2015.
''The thing that I was probably most pleased with was that at no point in the game did I feel that our guys lacked the confidence to win, that they were concerned or worried about what might happen next,'' Monken said.
Army will try to build on that success when it hosts Rice on Saturday at Michie Stadium. These Owls also dropped their season opener, 46-14 at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers finished with 552 yards passing and 97 rushing, amassing 649 yards. Rice failed to put pressure on quarterback Mike White and had only 288 total yards offensively in a sloppy game.
''They all tried to do more than they're capable of at times,'' Rice coach David Bailiff said. ''They just have to relax and play, and we're going to be just fine. We'll get it worked out. The great news is that it wasn't an effort thing.''
Other things to know when Rice visits Army on Saturday:
Tyler Stehling is the starting quarterback for Rice for the first time in his career. He threw for 183 yards and ran for 85 yards and a score against Western Kentucky. He also threw two interceptions and his receivers faltered badly.
''We had six drops, or he (Stehling) could have had a magnificent night,'' Bailiff said. ''We've got to eliminate those drops. Everybody is going to drop a couple, but you can't drop six.''
The Army defense enters the game with three interceptions, half its total for all of last season. The Black Knights lead the nation in turnover margin, tied with seven other schools. Last season, Army finished 113th (-0.92) in that category.
KEEP IT ON THE GROUND
The Army option gained 329 yards rushing against Temple on 67 attempts and scored four touchdowns. Monken wants to get 1,000 yards rushing from the quarterback spot, but the fullbacks starred against Temple. Andy Davidson had 121 yards on 21 carries to pace the attack.
IS THIS THE YEAR?
Army has had only one winning season - 7-6 in 2010 under Rich Ellerson - since Bob Sutton led the Black Knights to a 10-2 mark and a national ranking 20 years ago.
Rice has beaten Army five straight times, including all three meetings at West Point.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
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