Army has concerns about its air attack in matchup at Tulane
By LES EAST
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Army's running game is Tulane's biggest concern.
But the Black Knights' passing game is on Army coach Jeff Monken's mind going into these teams' nonconference game Saturday in New Orleans.
"We're not going to survive getting 3 yards here and 3 yards there the entire season," Monken said this week. "There's going to be some times where we have to get a chunk of yards in one play. Some of those are going to have to come from passing plays, and I think we need to be more efficient when we throw the ball."
The Black Knights (2-1) have thrown just 18 passes this season, completing four for 36 yards. They won their season opener despite not completing either of the passes Ahmad Bradshaw threw.
Bradshaw, though, is the 10th-leading rusher in the country (374 yards) and is averaging 124.7 yards rushing per game and 7.1 yards per carry. He has rushed for three touchdowns.
As good as Bradshaw's running has been, a little more balance would help.
"Until we get a guy that runs tough and runs hard and can throw the ball, maybe we won't throw as much," Monken said.
Army leads the nation in rushing with an average of 364.7 yards per game.
"We just know we've got to attack it, and that's the only way you can play," Tulane senior linebacker Luke Jackson said of the Black Knights' rushing game. "You can't sit back.
The Green Wave (1-2) run an under-center, triple-option attack similar to the Black Knights', but they throw the ball more often. Tulane has completed 24-of-40 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
"Our bread and butter is that inside zone on offense," Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. "If we can run that successfully, the rest of the offense will go."
Some other things to watch in the Army-Tulane matchup on Saturday:
TOP 10 TESTED: Both teams are coming off games against top 10 teams. Army lost at No. 8 Ohio State 38-7 and Tulane lost at No. 2 Oklahoma, 56-14. The Black Knights' touchdown came on a record-tying 99-yard drive and the Green Wave had leads of 7-0 and 14-7 as they rushed for 117 yards in the first quarter. Army and Tulane both appeared to wear down against their heavily favored competition in the second half.
LONG-DRIVES: In the last two games, Army has had three scoring drives of at least 13 plays - an 18-play drive against Ohio State and drives of 16 and 13 plays against Buffalo. All three drives ended with Darnell Woolfolk rushing for a touchdown.
RED-ZONE EFFICIENCY: Technically, Army and Tulane are as efficient as any team in the nation in terms of red-zone scoring, having scored on each of their trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line. Army has 10 touchdowns and a field goal after entering the red zone, while Tulane has six TDs and a field goal.
BACK UNDER CENTER: Tulane QB Jonathan Banks sat out last week's game because of an unspecified injury. He returned to practice this week and the Green Wave expects the junior to play against Army. Sophomore Johnathan Brantley started against Oklahoma and rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. He also completed 5-of-9 passes for 43 yards and an interception.
FAMILIAR SYSTEM: Tulane's defense is playing Army just two weeks after it faced a very similar offense when it took on Navy. The Green Wave lost 23-21, but held the Midshipmen to 194 yards rushing, making eight tackles for loss and having five players make at least seven tackles. As members of the American Athletic Conference, Tulane and Navy face each other each season. "The live action helps a bunch," senior linebacker Luke Jackson said. "No matter how good the scout team does for us, they can't give us a realistic look. It's so much faster. I think there were a few plays that we had some weak spots on that we're trying to get corrected."
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Updated September 22, 2017