Army practiced through an emotional week following the loss of sophomore starting cornerback Brandon Jackson in a car accident Sunday.
Will the Black Knights rally around each other in their first of three straight road games at UTEP Saturday night.
Coach Jeff Monken said throughout the week that he expects his team to respond and play hard like it has in Army’s first two wins this season.
Expect Army to come out with the same if not more intensity against the Miners (1-1).
Captain Jeremy Timpf said Wednesday that the team is on a mission this season and Jackson is a part of mission. The mission is to bring winning football back to West Point.
Timpf and captain Andrew King have led a defense, which has allowed just one touchdown in the second half this season. Story here.
Freshman Elijah Riley or sophomore Michael Reynolds (interception, fumble recovery this season) will start at cornerback opposite sophomore Marcus Hyatt.
UTEP has one of the nation’s best running backs in Aaron Jones. Jones rushed for 114 yards in the first half against No. 11 Texas last week. Army safeties Rhyan England and Xavier Moss will be counted on to help slow down Jones and they must be ready for play-action. Zack Greenlee, a Fresno State transfer, is a capable passer.
Army’s offense has scored eight touchdowns this season. Four of those drives have taken 12 or more plays and 5 minutes and 32 seconds or more off the clock.
Army is a 3.5-point road favorite in the first meeting between the teams.
Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 35, UTEP 24. Army has won its first two games with solid defense and efficient, turnover-free offense led by sophomore fullback Andy Davidson. Expect more of the same here. Army’s ability to continue drives and convert on third down could be the difference.
Predictions from around the college football universe
Dave Miller (Campus Insiders): Army 31, UTEP 30. Miller says on campusinsiders.com, “This Black Knights offensive express is hot and chugging along, and there’s no reason to believe that UTEP has made enough substantial defensive improvements to contain Monken’s offense. This is the first of three straight road tests for Army. The Black Knights will pass the first exam in a game that goes down to the wire.”
Pete Fiutak (collegefootballnews.com): Army 27, UTEP 20
The Power Rank: Army has 81 percent chance of winning
Alex Nicolas (Miner Rush, SB Nation): Army 24, UTEP 22. Nicolas says on MinerRush.com, “Both teams will slug it out and play hard, but I just feel Army’s defense, and their ability to limit possessions is the difference.”