Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 3:00 PM EST
Radio: Westwood One // ESPNU Radio on SIRIUSXM (Channel 84)
Location: Gillete Stadium - Foxborough, Massachusetts
Betting Line: Army -3, O/U 27.5
Army Black Knights
There’s been a bit of a learning curve for 5-6 Army this season under new offensive coordinator Drew Thatcher. The basic idea of Thatcher’s offense, is that while many of the core principles of the traditional triple-option are still there, there’s more shotgun formations and downfield pass plays, putting more pressure on quarterbacks Bryson Daily and Champ Harris.
However, in the three-game win streak that Army went on to end the regular season, they also reverted to more under-center formations, keeping opponents on their toes. In those three games, they’re averaging 4.99 yards per carry. The passing game hasn’t quite panned out, with Army’s last passing touchdown coming on October 7 in a loss to Boston College.
Defensively, look for Leo Lowin to be an impact player once again. He’s particularly effective against run-heavy offenses. In a win against Air Force this season, Lowin had 12 total tackles with two sacks. He had 16 total tackles against Navy last year.
In their first year under Brian Newberry, the 5-6 Midshipmen have been shown some good things, but ultimately have also been inconsistent.
Offensively, look for Navy to utilize both Tai Lavatai and Xavier Arline at quarterback. Both are averaging over three yards per carry on the ground. Through the air, both can be fairly effective passers, with proper protection. Lavatai has thrown four touchdowns this season with a 53.3 completion percentage. Arline has thrown two touchdowns with a 54.8 completion percentage.
Navy have a number of playmakers on defense to watch out for, namely linebackers Colin Ramos and Will Harbour. Ramos is a factor in the run defense as well as the pass defense, defending four passes this season with 94 total tackles and eight for a loss. Harbour also has 76 total tackles, along with three sacks and 7.5 total TFLs.
Lately, Army’s track record under Jeff Monken has shown that they know how to step up in big games. 2023 may not have been the year that the West Point faithful wanted it to be, but they can win the one that really matters. Look for the experience and clutch factor of the Black Knights to factor in to what will likely be another one score game, in my opinion, in favor of the Black Knights.