After going a combined 21-5 the past two seasons, the Army West Point football team comes into Aloha Stadium tomorrow night with a disappointing 5-6 record. But that doesn’t mean the Black Knights aren’t a dangerous team. Sure, they lost back to back games against Western Kentucky and Georgia State earlier in the year. But they also took Michigan to overtime in the Big House.
Here are FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors to beat Army and advance to the Mountain West Conference championship game with continued momentum.
1. STAY FOCUSED. With the MW title on the line next Saturday, it would be easy for the Rainbow Warriors to look past Army. Hawaii has already qualified for a bowl game, making tomorrow night’s contest against the Black Knights seem even more nondescript. For Army, however, beating UH will mean becoming bowl eligible. Thus, the incentive advantage goes to the Black Knights. Expect them to come out inspired. Hawaii will have to stay focused and withstand Army’s early push.
2. CONTAIN THE GROUND GAME. Army ranks third in the country in rushing offense, averaging 302.6 yards per game. Air Force, which has the nation’s second-best ground game (304.4), pounded Hawaii earlier this year in Halawa, 56-26. The player to watch is QB Kelvin Hopkins. In Army’s most previous game, a 47-6 home victory over VMI, Hopkins rushed for a career-high 208 yards. No one expects UH to shut down Army’s rushing attack, but they must at least contain it. A hopeful sign: Last week against San Diego State, the Rainbow Warriors defense held the Aztecs to just 89 rushing yards.
3. BE DISCIPLINED. It’s no secret that Hawaii continues to struggle with penalties. That issue is magnified when facing a disciplined team like Army. The Black Knights have been penalized 54 times this season (449 yards). By contrast, Hawaii has been flagged 84 times (762 yards).
4. AIR IT OUT. While the Black Knights rank 11th nationally in passing defense, allowing just 178.7 yards a game, they haven’t faced a passing offense quite like Hawaii’s. Whether it’s Cole McDonald or Chevan Cordeiro taking the snaps, the Rainbow Warriors should look to take it to the air early and often.
5. NEXT MAN UP. This past Tuesday on “Call the Coach presented by Coors Light,” UH head coach Nick Rolovich confirmed that injuries have hit the team hard. Standout defensive lineman Kaimana Padello will miss the remainder of the season. Another D-lineman, Mason Vegas, is also out, as is offensive lineman JR Hensley. The team’s depth has been tested all season, and it just seems more pronounced now. Others will have to step up, and fast.
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