Army hosts FCS foe Lafayette; home winning streak at 11
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Army coach Jeff Monken scoffed at the notion his Black Knights could face a trap game.
“We’re not a good enough football team to let down against anybody,” Monken said. “Our guys understand what needs to be done. We’ve got to continue to strive to be as close to perfect as we can.”
Army (7-2) matched a school record last year with 10 wins and is on track to reach double figures again behind its triple option. The Black Knights are averaging 306.6 yards rushing a game, second nationally, as they get set to play Championship Subdivision (FCS) foe Lafayette (3-6) on Saturday at Michie Stadium.
“Army presents some unique situations because of the style of their offense,” Lafayette coach John Garrett said. “You’ve got to create a situation where you just build a wall and limit the space that they can run. That’s what we’ll try to do.”
The Black Knights edged service academy rival Air Force 17-14 in an emotion-packed victory last week that kept the coveted Commander in Chief’s Trophy at West Point for a second straight year. Army has won five in a row since an overtime loss at then-No. 5 Oklahoma and has won 11 straight at home.
Lafayette has struggled this season. The Leopards are averaging just 14.1 points per game and allowing more than double that at 28.7.
Monken isn’t taking anything for granted.
“They (fans) don’t realize the ability level they (the Leopards) have,” Monken said. “They’re the same guys we’re playing with. It’s a lot closer than people realize from FBS to FCS. We’re going to have to play our best. That’s a fact.”
Lafayette is one of two FCS teams on this year’s Army schedule, and playing teams at Division I’s second level can pose problems.
“You have to practice against several different defenses, and it’s hard to zero in on attacking one type of front against their coverages,” Monken said. “That makes it really difficult. Frankly, we have no idea what they’re going to line up in on defense. We have no film of them playing against option teams.
“They’ve (also) just done so many different things offensively,” Monken added. “They’re very aggressive with the way they play. Often times, when teams are that multiple and you’re not sure what you’re going to get, it almost forces you to back off the gas a little bit and be more conservative.”
Other things to know when Army hosts Lafayette at Michie Stadium on Saturday:
In honor of Veterans Day, Lafayette will be wearing special decals on its helmets to honor the military. Members of the team were asked to choose someone close to them who has served or is serving in the military. Players then supplied photos, which have been incorporated into the L on the helmets.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Garrett said. “It’s a great place to play.”
Army QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. and FB Darnell Woolfolk are leading the team with 671 and 665 yards rushing, respectively. Woolfolk tops the team with nine TDs, one more than his backfield mate.
Both teams have displayed discipline when it comes to penalties. The Leopards are averaging 4.2 penalties per game, fifth in the nation, for 38 yards per game, second nationally. Lafayette was not called for a penalty against Monmouth in mid-September, the first time it’s been penalty-free in a game since November 2006 against Lehigh. Army has been penalized 44 times for 446 yards, an average of 49.5 yards and 4.9 penalties per game. The latter figure is tied for 20th in FBS.
HELLO OLD FRIENDS
Lafayette defensive coordinator Luke Thompson was on the Army staff in charge of special teams under former coach Rich Ellerson. And Leopards DL Harrison Greenhill spent the 2017-18 school year at West Point before transferring to Lafayette and has started eight of nine games this season, racking up 37 tackles and six tackles for a loss. Greenhill also got involved in the offense in a loss last week to Holy Cross, converting a fourth-and-3 near midfield with a 26-yard run off a fake punt. It was the first carry of his career.
RUNNING THE TABLE
Army leads the series with Lafayette 18-1 and has won 17 straight. The lone victory by the Leopards came during the 1940 season, a 19-0 triumph at Michie Stadium, site of every game in the series. Army won the first game between the schools, 36-0 in 1893.