After disappointing games against Coastal Carolina and UTSA to open the season, Army finally got its first win two weeks ago Villanova. The cadets have had two weeks to build on that win and get ready for a tough middle portion of their 2022 season.
That portion of the season begins Saturday as Army hosts Georgia State. This will be the Panthers’ first ever visit to West Point. Army had a lot to address in the bye week, most importantly getting healthy, focusing on the basics on offense, and shoring up their tackling on defense.
Scouting Report: Army Hosts Georgia State
Match-Up: Georgia State at Army
Time: 12:00 ET
Current Odds: Army -7.5, O/U 54
As much as Army seems to be moving in the right direction, Georgia State seems to be equally moving in the wrong direction. After playing competitive games against South Carolina and North Carolina in the first two weeks of the season, the Panthers lost to an under-performing Charlotte team and Coastal Carolina in the last two weeks.
While Army coach Jeff Monken was effusive with praise in his Monday press conference, the Panthers haven’t been able to get their offense in rhythm in the early season. Quarterback Darren Grainger‘s 52% completion rate is down eight percentage points from last season. Grainger has thrown interceptions in some absolutely critical situations this season as well. Without consistency in the passing game, the Panthers haven’t been able to capitalize on a fairly effective run game.
In many ways, Georgia State’s offense is similar to UTSA’s. Much like UTSA’s Frank Harris, Grainger is also a key component of the Panther ground game. He has the second most rushing attempts of any Panthers offensive back.
The Panthers’ defensive statistics are a bit deceiving. They are giving up over 38 points per game, but they’ve played three teams with top-tier quarterbacks. And those quarterbacks have thrown the ball well against Georgia State. Opponent signal callers are averaging 295 yards a game against the Panther defense.
Their run defense is only slightly better. The Panthers are giving up 158 yards on 37 carries. Expect Army to exploit their hybrid 3-4 defense, especially an undersized noseguard in Thomas Gore, and establish an effective run game.
While the Panthers return 8 starters on defense, their familiarity likely won’t help them too much. Every team Army plays knows what Army is going to do and only a select few are able to stop the ground game.
Speaking of the Army ground game, a growing injury list was the biggest concern going into the bye week. Monken didn’t update the media on specific injuries on Monday when asked about starting B-Back Jakobi Buchanan, but Buchanan is listed on this week’s depth chart. Monken said that the Black Knights were able to get a little healthier over the bye week, but said they suffered some undisclosed injuries during practice this week as well.
It’ll be interesting to see who comes out for the start on the offensive line and at B-Back for Army on Sunday.
Depth In The Backfield
Regardless of Buchanan’s health status, Army still needs to develop depth at B-Back. Behind Buchanan and Tyson Riley, freshman Hayden Reed has secured the third spot, but beyond that none of Army’s other B-Backs have staked their claim on the depth chart. If Buchanan can’t go on Saturday, Army is one play away from having almost no experience at the most important position on offense, save the quarterback.
Speaking of the quarterback, Monken has utilized both Tyhier Tyler and Cade Ballard this season. Tyler got the preponderance of snaps against Villanova and will start against Georgia State. Has he secured the quarterback position, or will Monken continue to utilize a rotation under center? Monken also talked about Bryson Daily‘s development as well, calling him “our future at that position.”
Getting The Defense Going
For Army to have success against Georgia State, the defense must get going. The Knights defense has been a typical Nate Woody aggressive unit this season but has struggled to finish plays, especially in the run defense. Georgia State has some talent on offense; it’ll be critical for Army to prevent the Panthers from putting together drives early and gaining confidence. Putting the game on Grainger’s arm, unleashing Andre Carter, and allowing Marquel Broughton and the Army secondary a chance to hunt the ball is likely a recipe for success on Saturday.
The Last Word
Army is back to doing what Army does best. Even thin at some key positions, Army continues its forward march. Georgia State, in their first visit to the Hudson Valley, sputters and continues their sluggish offensive play.
Georgia State 24