Army has won 30 games the past five seasons, with bowl trips. Jeff Monken has stolen the thunder of rival Navy, who owned the Black Knights for much of the past 20 seasons, and has 11 Commander in Chief Trophies to prove it since 2003. One key annual goal for Army is winning and keeping that Commander-in=Chief's Trophy away from Navy and Air Force — but the most important thing: Beating Navy on Dec. 9 in Foxborough, Mass.
ARMY 2023 PREVIEW
THE CONF.: Independent
2022 RECORD: 6-6
CONF. FINISH: N/A.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Monken (64-49, 10th year; 102-65, 14th year - includes stint with Georgia Southern)
ALL-STAR CANDIDATES: Leo Lowin, Sr./LB (106 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INTs); Tyson Riley, Sr./RB (443 yards rushing, 2 TDs); Isaiah Alston, Jr./WR (269 yards receiving); Connor Finucane, Jr./OG (25 starts the past two seasons).
Army is in much the same situation as rival Air Force: Both are loaded with returning starters. The Black Knights of the Hudson return an impressive 17 starters out of 22 on both sides of the ball off a team that finished 6-6 and beat Navy in two overtimes. The only problem is, in the option attack — the quarterback position is beyond pivotal. That's an area to take a long look at because there's very little experience returning.
Leading rusher Tyheir Tyson was one of three quarterbacks who rotated in 2022, but he's gone. Somebody special must emerge. Could it be junior Bryson Daily? There are skill weapons back on offense though (Tyson Riley and big man Jakobi Buchanan being two), and four of five starting linemen are back, too. On defense, the program gave up only 22.5 points per game, and return leading tackler Leo Lowin, and three out of four top tacklers overall.
This isn't a unit that is going to have loads of negative yardage plays, but they're disciplined and can drive opponents nuts — with the offense providing a big assist due to it holding on to the ball for long stretches of the game, denying opponents offensive reps.
Head coach Monken is a proven winner, but this schedule is brutal.
THE KEY GAME AND WHY
This is super easy — Navy on Dec. 9 in Foxborough, Mass. And you can repeat this until rapture. These two programs want to win this game, and then as the saying goes: They will be brothers in arms afterwards. This goes back to the days of President Eisenhower, and Generals McArthur, Patton, and President Carter and Admiral Nimitz. It has been that way for more than a century. Commander-in-Chief's Trophy defending champion Air Force on November in Denver is a close second to the Navy game. Army won the Trophy in 2020, as well as 2017 and 2018.
THE TOUGHEST GAME AND WHY
The trip to LSU on Oct. 21 seems a bit "uphill". Yes, Army beat Missouri in a bowl game in the past few seasons, but going to LSU and winning is a different kind of SEC challenge. Will Army give LSU fits for awhile? Possibly, if the Black Knights don't turn the ball over early (they don't have a comeback style of offense). But if Army's misdirection on offense chokes the clock? That could make for an interesting first half and maybe beyond — but there's no way Army beats LSU in Baton Rouge.
THE CHANCES OF MAKING CONF. TITLE GAME
Easy answer: None. Army is one of the few FBS independents these days.
Army will begin 2-0 after beating Louisiana-Monroe on the road and pummeling FCS Delaware State at West Point in week two. Then it gets significantly harder with consecutive games against Group of Five monster UTSA, a road trip to P5 Syracuse, and a home game against P5 Boston College. Then there's another game against another G5 monster in Troy, and after that? The trip to LSU.
The wins? Aside from the first two? UMass, is a near lock, but FCS Holy Cross is very, very good right now even though usually it should be a guaranteed win. And Coastal Carolina is no slouch. Then there's the service academy games against Air Force and Navy — which are always coinflips. It seems like another .500 type season, so Army needs to beat the academies and knock off somebody that nobody is expecting it to beat to get back to a bowl game — and there's no way the Black Knights reach nine wins like they did in 2020 and 2021.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.