In 2021, for the first time ever, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Army Black Knights will play each other in football. Since UW is opening the season with a Big Ten game, this non-conference matchup will take place on Oct. 16, right in the middle of conference play.
Since UW has never played the Black Knights we, uh, really didn’t have much of a frame of reference for the team and reached out to our pal Mitchell Northam who is the editor over at Against All Enemies, the SB Nation blog that covers all of the service academies. He dropped some triple option knowledge on us, for which we are thankful.
*nephew opens birthday present*— Mitchell Northam (@primetimeMitch) July 26, 2021
my entire family: “it’s baby yoda!”
me: “HIS NAME IS GROGU.”
Here is what Mitchell had to say about Army...I think navybadger will really like the answer to the last question.
Who is your player to watch on offense?
For most teams — especially those that run the option — the easy answer here is to point at the guy under center. But I have no idea who Army’s starting quarterback is going to be this season. Jabari Laws is back after missing all of last season, but so is fifth year senior Christian Anderson and fellow senior Tyhier Tyler, each of whom saw significant playing time last year. Cade Ballard and Jemel Jones also played in spurts last season and could be in the mix too. Tyler might have the upper hand, considering he guided Army in its last three games of 2020 — wins over Navy and Air Force, and a bowl loss to West Virginia.
Setting the quarterback position aside, I would advise opposing defenses to pay attention to Tyrell Robinson. Last season, as a 5-foot-9 freshman, he showed tons of potential and big play-making ability. He averaged 8.2 yards per-touch last season and caught a pair of touchdown passes. Against Abilene Christian (yes, an FCS school, but stay with me) he rushed for 126 yards on seven carries. He’s also proven to be frisky in the return game. Robinson is a player defenses can’t ignore.
Who is your player to watch on defense?
Arik Smith is likely to pile up tackles for Army, but the guy opposing quarterbacks can’t get careless with the ball around is Jabari Moore. A junior this season, Moore has proven himself as a game changer and a disruptor at cornerback.
He had two picks, three pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and three tackle-for-losses last season. More importantly, he had two defensive touchdowns, running back a fumble and a pick for scores. Moore has a nose for the ball and a knack for stepping up in big moments.
Why will Army beat Wisconsin this year?
Army will most likely not beat Wisconsin this year. But the recipes for a potential disaster for Badgers’ fans are out there. All you have to do is look at the box scores from the game Army played against Oklahoma in 2018, and the game the Black Knights played against Michigan in 2019. Both games went to overtime and were decided by a single possession. If Wisconsin does these things against Army, be worried:
- Allow Army’s offense to stay on the field for ridiculously long stretches (against the Sooners, the Black Knights had possession for 44:41).
- Turn the ball over (Michigan lost three fumbles to Army. That game doesn’t go to OT if the Wolverines hang on to the ball).
The other thing is, you can’t allow Army to play near-perfect football. Jeff Monken’s side is usually among the leaders in college football for the least amount of penalties committed. But against Oklahoma and Michigan, the Black Knights had more penalty yards. Army also turned the ball over twice against the Sooners, and three times against the Wolverines. And the Black Knights still almost won.
God, isn’t Navy just the worst?
I guess I’ll just put my cards on the table here. As the son of a 20-year Navy veteran, I am contractually obligated to say: “GO NAVY. BEAT ARMY.” Best of luck, Badgers.