WEST POINT, NY
The Army is at the end of a two-game streak as hard as it gets for a service academy.
The Black Knights (4-2) host No. 16 Wake Forest (6-0) on Saturday, a week after dropping six points to Wisconsin in a game decided by a late army turn-over.
The Demon Deacons are just the third ranked team this century to make it to West Point, and despite the 20-14 loss to the Badgers, Army coach Jeff Monken liked what he saw in second. period in a hostile environment.
“Measuring against a team like Wisconsin is really encouraging for our football team, and knowing that we really had a chance to win the football game, I think it was positive,” said Monken. “I think it’s really positive that our guys, they don’t see it as a moral victory. They were very disappointed. They fully intended and expected to win the game. Our guys were pissed that we couldn’t find a way.
Wake Forest is coming off a week off with the program’s first 6-0 record since 1944 – nine years before the Atlantic Coast Conference was formed – and its first 4-0 start in the ACC.
The Demon Deacons just picked up an overtime victory in Syracuse that ended with AT Perry’s 22-yard score to cap a three-TD day. It was the second game this year they had won by a late score, coming back to a home victory over Louisville on a field goal.
Wake Forest finds itself at the top of a much more open league race than usual, with reigning six-time champion Clemson stumbling across North Carolina state and looking nothing like the offensive machine of recent years.
Coach Dave Clawson said the Demon Deacons are enjoying the moment but not getting lost. Defensive lineman Miles Fox felt the same over the open weekend.
“Usually it’s the younger guys who mess around a bit, get complacent,” Fox said. “But everyone’s locked up and we’re in a really good place right now.”
The Army’s triple option averages 295 rushing yards per game, second nationally, and works with more than a quarterback. Against Wisconsin it was Tyhier Tyler and Jabari Laws; for Wake Forest, Tyler and Christian Anderson get the green light.
“Using more than a quarter is a good thing,” said offensive coordinator Brent Davis. “The guys have a chance to come over to the side and watch what happens, so when it’s their turn to come in, they can kind of get into the flow of the game.”
Said Laws: “It’s a unique watch room. You won’t get that anywhere else in the country. We feed off each other’s energy.
The Demon Deacons could get a boost with the return of defensive back Nasir Greer, who hasn’t played since the Sept. 18 win over Florida State due to injury. Clawson said the plan was for Greer to travel for the game and dress, although his decision to play may be a decision during the game.
Playing at home seemed like a magic elixir for the Black Knights. They have won 13 straight games at Michie Stadium. It’s family weekend and the academy says the stadium is full.
“I’m happy to be playing at home and not having to travel,” said Monken. “I hope it will be a benefit for us.”
The Demon Deacons are again among the best at avoiding self-inflicted mistakes. Wake Forest is tied for fifth in the Bowl subdivision in turnover margin at plus-8, as well as in the FBS top 20 for the fewest penalties and yards per game. The army has committed just four turnovers and leads the nation with the fewest penalties (21).
Clawson said Wake Forest started preparing the Army’s plan a little earlier than a typical opponent, saying his team spent about half the time on the Army and the other half on the fundamentals for improve depth.
“I think our team was physically tired, emotionally tired,” Clawson said. “It was a good time for a week off. We were able to regain health.
AP Sports writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, NC contributed to this report.