Just two seasons ago, Fordham was able to best Army, 37-35, in a game in which the Black Knights were only 5.5-point favorites. It was a back and forth slugfest with both teams answering the other, but the Rams were able to hold on for the win.
Last season, Army had its best campaign in more than two decades. The Black Knights went 8-5 and won the Heart of Dallas Bowl against North Texas. However, this team wasn’t as good as you might think given its record.
Army had one of the softest schedules of any team in the FBS. The Black Knights played two bad FCS squads and also scored wins against minnows like UTEP and Rice. Yes, they secured victories against some good teams like Temple and Navy, but they also suffered embarrassing defeats at the hands of North Texas and Buffalo.
You know what the Black Knights want to do on offense. Army is a triple-option team through and through. It threw the ball just 120 times last season, and you can be sure that it will keep it on the ground as much as possible against Fordham.
That predictability is a strength for the Rams. Fordham will have a full month to prepare for how to stop Army’s triple-option attack. One of the strengths of the option is that it is such a unique offense to prepare for that is tough to pick it up with just a week to prepare. However, when you have time to specifically train and scheme against it, it becomes a lot easier to stop. Opposing defensive coordinators have said as much when facing teams like Georgia Tech and Navy over the years.
Defensively, Army will have its work cut out for it when it comes to stopping Chase Edmonds. Barring injury, Edmonds should set the FCS record for career rushing yards this season. He was dominant last year, rushing for 163.5 yards per game and averaging seven yards a carry. Opposing defenses had a hard time shutting him down, and he averaged at least 3.5 yards per rush in every game.
Edmonds is a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, too. Although Fordham didn’t throw to him much, he has averaged over 10 yards per reception the last two seasons. Army knows his skill as a receiver very well. In Fordham’s win against the academy two years ago, he caught an 87-yard pass that helped set up a score in addition to his 110 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
This defense will have to stop one of the better quarterbacks at the FCS level, too. Kevin Anderson also tore up Army’s defense back in 2015, throwing for 322 yards, and he has only improved with time. He threw for over 2,700 yards last year and finished with 27 passing touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Even with the time to prepare, where Fordham will be hard-pressed to stop Army is on the defensive end. The Black Knights return nine starters from last season and had their best offensive numbers in quite some time. Army was able to slowly move the ball down the field at four or five yards a pop and ground opposing teams down over the course of a game.
The Rams didn’t have a great run defense last season, allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Fordham has been pretty solid in pass coverage and returns three of four starters there, but the front seven is again going through an overhaul. If Fordham is going to win this game, the main thing it has to do is stop the run.
Fordham is going to try to make this game a shootout, and it should. Army has an undersized defense, and the Rams should be able to find success running the ball with Edmonds. They probably won’t be able to stop the Black Knights much, but they will need to answer score for score. The Rams offense can do that. This team is talented enough to score points on many FBS teams and hope for the best on the defensive end. Don’t be surprised if Fordham puts eight or even nine in the box in order to stop the run against the Black Knights as it tries to pull off the upset.