Even riding a two-game winning streak, Army coach Jeff Monken realizes that his team will have to play better in order to beat red-hot Coastal Carolina that comes into Michie Stadium Saturday, at noon, holding its own even more impressive five-game winning streak.
“What a tremendous football team,” said Monken at his Tuesday afternoon press conference about the Chanticleers, now 7-3 on the season and 5-2 in the Sun Belt Conference.
“They have been the talk of college football for the last few years. Just the success they have had as a program. Coach (Tim) Beck has continued that. They are on a five-game winning streak and really playing good football. They are athletic and fast. So, we have to get ready and play better than we have to have a chance to win.”
As Coastal’s recent performance shows, Army, now 4-6. is going to have a lot to worry about in their final home game of the year as it looks to send off 35 seniors with a victory. Coastal is deep, particularly at the quarterback position. The Chanticleers have not missed a beat since multi-year starter Grayson McCall, who has accumulated more than 10,000 yards passing and 88 touchdown passes in his five years at Coastal, went down with an injury in the seventh game of the year against Arkansas State.
Backups Jarrett Guest and Ethan Vasko have kept Coastal winning since then, with Vasko throwing three touchdowns and running for another one in victories over Old Dominion and, last Saturday, Texas State.
Coastal has not announced whether McCall will play on Saturday.
The Chanticleers are averaging 30.1 points per game offensively, good for 48th in the nation, and giving up 21.2 points per game defensively, good for 38th in the nation. Army is scoring an average of 20.1 points per game, which is 112th in the nation among FBS teams and giving up 22.1 points per game defensively, which is 41st in the country.
“What is apparent with their football team is how athletic and fast they are,” Monken noted. “They get the ball on the perimeter, they do great job running the ball effectively between the tackles and they have a number of very talented receivers on offense. I am just really impressed with those guys, I wish they were not that good on offense, but they are. They are taking the ball up and down the field and scoring a lot of points. It’s going to be a great challenge for our defense.”
Monken is hoping that the Black Knights will be able to avoid the spate of penalties that played a big role in slowing down the Army offense in last week’s 17-14 victory over Holy Cross.
“Hopefully, we will do a better job this week,” Monken said. “It is frustrating to have the penalties we have. The last couple of weeks we have been penalized more than we had all year.”