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Guessing Game: What offense will Army run vs. Navy

Photo by Lynn Fern/Black Knight Nation

Jeff Monken carefully danced around what offense the Black Knights will rely on in their annual tussle with Navy on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m at what is expected to be a sold-out Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass, and a huge national television audience.

Will Monken and Army stay with the under-center option offense that spurred Army to a shocking 28-21 victory over Coastal Carolina three weeks ago? Or will he return to the shotgun option offense the team used, to very mixed reviews and results, in the Black Knights first 10 games of the season? Or could it be a combination of the two offenses, a strategy that could really keep the Midshipmen on their collective toes throughout the game?

“I don’t know how many wrinkles we can come up with,” said Monken during his weekly press
conference on Tuesday. “I think the best way to win is to do what we do best and try to do the things that we practiced all year long. That seems over the years, when we played our best, to be the best formula.”

He did say that offensive coordinator Drew Thatcher would return to calling the offensive plays, after run game coordinator Cody Worley, who had more experience with the under-center option scheme, called the plays against Coastal Carolina.

“We always got some things in every game that maybe our opponent was not prepared for,” added Monken, who is coaching his 10th
Army-Navy game at West Point and has a 5-4 record in past contests. “In this game, you are not going to win the game on trick plays and not going to win the game on reinventing your identity or your schemes. It is doing what you do best. Hopefully that will be good enough.”l

The big reason for keeping the expected offensive scheme the football equivalent of a state secret is that, as always, the 124th annual Army-Navy game means everything to both teams and their respective fans. While Army and Navy enter the game with identical 5-6 records, the Black Knights will regain the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy with a victory. Army upset then No. 17 and undefeated Air Force in Denver, 23-3, in early November, while Navy lost to the Falcons, 17-6, in October.

“We know it is going to be an incredible fight,” Monken said, adding that the team is as healthy as it has been this deep into the season in his time leading Army, though will be without junior wide receiver Isaiah Alston.

“Their guys are going to come into that game sky high and playing as hard as they can. And, hopefully, our guys are going to come in the game sky high and playing as hard as they can. That is what makes the game so great. It is intense, its physical and it is a group of guys on each side fighting so hard to win. Like every year it is going to be a lot of fun to be part of and, hopefully, we will find a way to get to the victory circle.”

Navy may have some wrinkles of its own in the game that will be played in New England for the first time. Monken said he would not be surprised if the Midshipmen used three different quarterbacks (Tai Lavatai. Xavier Arline and Braxton Woodson) during the game. Alex Tecza, Navy’s big sophomore fullback, who rushed for 724 yards and five touchdowns this season, will also be a focus for the Black Knights defense.

“There is nothing that matches the intensity of this game,” Monken said. “So when we get to
Saturday I anticipate that both teams will be as excited as two teams can be to square off.”

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