In week zero, Navy did not do a good job representing the service academies to start the year. The good news is Army has a chance to prove they shouldn’t be lumped into the same conversation this season on Saturday when they go to Louisiana to take on the UL-Monroe Warhawks. With a new offense supposedly set to be rolled on Saturday, Army will be looking to take down the Warhawks for the second straight year.
The offseason went drastically different for many teams because of the transfer portal, and one of the teams affected negatively was UL-Monroe. Terry Bowden’s team has a (-7) offensive TARP, which stands for transferring assets and returning production, and a big reason for that is the loss of quarterback Chandler Rogers.
The beating from the transfer portal did not end there, as the Warhawks would also lose running back Andrew Henry, who, along with Rogers, rushed for a combined 675 yards last season. This leaves first-time starting quarterback Jiya Wright with a lot of work to do since he’s now taking over an offense that was 73rd in EPA per play last season.
Defensively, ULM lost their leading tackler from last year, which does not bode well for the Warhawks since they finished 124th in average points allowed per game. The Warhawks defense will be the first team to get a look at the new Army offense. To clarify, the offense is new, but the team is still entirely centered around the run; they’ll just be running more plays out of shotgun.
Army was 3rd in rush play percentage and rushing yards per game last season, but they will need to replace the production of quarterback Tyhier Tyler, who led them in rushing. While Tyler is a big loss, the Army system has a list of guys who can take the reigns as the lead rusher. Last season, the Black Knights had seven players, not including Tyler, who ended the year with at least over 200 yards.
On defense, Jeff Monken’s team does have their leading tackler, Leo Lowin, back, but the team will feature a handful of new starters in the secondary. In 2022, the Black Knights finished 41st in points per game, with an average of 24.3 allowed per game.
Army is (-10) point favorites for this week one matchup, but for my play, I’ll be targeting them in the first half at (-5.5). The Black Knights got off to a slow start last season in this matchup but still came away with a 48-24 win over the Warhawks, and now they take on a ULM team that is arguably worse on defense and has a first-time starter at quarterback.
Opponents ran all over the Warhawks last season, which resulted in them being ranked 120th in opponent rushing yards per game (205.6) and 110th in average yards per rush (4.9). When these two sides met last season, Army finished the game with 441 rushing yards, and now ULM has to line up against them without their leading tackler from last season and two defensive linemen they lost to power five schools.
ULM was only able to stay in the game early last year because Chandler Rogers was at the helm. Now that Rogers is gone, Jiya Wright is thrust into a system that was 99th in passing yards and rushing yards per game. To make things tougher on Wright, the Warhawks offensive line, who finished 122nd in QB sack percentage at 10.29%, lost three starters to the transfer portal.
Army Black Knights 1H (-5.5)