2019 Army Black Knights Team Preview

Jeff Monken has completely turned Army football around. After winning just eight games total in 2011, 2012, and 2013, Monken slowly built up the program, with slow starts in 2014 and 2015, the Black Knights exploded in 2016, going 8-5 before winning ten games in 2017 and finally one of the best seasons in decades for Army, an 11-2 year last year.

QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. returns and the Knights get one of the easiest schedules in the country (and an extra game thanks to playing @ Hawai’i), meaning meeting or surpassing last year’s 11 win mark isn’t out of the question (my model calls for about ten if you include the bowl).

Offense

A pretty nice schedule and some late-game luck led Army to win 11 games last year, but the offense actually took a pretty significant step back, dropping a half yard per play.

QB Kelvin Hopkins was a bright spot though, averaging about five yards per carry, 11 yards per throw, and bringing in 23 touchdowns combined rushing and passing. Four of the top five in receiving yards return from last year, although Army threw so rarely that only one guy with more than eight catches is back, tailback Kell Walker.

Joining Walker in the backfield will be senior fullback Connor Slomka, and the line looks really solid with three starters back, Army had one of the most consistent lines in the country last year and I think the coaching staff can help bring the new guys along pretty quickly. This will be a typical Army-style offense, and I think they will be better than 2018’s group.

Defense

While the offense took a step back, the defense took a huge three-quarter of a yard per play step forward and allowed nearly four and a half fewer points per game. However, just four starters return from the group and the DC is gone. Safety coach John Loose, who has coordinating experience at Lafayette, was promoted from within to become the new DC.

The secondary returns an absolute stud in corner Elijah Riley, who had 7.5 TFL and ten PBUs last year. Jaylor McClinton and Javhari Bourdeau return as well, but the strong safety spot does remain up in the air.

The three best pass-rushers from last year’s team are gone, including all but one guy with more than one sack, and with just one starter returning in the front seven I am pretty worried about the defense.

The one starter back in the front seven is a good one, ILB Core Christiansen (11 TFL), but with a new DC and some obvious holes in run defense, this defense will take a step back.

2019 Outlook

The schedule is arguably one of the easiest in the country, with two FCS opponents and only one team ranked above 84th. We’ve seen how Army can challenge talented teams (Oklahoma last year), and if they can win that week two game at Michigan a 13-0 regular season is 100% on the table.

Schedule

DateOpponentopp. rankProj. Margin
30-AugRice12717.5
7-Sepat Michigan7-19.9
14-Sepat UTSA1198.5
21-SepMorgan StateNRn/a
5-OctTulane844.3
12-Octat Western Kentucky1052.6
19-Octat Georgia State1208.6
26-OctSan Jose State11614.1
2-Novat Air Force970.4
9-NovMassachusetts12416.6
16-NovVMINRn/a
30-Novat Hawaii1021.0
14-Decvs. Navy (philadelphia, pa)1108.6

Average Projected Record: 9.3 wins, 3.7 losses