UB Gameday: Five Things to Watch vs. Army
Kickoff: 7 p.m. at UB Stadium.
Radio 1520 AM. Online: ESPN3.
1. Point of attack. Army’s offense outnumbers the defense at the point of attack. The base formation has the fullback directly behind the QB, with the two running backs lined up in slot-back positions, just outside and behind the tackles. Sometimes one of those slot-backs lines up in a slot-receiver position and comes in motion to take the handoff. Often there’s only one split-out receiver.
Watch where the pulling guards go, and that’s usually where the play is going, unless it’s misdirection. UB MLB Khalil Hodge and Army FB Andy Davidson probably will be hitting each other all night.
Keep in mind that UB will have a base plan to stop the dive, but it won’t do the same thing every play. If UB is succeeding, Army will adjust, and UB will have to re-adjust.
“It’s hard to really stop them without trying to fool them once in awhile,” UB defensive coordinator Brian Borland said.
2. Good angles. Over-pursuit can be lethal against Army. The outside linebackers and safeties must be on the same page in defending the perimeter, and the outside backer often has to slow-play the pitch and not commit too soon. Some linebackers pursue the pitch in the backfield, but when they get there the ball is gone and the runner has blown by them. . . . UB’s safety play has not been a strength so far. They will have to be good tacklers. At linebacker, we suspect Jarrett Franklin to get a lot of snaps on the outside, where he splits time with Brandon Berry. Berry plays with reckless abandon, which usually is a good thing. Not this week. Franklin played 58 snaps in Nevada, Berry 33.
3. Over the top. Army only has completed 13 passes. But they have gone for an average of 19.6 yards a catch. It’s hard not to get sucked in on play-action fakes by the Black Knights so UB will need good one-on-one coverage. Army may want to take some shots downfield early. UB CB Boise Ross (41) will sit out the first half due to the targeting foul he incurred at Nevada. (It was a bad call.) Watch for who fills in for Ross. Brandon Williams and Tatum Slack (9) are the second-team corners. . . . UB safety Dev Lamour (28) returned to practice this week after missing almost a month with an undisclosed injury. He’s questionable for Saturday, but his return to practice is encouraging for the start of conference play in two weeks. Lamour, a red-shirt freshman, was set to win a starting job to open the season.
4. No. 7. It’s time for UB to get the ball to Marcus McGill, the best run-after-catch receiver on the team. Get the ball in his hands and give him a chance to make plays. . . . Jackson threw incomplete on seven deep sideline throws in Nevada. That was too many, but UB must keep taking some deep shots. Jackson has the arm to do it, and it’s good to make the defense respect the full field.
5. The best defense is: An offense that holds the ball. Army probably will win the time of possession. But it can’t win it by 20 minutes (which it has been doing through three games this season).