Army faces Eastern, looking for first win

Associated Press

Ypsilanti — Army has been close in all three games this season but still doesn’t have a victory to show for it.

The Black Knights get another chance today.

Army visits Eastern Michigan after losing its first three games by a combined 10 points, including last weekend’s 17-14 loss to visiting Wake Forest on a field goal as time expired.

“Whenever you feel the way that we do with the frustration and disappointment, all you want to do is go out and play again so you can get rid of that feeling,” coach Jeff Monken said. “This weekend is an opportunity.”

Army’s option-based offense has struggled at times during the opening losing streak, but Monken said the Black Knights’ problems extend beyond when they have the ball.

“What we need is for our guys to make more plays, to finish blocks and to finish runs. We’ve missed a lot of tackles in each of the first three games. We’re not breaking as many tackles as we’re missing,” he said. “There aren’t a bunch of other plays that we have hidden away, we threw everything we had at (Wake Forest).

“We’ve been very successful running this offense, and I’m confident that as we continue to get better fundamentally, we’ll do a better job.”

Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw leads Army with 333 yards on 57 tries, averaging better than 5 yards per carry.

Eastern Michigan (1-2) dropped last weekend’s Mid-American Conference opener to visiting Ball State, 28-17, but sophomore running back Darius Jackson has six touchdowns this season.

Eastern Michigan hasn’t had a winning season since 1987, but second-year coach Chris Creighton has pepped up an offense that struggled under predecessor Ron English.

Like Army, Eastern Michigan also has been very close in its losses; they had double-digit leads in both setbacks, including a 17-0 advantage in the loss to Ball State.

“We’ve definitely been there in all three games,” Creighton said. “Army has lost three extremely close games and I think you’re going to have two teams that have lost close games and are trying to prove themselves.”

Here are a few things to watch when Eastern hosts Army:

The Black Knights have struggled to get production from their fullbacks, but the option-based offense could catch a break against an Eastern Michigan defense that allowed Ball State 278 yards on the ground.

Army generates more than two-thirds of its offense on the ground, while Eastern Michigan’s offensive totals are almost evenly divided between running and passing.

■Eastern Michigan sophomore Brogan Roback has thrown for 597 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Bradshaw is 9-for-20 for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

■Jackson’s six touchdowns include a 63-yard scoring run in last weekend’s loss to Ball State. He’s been part of the reason the Eagles have doubled their scoring and yardage numbers compared to last season’s first three games.

This is the seventh meeting, and Eastern Michigan has won once, a 48-38 home victory in 2012. The Black Knights won the most recent meeting, 50-25 in 2013 at West Point.