Army Black Knights Football Team Preview 2019: Odds and Predictions

2018 Season in Review

2018 was a banner year for Army’s football program, as they appeared and finished in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 1996. With their high powered triple-option attack and a stout, tenth-ranked defense, the Black Knights were able to take care of business against most of their schedule. Their lone losses came against power conference foes Duke and Oklahoma, with the latter being a 28-21 overtime thriller in Norman.

Most importantly for Army fans, Jeff Monken’s squad took down rival service academies Air Force and Navy to claim their second straight Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The Black Knights would cap off their 10-2 regular season by blowing out Houston 70-14 in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Key Returning Players (2018 Stats)

  • QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. (Senior) – 1,017 Rush Yards | 17 Rush TD | 4.9 YPC
  • FB Connor Slomka (Senior) – 324 Rush Yards | 5 Rush TD | 4.4 YPC
  • MLB Cole Christiansen (Senior) – 77 Total Tackles | 12.0 TFL | 2 Pass Def
  • S Jaylon McClinton (Senior) – 54 Total Tackles | 4.0 TFL | 2 INT

Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. is back in West Point for his senior season, where he will be working with a backfield that features several runners taking on larger roles. Those running backs include seniors Connor Slomka and Kell Walker, along with junior Zach Boobas. The offensive line is loaded with seniors, with left tackle Alex Herndon and center Jack Sides headlining that group.

Although the defense will be without coordinator Jay Bateman, who took the same job at North Carolina, there are still plenty of playmakers on campus. The linebacker corps will be led by middle man Cole Christiansen while Army’s frontline is anchored by fellow senior Rod Stoddard II at nose guard. Seniors Jaylon McClinton and Cameron Jones are expected to man the safety spots, while Elijah Riley and Javhari Bourdeau line up on the outside.

Key Departures

  • RB Darnell Woolfolk (Graduation)
  • RB Andy Davidson (Graduation)
  • OLB James Nachtigal (Graduation)
  • CB Mike Reynolds (Graduation)

Although few if any of last year’s seniors will be playing on Sunday’s, their contributions will be missed going forward. The biggest loss is running back Darnell Woolfolk, who leaves West Point tied for second in school history with 37 rushing touchdowns. The defense also lost some key players in pass rushers, James Nachtigal, and Kenneth Brinson, with the former recording 8.5 sacks and forcing five fumbles.

Notable Recruits (Star Ratings and Rankings According to Rivals.com)

  • MLB Spencer Jones – 3 Star | 6-1, 215lb | Vandegrift HS | Austin, TX
  • OG Carson Shaffer – 3 Star | 6-3, 280lb | Prosper HS | Prosper, TX
  • RB Keiran Grant – 3 Star | 5-11, 175lb | Cuero HS | Cuero, TX
  • WR Dedrick Wilson – 3 Star | 6-1, 195lb | Kenedy HS | Kenedy, TX

With Army not being a breeding ground for NFL development, recruiting top talent to West Point is one of the toughest tasks in college football. However, with scholarship limits not applicable to service academies, Army is able to produce massive classes like this year’s edition which includes 85 commitments. Leading the class is a foursome of three-star prospects from Texas, which includes running back Keiran Grant and Spencer Jones.

The class of 2019 also includes a handful of quarterback recruits, who will be groomed to run Monken’s triple-option offense. These prospects include Georgia recruits Kyle Terry and Jaylon West as well as fellow two-stars Alex Meredith and Dadisi Curtis.

2019 Schedule

DateOpponent
August 30thRice
September 7th@ Michigan
September 14thUT-San Antonio
September 21stMorgan State
October 5thTulane
October 12th@ Western Kentucky
October 19th@ Georgia State
October 26thSan Jose State
November 2nd@ Air Force
November 9thUMass
November 16thVMI
November 30th@ Hawaii
December 14thNavy (Neutral site game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA)

As an independent, Army has the flexibility to tailor their schedule to allow for a mix of challenges and winnable games. Coach Monken has made a habit of scheduling games against playoff contenders such as Oklahoma and Ohio State. This year is no different as the Black Knights will meet up in Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in the Big House. Their performance against Oklahoma last year could give them enough confidence to hang with the Wolverines, or it could be a blip on the radar.

As always, their rivalry games against Air Force and Navy should be tightly contested regardless of how their seasons go. Having to play the Falcons in Colorado could be tough given the altitude and their fast-paced attack.

Where to Bet on Win Totals in New Jersey

New Jersey residents can log on to 888Sport to wager on Army’s win total. With an over/under of 9.5 wins, another season like the previous two should not come as a surprise.

Army Black Knights, Number of Games Won – Excluding Bowl Games & Play-Offs

Regular season only. Conference championship games do not count.

SportsbookOver 9.5Under 9.5Link
888Sport NJ-182+150

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