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Army Football Game Notes: The Duke Game

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army football team will go for its second straight win on Saturday, Sept. 25 when it travels to Duke. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium.

TELEVISION
There is no television coverage for Saturday’s game.

ARMY RADIO
Army Sports Network
  Flagship: WABC (770-AM, New York, N.Y.)
  Affiliates: WALL (1340-AM, Middletown, N.Y.);  
  WEOK (1390-AM, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
Play-by-Play: Rich DeMarco
Color Analyst: Dean Darling
Sideline: Tony Morino
Program Host: Bob Outer

The 90-minute “Army Football Tailgate Show,” begins at 1 p.m. Pre-game coverage starts at 2:30 p.m.

SATELLITE RADIO
The Army Sports Network game broadcast will be carried via Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 152)  and beginning at 3 p.m.

INTERNET STREAMING
ESPN3 (www.espn3.com)

  Play-by-Play: Ryan Rose
  Color Analyst: Jay Taylor

ESPN3 will stream the game live on Saturday. There is no charge for the webcast, however users’ internet service provider must subscribe to the streaming platform. Check www.espn3.com for a list of providers. ESPN3 is available on college campuses and military bases in the U.S.

The entire Army Sports Network broadcast, including the “Army Football Tailgate Show,” will be streamed live via ITT Knight Vision on www.goARMYsports.com each week. Subscription fees apply.

On Tuesdays of game weeks, Rich Ellerson’s weekly press conference will be video streamed live on ITT Knight Vision. Thursday’s “This Week in Army Football,” show will also be video streamed live. Both events are available only to ITT Knight Vision subscribers.

COACHING MATCH UP
ARMY HEAD COACH RICH ELLERSON

  Alma Mater: Hawai’i, 1977
  2nd Season at Army (7-8, .467)
  11th Season Overall (67-49, .578)
  Record vs. Duke: 0-1

DUKE HEAD COACH DAVID CUTCLIFFE
  Alma Mater: Alabama, 1976
  3rd Season at Duke (10-17, .370)
  9th Season Overall (54-47, .535)
  Record vs. Army: 1-0

ARMY QUICK HITTERS
Army improved to 2-1 on the young season with its 24-0 home victory over North Texas. It was Army’s first shutout since the 2005 season and its first home blanking since 1993.

The Black Knights are looking for their third straight win on an opponents’  home field. Army won its final road game of 2009 (at North Texas) and opened this season with a win at Eastern Michigan. Army has not won three straight games in its opponents’ home stadium since a six-game run over the 1966 and 1967 seasons.

The Black Knights rushed for 292 yards in their win against the Mean Green. It was the third consecutive game that Army broke the 250-yard mark. The Black Knights enter the week with the seventh-ranked rushing offense in the nation (283.67).

The Black Knights can claim the most balanced rushing attack in the nation. Army is the only team the nation to have at least five players averaging 40.0 yards or more per game (min. 75% of team’s games played). Army has had a different player lead the team in rushing in each of the first three games. Senior SB Patrick Mealy was the top rusher at Eastern Michigan, sophomore FB Jared Hassin topped the list versus Hawai’i and sophomore SB Brian Cobbs paced Army versus North Texas. Five different players have scored rushing touchdowns this season, already matching last season’s total.

For the third straight week, Army will face a top-25 passing offense. The Black Knights faced Hawai’i when the Warriors were ranked No. 1 in the nation (459.0), while North Texas came into last weekend’s game ranked 23rd (282.5). Duke comes into Saturday’s tilt with the 19th-rated pass offense in the nation (288.0). Despite playing against such prolific passing attacks, Army is ranked 29th in the nation in pass defense, giving up 160.0 yards per game.

Senior DE Josh McNary continued his assault on the Army record book with a two-sack performance against North Texas. McNary extended his own Academy all-time record to 23.0 quarterback takedowns. The two sacks also moved him into a first-place tie on Army’s career tackles for loss list with 42.0 (George Mayes, 1976-79). McNary has five sacks in Army’s last two games. As a team, Army has seven sacks in the last two weeks.

A WIN VS. DUKE WOULD ...
• Put Army two games above the .500 mark since ending the 1996 season with a 10-2 mark.
• Be the first time the Black Knights have won three straight games on their opposition’s home field since a six-game winning streak during the 1966 and 1967 seasons.
• Snap Army’s seven-game losing streak versus the ACC.
• End Army’s 17-game losing streak versus ACC opponents on the road.
• Even head coach Rich Ellerson’s record at Army 8-8. Army won a total of seven games in its previous 32 outings before Ellerson’s arrival.
• Improve Army’s September record to 5-3 in the last two years. The Black Knights won a total of four games in September from 2000-08 (4-30).
• Be the 645th win in the 121 seasons of Army football (644-457-51; .581).

SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILS
The Blue Devils are led by head coach David Cutcliffe who is in his third season in Durham. Cutcliffe has guided Duke to a 10-17 record in his two-plus seasons. The Blue Devils won a total of 10 games in the 70 games before Cutcliffe’s arrival on campus. Last season’s five wins marked the program’s high-water mark since the 1994 squad went 8-4.

Duke is playing its second straight home game and third game at Wallace Wade Stadium in its first four outings. The Blue Devils opened the season with a 41-27 win over Elon, the Division I Football Championship Subdivision’s seventh-ranked team before losing its ACC opener at Wake Forest, 54-48.

The Blue Devils lost to top-ranked Alabama last Saturday, 62-13. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 28-0 lead and led 45-13 at intermission. Quarterback Sean Renfree, who threw for 106 yards on only eight attempts against Army last season, amassed 144 yards and a touchdown versus Alabama. Josh Snead led the ground game with 83 yards on 14 carries.

Duke boasts the nation’s 27th-most prolific offense, averaging 443.67 yards per game. The Blue Devils are 33rd in the nation in scoring, posting 34.0 points per outing. Cutcliffe, who has coached both Payton and Eli Manning, has installed a passing attack that is ranked 19th in the nation with a 288.0 yards-per-game average.

Renfree has been particulary productive. He is completing 63.3 percent (76-120) of his throws for 852 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions. His 281.67 total offense yards per game is the 19th-best average in the nation. Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner and Austin Kelly have been Renfree’s favorite targets with 20, 20 and 17 catches, respectively. Vernon is averaging 16.0 yards per catch and has hauled in two touchdown passes. Varner is second on the team with 229 receiving yards and one score, while Kelly has 146 receiving yards and two scores.

Desmond Scott leads the Duke rushing attack with 79.3 yards per game and a 6.8 yards-per-carry average. He has accounted for two of the Blue Devils’s five rushing scores. Snead is next on the ledger with 42.0 yards per game. Brandon Connette is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and has one score.

Defensively, Duke is 117th in the nation, allowing opponents 510.67 yards per game. Each of the Blue Devils’ first three opponents have posted at least 400 yards of offense, including Alabama’s 626 yards last week. Duke is 111th versus the run (223.0), 108th against the pass (287.67) and 118th in scoring defense (47.67).

Matt Daniels leads the team with 21 total tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Daniels is tied for the team lead with three pass breakups and has also accounted for one of Duke’s five interceptions. The Blue Devils are tied for ninth in the nation in that category.

Duke’s return teams have been successful thus far this season. Snead is 31st in the nation, averaging 25.75 yards per kick return, while Lee Butler is 15th in the country with 15.25 yards per punt return.

THE ARMY-DUKE SERIES
The Black Knights and Blue Devils have met 21 times on the gridiron with Duke holding a slim 11-9-1 advantage. The first meeting was a 27-7 Army victory at the Polo Grounds in New York City during the Cadets’ 1944 national championship season. The first four games in the series (1944-46, 53) were all played in the fabled facility.

Army won the first six games and eight of the first 12 meetings in the series, but Duke reeled off a five-game winning streak between 1989-97.  The Blue Devils have won seven of the last eight meetings, including the last two games.

The Black Knights have lost their last five trips to Durham. Army’s last win was a 21-6 victory on Oct. 17, 1959.

ARMY VS. THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
Duke is the only ACC opponent on the 2010 schedule. Army played the Blue Devils last season as well. It was the first time the Black Knights faced an ACC foe since three such opponents in 2008.

Army is 34-54-1 all-time against teams currently competing in the ACC (Boston College 12-24, Clemson 1-0, Duke 9-11-1, Georgia Tech 1-3, North Carolina 1-6, North Carolina State 1-0, Virginia 5-3, Wake Forest 4-7).

The Black Knights have lost seven straight games to ACC opponents overall and 17 in a row on the road. Army’s win against Georgia Tech in 1971 was the last time the Black Knights defeated an ACC team on its home field.

THE LAST MEETING: DUKE 35, ARMY 19 (SEPT. 12, 2009)
WEST POINT, N.Y.  —
Backup quarterback Sean Renfree threw for two touchdowns and Leon Wright returned a pair of interceptions for scores as Duke secured a 35-19 victory over Army at Michie Stadium.
  
Duke spoiled Army’s first home game of 2009 as Renfree came off the bench to throw for 106 yards and Wright added insurance points with his interception returns.
  
Army built a 10-0 first-half lead and held a 385-236 advantage in total yards but an opportunistic Duke squad scored the road victory. The Black Knights piled up 266 yards rushing and 119 through the air, but were unable to win its second straight contest.
  
Patrick Mealy rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 10 carries to pace the Army ground game quarterback Trent Steelman carried 17 times for 75 yards. Steelman completed two passes for 28 yards while Carson Williams hit on 8-of-18 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.
  
Alex Carlton kicked the first two field goals of his career, from 43 and 31 yards. Steve Erzinger was credited with eight tackles to lead the Army defense while Donovan Travis Andrew Rodriguez each made seven stops.
  
Army scored on its opening possession as Steelman capped the drive with his first collegiate touchdown, a two-yard run. After Carlton’s first field goal made it 10-0, Duke scored its first points midway through the quarter when starting quarterback Thaddeus Lewis connected with Conner Vernon for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Blue Devils took their first lead in the third quarter after one of Army’s four turnovers.
  
Carlton’s second field goal made it 14-13, but Renfree threw his second touchdown on the first play of the final quarter, hitting Varner for a 31-yard score and a 21-13 Duke lead.
  
Army went to Williams to lead the passing attack, but Renfree recorded “pick-sixes” on two straight throws to give the Blue Devils a 35-13 lead. Williams found Alejandro Villanueva for an eight-yard touchdown as time expired to set the final score.

NO (TURNOVER) MARGIN FOR ERROR
Army has made one of its goals for the 2010 season to be the No. 1-ranked team in the nation in turnover margin. The Black Knights are close to their goal, ranking 16th in the nation through three weeks with a +1.33 average turnover margin.

After a +2 (2-0) showing in the win over North Texas, Army is now 6-0 under head coach Rich Ellerson when on the plus side of the turnover battle.

In Army’s last seven wins Army is averaging 3.1 takeaways and holds a +2.0 turnover margin average (22-8 overall). Conversely, in its last eight losses, Army is averaging just 1.1 takeaway per game and is on the wrong end of a -0.63 turnover margin average (9-14 overall).

Since the start of 2006, the Black Knights have posted a 10-2 record when winning the turnover battle. On the flip side, Army is 5-22 when on the wrong end of the turnover margin and 1-10 when the turnover margin is even.

Army is 1-8 in its last nine games without forcing an opponent turnover.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING
Army has scored at least 24 points in each of its first three games. It is the first time the Black Knights have reached the 24-point mark in three straight games since wins at Air Force (27-24), versus Massachusetts (34-27) and against Arkansas State (38-10) in November 2005.

Since the start of the 2004 season, Army is 13-8 when scoring at least 24 points. That total accounts for  59.0 percent of Army’s 22 victories in that span.

Army has scored 83 points through three games. The Black Knights scored their 83rd point in the fifth game of the 2009 season, and scored a total of 88 points in its final seven games of last season.

The Black Knights’ 83 points through three games marks its best three-game scoring total to start a season since the 1999 squad scored 84 points while starting 1-2 (L, Wake Forest, 15-34; L, at Tulane, 28-48; W, Ball State, 41-21). It is the first time the Black Knights have scored at least 24 points in their first three games since the 1996 team began the year with eight such outings.

Despite two such wins in 2009, Army is 7-76 since the start of 1996 in games where they score less than 20 points.

Army has not averaged 20.0 points per game since the 2005 season (220 points in 11 games).

UP NEXT ...
Army returns home to face Temple on Oct. 2 in its annual homecoming contest. The first 5,000 fans through the gates at Michie Stadium will receive a Glenn Davis bobblehead. Kickoff is slated for noon, and the game will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports Network.
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