The “Flexbone,” or in common vernacular, “triple-option” offense suits service-academy teams better than most. Instead of the 4 and 5-star specialty weapons of the ACC and Big Ten, the commander-in-chief division welcomes student-athletes who are versatile, disciplined and trained at multiple positions.
The Flexbone is based on team quickness and cooperation, and has the added bonus of helping keep your defense off the field. There is no magic cure for a service academy defense.
Yet Army has become another service academy to dabble in modern spread offense, lose spectacularly, then slowly and patiently rebuild with option-guru Paul Johnson or one of his disciples. 2017 could see the payoff of a long process under HC Todd Monken, a Georgia Southern-bred true believer in the Flex. The Black Knights nearly blanked ancient rival Fordham last weekend, and scored 64 points without completing a single pass.
The Buffalo Bulls cannot be thrilled to be visiting West Point right now.
Who: Buffalo Bulls at Army Black Knights
When: Saturday, September 9th, 12 PM EST
Where: Michie Stadium, West Point, NY
Lines: Buffalo (+16.5) at Army (-16.5) / O/U Total (49)
Buffalo managed to frustrate Minnesota’s offense in the season opener despite losing 17-7. That’s probably why the O/U line is set at only 49 total points – bookies think that the Bulls’ defense might be for real, even if they’re destined to be worn down in the 4th quarter by the hard-running Knights.
At least 3 warning signs stand out, however. The Bulls’ defense only managed 2 negative plays (or 3 if you count an interception) against their Big Ten opponent, recorded no sacks, and few QB pressures. The only way to stop a tuned-up Flexbone team is to penetrate, put them in negative down and distance, and make their passer uncomfortable on 3rd and long. Buffalo appears to have none of those traits on ‘D.
Meanwhile, Army has developed a maestro at QB in upperclassman Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw averaged, oh, 20 yards a carry in Week 1…or 19.7 to be exact.
Either Army to cover with at least a 17-point win or Over (49) total points is a smart play here.
Bookies see Buffalo linebacker Khalil Hodge’s 20 total tackles against Minnesota and think they’re on to something. They might be – Hodge is a fine athlete. But it takes a different skill set to defend Army’s powerful offense vs. what it takes to stop P.J. Fleck’s for-now-disorganized Golden Gophers.
Buffalo isn’t a bad MAC team. They just won’t be able to keep up. Expect a 41-17 or higher final score and feel free to place separate bets on Army to cover, and a high-scoring game.