Army’s triple option to test Wisconsin’s vaunted run defense

Army’s triple option to test Wisconsin’s vaunted run defense
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — No team in the country runs the ball a greater percentage of the time than Army. No team does a better job of stopping the run than Wisconsin.

That sets up an intriguing matchup Saturday night when Wisconsin (2-3) attempts to stop Army’s triple-option attack. Army (4-1) will be attempting to beat a Power Five team for the first time

Army has run the ball on 90.8% of its snaps and has averaged 318.2 yards rushing, second only to Air Force among Bowl Subdivision teams. Air Force averages 66.5 carries per game – – while running the ball 90.1% of the time.

Wisconsin allows 41.4 yards rushing per game and to lead the nation in both categories.

Neither team has seen anything quite like what it will be facing Saturday. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said he started preparing his players for Army’s triple option as far back as this spring.

“It’s almost like we have two defenses,” Wisconsin defensive end Matt Henningsen said. “We have our base defense, and then we have our defense for Army week.”

The Badgers are hoping that extra practice pays off. They’ve seen enough of Army’s offense to know they’re facing something unique.

“It’s something you’re not used to seeing,” Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn said. “Everybody thinks that it’s just the normal triple option, but they can do so many different things off of it, so many different variations.”

Army’s challenge is dealing with a step up in competition. The Black Knights, who haven’t faced a Power Five team this season, had two weeks to prepare for this game after on Oct. 2.

Illinois running back Joshua McCray sticks the ball over the goal line to avoid a safety as Wisconsin defensive end Matt Henningsen (92) and Collin Wilder (18) make the tackle during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Champaign, Ill.

Wisconsin is coming off arguably its best performance of the year, as the Badgers recorded their first shutout and rushed for a season-high 391 yards in a 24-0 victory at Illinois.

Army ranks third nationally in run defense. The Black Knights have allowed just 54 yards rushing per game and 2.41 yards per carry.
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