SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — After a fairly rigorous first month of the season that included an overtime loss at then-No. 5 Oklahoma, Army coach Jeff Monken felt the bye week came at the right time for the Black Knights.
Coming in the midst of a three-game road trip was even better.
"We were able to do some things that we had not done since camp," Monken said. "We did a lot of San Jose stuff in terms of our defense on their offensive schemes and special teams. But we were able to go back and hit on some things that in preseason camp we cover, scenarios that may come up during the season but you kind of push them to the back burner."
The Black Knights (3-2) returned from the bye this week to prepare for a rare trip to the West Coast to face winless San Jose State (0-5) in the first meeting between the teams.
Two of the Spartans losses have been by six points or fewer, including a 44-41 five-overtime defeat to Hawaii on Sept. 29.
Although San Jose State is one of four winless teams in the FBS this season, joining Nebraska, UCLA and UTEP, Monken is cautioning his team not to overlook the Spartans.
"I really see their team much like I see ours," Monken said. "We're a team that's gotta fight and scrap and claw. Just a couple years ago we were in some of those games that didn't go our way. It really doesn't take a whole lot to flip it from one result to the next. They've got enough athletes to do that."
The game between Army and San Jose State is being played at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and site of the 2019 national championship.
It's Army's first trip to the West Coast since 2014 when the Black Knights were shut out 35-0 at Stanford.
"It's a real challenge for us but a great opportunity to play in an NFL stadium and I think our guys are looking forward to it," Monken said. "Anytime we can travel outside of our region here is beneficial. We have a lot of guys who are from California and the West Coast on our team and they are excited about going home to have their families come watch them play."
Here are some a few things to watch on Saturday when Army plays San Jose State:
BEAT THE CLOCK
The Black Knights best weapon this season has been the running game and their ability to control the clock. They head into the game leading the nation in time of possession at 40 minutes, 13 seconds. Three times they've held the ball for more than 40 minutes.
Army is also converting fourth downs at a ridiculous rate. The Black Knights have been successful going for it 16 of 18 times and lead the nation with a .889 success rate.
RUSH ON THE RISE
A year ago Army led the FBS in rushing for the first time since 2012. After a slow start on the ground against Duke in the season opener, the Black Knights are up to their old tricks. Over the previous four games Army is averaging 343 yards rushing and are third nationally overall behind Georgia Tech and Navy. Six different players have run for 110 yards or more for the Black Knights this season.
TOUGH TIGHT END
San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver leads all FBS tight ends with 31 receptions. Of those, 22 have resulted in a first down. Oliver is tied with Stanford's Kaden Smith for most receiving yards by a tight end this season at 382.
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