Morgan State (0-0) @ Army (0-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Site: Mitchie Stadium, West Point, N.Y.
Radio: 88.9 FM WEAA
Series: First meeting
What's at stake: Under coach Donald Hill-Eley, Morgan State is 14-20 against nonconference opponents, but 6-6 in season openers. But the Bears finished last season on a dubious six-game losing streak during which they were outscored, 154-93. That ending left a bad taste in the mouths of the players and coaches, but this contest marks the beginning of four consecutive games away from Hughes Stadium and eight of 12 contests on the road. Morgan State is expected to unveil its spread attack offense against Army, which attempts to run as many as six players into open field and force the defense to account for each player. That puts the onus on junior quarterbacks Seth Higgins (1,111 yards and nine touchdowns) and Robert Council (1,115 yards and five touchdowns, 302 rushing yards and three touchdowns) to run the offense and take advantage of opportunities. The Black Knights are trying to bounce back from back-to-back sub-.500 campaigns capped by a 2-10 record in 2012.
Key matchup: Despite Army's troubles a year ago, the offense boasted the nation's most productive run unit, averaging 369.8 yards. Army could be just as effective thanks to the return of senior tailback Raymond Maples (1,215 yards in 2012, which is the fifth-highest single-season mark in school history), junior fullback Larry Dixon (839 yards), and a wealth of depth. That figures to be a huge challenge for a Morgan State defense that surrendered an average of 177.7 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns last year. Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Demarco Bisbee registered 7½ tackles for loss and 3½ sacks last fall.
Player to watch: The spotlight will be on Higgins and Council, but they could use some assistance from the run game. All-MEAC selection Travis Davidson (1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns) is gone, but redshirt freshman Lamont Brown is expected to get the start. Junior Tracy Martin (74 yards and one touchdown) and freshman Orlando Johnson round out the position and could give the Bears a fresh look on offense. Positive contributions from that trio could relieve some of the pressure on Higgins and Council.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun