It’s finally here! The AutoZone Liberty Bowl between West Virginia is now well under 24 hours until kickoff. Both Army and West Virginia have successfully made it to Memphis. All the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears have brought us to this. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl matchup between Army and West Virginia has brought a great deal of excitement around the bowl game itself. Both Army and West Virginia have had successful seasons.
For the Mountaineers, they come into the game with Army, riding a 5-4 record.
For the Army Black Knights, they come into the AutoZone Liberty Bowl riding high after an impressive 9-2 season including, wins over Air Force and Navy in the last games.
Head Coach of the Army Black Knights, Jeff Monken, had this to say about playing in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
” I’m excited that we’re here. I’m excited that we are preparing for the bowl game and the opportunity to play in the postseason. It’s one of the great rewards of playing college football and having an outstanding season is being able to play in a bowl game, and particularly a game like the Liberty Bowl that has so much history and playing a tremendous opponent like West Virginia. Our players are excited, our staff is excited, and I think everyone here at the Academy is just thrilled for the opportunity that we’ve been afforded to be able to apart of this game. Originally, obviously having secured an opportunity to play in the Independence Bowl and unfortunately, that game wasn’t able to be played but to be able to find our way into a major event like the Liberty Bowl is really a privilege for us. We got our team back and reconvened on the practice field yesterday. We obviously won’t have a lot of time to prepare for this game – just again this afternoon and tomorrow before we travel to Memphis to play the game. Our guys are excited to be back and, I think having had the opportunity to recharge the batteries a little bit after a really long semester and a long stretch from June 1st when we started our workouts and had guys back on campus. It’s pretty unique to experience a season like this, which has been the case for everybody, but I think there’s just a renewed spirit about this brotherhood after those guys had a chance to see some family and now be back here together. We’re working really hard as a staff. It’s a difficult opponent to prepare for – they are so talented and so well-coached. We recognize all of the challenges that are out there in front of us but we’ve got a great group of guys that work really hard. They play with a lot of pride and a lot of passion for these colors, playing for Army West Point and so we’re going to try and make the most of this great opportunity to play on national TV and be a part of the bowl scene in 2020.”
Head Coach Jeff Monken on facing West Virginia.
” It starts with Neal Brown. He’s an outstanding coach and he has a great staff. They do a tremendous job of coaching their guys. I followed Coach Brown when he was at Troy and they had so much success. They had some huge victories there and just the great job that they do coaching in such a difficult league like the Big 12. They’ve got a talented roster with really good players. I don’t know where to start. They have a really good quarterback and a bunch of tremendous players that he tosses the ball around to and their running back is fantastic. He’s one of the best running backs in the country in my opinion and in the opinions of a lot of other people. That starts with the offensive line. They have to protect the quarterback and give him the chance to throw to all of those terrific players and block for that running back. He can’t get all those yards on his own. I am very impressed with their offense. Defensively they are as athletic and talented as any defense that we have faced all year. (Darius) Stills in the middle there is a great player and a First Team All-American. How special is it for him to be able to play with his brother there on the defensive line? They are very good upfront and in their secondary. Look at the people they have to cover in their league and the talent that it takes to be able to play in a skill position in that conference. They are an outstanding defense. They have the stats to back it up. They are just a strong, stout defense, so it will be a challenge to run the ball against a defense that we know is very good at stopping the run. We don’t know a lot about them. We don’t play them every year and obviously for our offense to play them defensively is rolling the dice. We have to prepare for a lot of different things and see if they settle into one thing or if they’re doing a lot of different things to try to defend us. That makes it a particular challenge for us offensively because there is nothing we can get from film that would give us any indication of what we might see. The kicking game, that to me indicates how athletic a football team is and how hard they’re going to play. We watch them on special teams and they’re not only very talented, but they’re very well-coached. I watch the little things that they do in coaching their guys on covering kicks and blocking kicks and on fitting gaps and punt block schemes. They are very sound and very well-coached and very athletic. We are very impressed with their football team and it is going to be a tremendous challenge. We’re just going to do our very best to position our team to hopefully be hanging around with a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”
For West Virginia, Head Coach Neal Brown had this to say about facing the Black Knights in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
“I have great respect for the Army football tradition and the sacrifice the Cadets make daily for our country, “Coach Monken and his staff have done a terrific job at West Point with 43 wins in the last five years. “
Thursday’s game between Army and West Virginia will be the fourth matchup between the two with, the latest coming in 1961.
The 62nd annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl will get underway on Thursday at 3:00 PM central time and will be televised on ESPN.