In preparation for the Military Bowl, we had the opportunity to work with the Mountain West Conference blog, Mountain West Connection, for a 5 question Q&A. We posed questions to them and answered the same. Read on to see the view from the other side and find out what we can expect to see from Air Force in the Military Bowl.
1. What should Toledo fans know about Air Force?
Fans should know that Air Force runs the ball a lot, but people mistake the running game for a triple option offense when it really is a run option offense. Air Force lines up in what seems to be a triple option set with a fullback and sometimes two running backs, but the plays rarely fake to the fullback and then go into an option run on the outside which is one example of a triple option play. Air Force likes to run variations of the speed option or a fullback dive. The fullback dive is actually a killer play for Air Force because that play is what can suck in the defensive tackles, outside linebackers and defensive ends.
That play might be run on two or three straight plays and then Air Force will fake the dive and then either pass down field or take it to the outside for a big gain. Defenses must play 1/11th football where they take on the same assignment for every play, because the one time a safety steps up to help with the run or a defensive tackle does not take on the fullback head on there will be a big play by Air Force.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson can actually throw the ball well and is one of the best passing quarterbacks in Air Force’s history, so Toledo’s secondary needs to stay with their wide receiver and play their coverage on every play.
2. What are the keys to the game for the Air Force defense in stopping this high scoring Toledo offense?
I don’t know if Air Force can stop the Toledo attack. Air Force’s secondary has two good defensive backs in Jon Davis who has four interceptions and Anthony Wright, Jr. who has two picks. Their pass defense is actually one of the best in the country, but part of that is due to the Faclcon’s rush defense being 113th in the nation and that Air Force can control the time of possession with their running attack.
Air Force will need to create turnovers which they are just average doing as they are even on the turnover margin for the year and slow down the rushing attack of Toledo. Air Force has gone up against some good running backs like Boise State’s Doug Martin, San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman and the trio of backs at TCU; however, they had trouble and lost to all three. Air Force will not be able to stop Adonis Thomas or the Toledo rushing attack. What Air Force needs to do is slow down the attack and force long down situations and force Toledo to pass which will play into Air Force’s strength on defense.
3. What aspect of the Air Force offense is the most dangerous to the Rockets?
It is too easy to say the rushing attack which is true and that is where Air Force will gain the chunk of their yards. However, the amount of time on the field is what really hurts opposing teams since the running attack can tire out opposing defenses. However, the passing game could be more dangerous because when Air Force keeps running that fullback dive or speed option the defensive backs can be sucked in and that is when Air Force beats teams over top. Combine that with Toledo’s less than stellar secondary — when looking at pure numbers — and the passing game could end up being more dangerous if Air Force can connect on deep passes.
4. Fill in the blank: If __________________ it spells certain defeat for the Falcons.
If Air Force runs for less than 200 yards as a team it spells certain defeat for the Falcons.
5. With 7 players earning all conference honors this season, which player needs to have the best game in order for the Falcons to win in the Nation’s Capital?
Actually it is none of the all-conference players. The team goes as for as quarterback Tim Jefferson can take them, because he runs the offense. If he has a bad game and is unable to get some yards of his own rushing then it is likely that Air Force will struggle. Also, since Air Force might throw five to 10 times in a game they need him to be accurate as well.
An all-conference member that needs to have a big game is running back Asher Clark, because even though Air Force spreads the ball out to many backs it is Clark who gets the bulk of the carries and he needs to get near 100 yards for Air Force to be victorious.
Thanks again to Jeremy at MWConnection.com for working with us on this. Hope to see some great football in the bowl game.