Run-oriented Air Force figures to fly high against Aztecs

Posted: 09/25/2009 in college football
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The Air Force Academy might be known for flying but its football team is known for running.

The Falcons are again one of the top rushing teams as they prepare to host woeful San Diego State on Saturday in the high altitude of Falcon Stadium, located just north of Colorado Springs.

But it isn’t just the elevation of more than 6,600 feet that trips up opponents. It is the Air Force ground assault that is most dangerous and the Falcons are leading the nation in rushing at 344.3 yards per game.

That’s not a good combination for San Diego State, which traditionally has trouble winning at sea level (Qualcomm Stadium) or lower levels (see Cal Poly in 2006 and 2008), let alone at elevated levels.

The Aztecs (1-2) are coming off a loss to hapless Idaho and an eyewitness said the Vandals were bigger and more physical than San Diego State. That doesn’t bode well against the well-conditioned Falcons, who also are adept blockers in addition to being technically and fundamentally sound.

Thus far, San Diego State is allowing 135 yards per game on the ground, which represents a vast improvement over last season’s porous defensive effort. But the Falcons have run all over Aztecs’ defenses that had much better talent than this group.

Troy Calhoun’s Air Force squad is also getting things done defensively. The Falcons (2-1) are allowing just 11 points per game (11th best in the nation) and allowing just 127.3 passing yards per game (10th in the nation).

San Diego State can’t run the ball so it will test the Falcons’ gaudy rankings by airing things out. Quarterback Ryan Lindley (five touchdowns, four interceptions) has been inconsistent through three games and needs to avoid mistakes against Air Force.

Aztecs wideout Vincent Brown has been on fire this season with 24 receptions for 424 yards. He’s topped 100 yards receiving in each game this season.

This is the Aztecs’ Mountain West Conference opener and it figures to be a tough debut season for new coach Brady Hoke. Air Force is a middle-of-the-pack team in the nine-team conference, the type of foe the Aztecs should be able to compete with.

But San Diego State lost at home by 25 points to the Falcons last season (35-10) and were routed badly (55-23) in their last visit to the Colorado Springs area.

It would be a major surprise if San Diego State were to upset the Falcons but for now, let’s just see if the Aztecs can play Air Force close.

When you lose at Idaho, it’s hard to hope for anything more.


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