Jaguars are run­ning into for­mi­da­ble foe

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Mar­shall

tuc­son» South Alabama faces the same task as ev­ery foot­ball team that plays against Air Force: Find a way to stop the run.

The Falcons an­nu­ally are one of the na­tion’s best rush­ing teams, and that was the case this sea­son. Try­ing to plan for all their op­tions is dif­fi­cult, par­tic­u­larly for a team that’s one of the worst in FBS against the run.

If the Jaguars are go­ing to win their first bowl game, Fri­day in the Ari­zona Bowl, they know ex­actly what they will have to do.

“They’re a tough, phys­i­cal, well-dis­ci­plined team that knows ex­actly what they want to do, and they run their of­fense to per­fec­tion,” South Alabama de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kane Wom­mack said of the Falcons.

Air Force (9-3) ranks fourth na­tion­ally in yards rush­ing, av­er­ag­ing a whop­ping 322.8 per game. The triple op­tion is dif­fi­cult to de­fend, not just be­cause so few teams have an of­fense like it, but be­cause of Air Force’s dis­ci­pline run­ning it. The Falcons have four play­ers who have rushed for at least 600 yards, led by half­back Ja­cobi Owens with 785 and three touch­downs.

South Alabama (6-6) has strug­gled against the run this sea­son, rank­ing 98th in the FBS with an av­er­age of 212.1 yards rush­ing per game al­lowed. Mak­ing the Jaguars’ task even more dif­fi­cult is Air Force’s se­nior class of 32 play­ers, the largest in school his­tory. It’s a group that has played in three bowl games and has a chance for its sec­ond 10-win sea­son in three years.

“This is prob­a­bly the old­est team we’ve had,” Air Force coach Troy Cal­houn said. “We’ve had squads that per­haps were more tal­ented, but we have 32 se­niors and as you go through each one of those guys, there are some ma­jor and sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tors in a va­ri­ety of roles.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.