Jaguars are running into formidable foe
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.”