Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 28, 2013 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Game Preview: Air Force this season are more than 111 other FBS teams. The run and pass defenses rank 111th and 102nd, respectively, which left their overall group with a 118th mark through the midway point of October. The military academies always battle an undersized defensive line. This year's starting lineup had to replace all four linebackers from a year ago. That includes former big hitters Austin Niklas and Alex Means, who combined for 229 tackles in 2012. But the defense's biggest issues this season have been in the passing game, according to Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Brent Briggeman. Briggeman, who covers the Air Force team on a daily basis, said a mixture of scheme and execution has led to opponents throwing at will. The Falcons defensive backs typically line up six or seven yards off the line of scrimmage, leaving a lot of space for passes in the flat and wide receiver screens to develop. "I don't think it's so much the pass rush because most of the teams that have been picking them apart have been really quick-hitting passers," he said. "… That's really been their Achilles' heel." Efficient passing attacks have helped teams rack up yardage and come from behind to steal wins in the second half in recent weeks. Air Force has taken a lead into halftime in each of its last three losses. Navy trailed by a field goal after two quarters but ran off three straight touchdowns, two in the fourth quarter, to win handily. The Falcons had leads against Nevada and San Diego State, but gave up a touchdown in the final two minutes of both games to add another notch to the loss column. "If they make one play against San Diego State in the fourth quarter, they definitely could've won that game. Against Nevada had they converted a first down on a play when they had a drop they probably could've run out the clock. They're two plays from 3-4 as opposed to what looks like a disas- Game Info Notre Dame at air force Date: Oct. 26, 2013. Site: Falcon Stadium (46,692). Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET. Television: CBS Sports Network. Radio: This broadcast can be heard on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129). Series Facts: This is the 30th meeting between Notre Dame and Air Force. The Irish hold a 23-6 advantage over the Falcons, and won the last meeting 59-33 in South Bend in 2011. Coaches: Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (33-13, fourth season). Air Force — Troy Calhoun (48-37, seventh season). Noting Air Force: The extra elevation in Colorado Springs has not been an advantage for Air Force in this series, with four of Notre Dame's six losses to the Falcons coming in South Bend … Their last meeting, a 59-33 win for the Irish, was the highest combined score in the history of Notre Dame Stadium, and the 59 points was the most scored by a Notre Dame team since Lou Holtz's last game in 1996 … Calhoun won the Mountain West Coach of the Year award in 2007, his first season with the Falcons and the only year in which he beat Notre Dame.

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