Three Keys Revisited: Air Force at Fresno St.
1) Maintain the defensive effort
After a stellar defensive effort last week against Hawaii there was a huge drop in performance in California. The Bulldogs moved the ball at will, putting up over 600 yards of total offense on an Air Force defense which looked two steps slower to the ball than they did just one week ago. The biggest problem defensively was that Fresno State got rolling before the Falcons woke up. After scoring on a 64-yard bomb on the team's second play from scrimmage, Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr then tossed a 34- yard scoring pass to Isaiah Burse less than two minutes later. The result was that just over five minutes into the game Air Force was 14 points down and the defense was deflated. Carr had too much time all day as the pressure was virtually nonexistent and he threw four more touchdowns without a pick to take his season touchdown to interception ratio to an impressive 36:5.
2) Continue November success
Whatever it was that had contributed to the 8-2 record against non-ranked teams in November under Coach Calhoun was missing here. Admittedly this Bulldog team is a very, very good one (you can make the argument they are the best team the Falcons have played this year after Notre Dame) and with the win they have claimed a share of the Mountain West Championship. Air Force will now have about a month to figure out what went wrong and get some pep back into their steps before the bowl game.
3) Don't forget the pass
The passing game, much like the running game, never really got off the ground against a better than advertised Fresno State defense which swarmed to the ball and hit hard. The result was that Falcon fans got a potential look at the future sooner than expected when sophomore quarterback Kale Pearson entered the game at half time. Pearson replaced Connor Dietz who was benched not for poor play, but for the accumulation of bumps and bruises over the course of the season and during this physical game. This completely took the pass out of the equation as Pearson finished an ugly 1-of-5 with an interception.
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