Three Game Keys In Review: San Diego State

Just when things seemed as if they could not get any worse, the Falcons suffered perhaps the most gut-wrenching blow of the season on Thursday night versus San Diego State. Let's see how they handled the three keys laid out for them.

1) The first key for Air Force was to finish drives. The Aztecs had been one of the country's worst teams all season at getting turnovers inside their own 20. In theory, you could say Air Force did well here because it scored a touchdown on its only trip into the red zone. However, getting there only once is what could easily be perceived as the relevant failure for this offense. Air Force was able to make some long field goals, and it did hit one home run, but the Falcons didn't get enough chances to expose San Diego State's main weakness.

2) The second key for Air Force was to control the line of scrimmage and get a push up front. Air Force didn't do extremely well in this regard, allowing San Diego State to average 4.7 yards a carry as well as 214 rushing yards for the game. The Falcons recorded only one tackle for a loss against the run. Worst of all, they let San Diego State punish them on the ground during the Aztecs' go-ahead touchdown drive in the final minutes. The Falcons' defense broke down late and paid for it… severely.

3) The final key for Air Force was to take advantage of San Diego State's tendency to turn the ball over. The Falcons did win the turnover battle two to one, but neither team was able to get anything out of the turnovers it forced. The Falcons' first turnover gave their offense a drive start in San Diego State territory, making the failure to put up points even more frustrating in that particular instance.

At any rate, this game really came down to the Falcons' inability to protect a late lead. The offense failed to make that one big play (getting a first down to rest the defense), and the defense was unable to get off the field or slow the Aztecs' offense when it attained a noticeable rhythm. As a result, the Falcons dropped their sixth straight game and are likely to stay home for the postseason for the first time in Troy Calhoun's tenure, dating back to 2007.

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