OVERVIEW: Last week, Air Force (4-2, 2-1) got back on the winning track against an injury plagued San Diego State team 35-10. Air Force looked dominant on the opening drive of the game as freshman QB Tim Jefferson drove the option attack right down the throat of the beleaguered SDSU defense. However, Air Force lost the momentum and SDSU responded with 10 unanswered points to take the lead. A blown call by the officials negated an Aztec fumble return for a touchdown, and although SDSU got the ball on an official's review, their drive stalled and ended on a missed field goal. SDSU outplayed Air Force for a half and should have gone into the locker room with a 17-7 lead. Air Force came out in the second half and quickly grabbed the momentum back. Asher Clark scored on a tough nine yard run, and the Air Force offensive line demoralized the SDSU defensive line enroute to 401 rushing yards. Back-up inside linebacker, Justin Moore, put the game out of reach in the 4th quarter with an interception return for a touchdown. UNLV (3-3, 0-2) fell on the road to an improved Colorado State team that has finally found an identity behind the running of Gartrell Johnson. Johnson scored the winning touchdown on a 10 yard run with 9 seconds remaining. Despite the heartbreaking loss, UNLV has proved to be a tough out this year by defeating Arizona State on the road, and possessing a powerful running game keyed by Frank Summers. Summers averaged 5.3 ypc against CSU and has managed a very respectable 4.5 ypc this year. In addition to Summers, UNLV possesses what is perhaps the top receiving combo in the Mountain West with receivers Casey Flair and Ryan Wolfe. Both found the end zone against CSU, and their speed can create match-up problems for any secondary in the country.
When Air Force has the ball: Though he did not get the start last week, senior QB Shea Smith kept himself in the picture when he subbed in for Jefferson, who was knocked silly on an option keeper. The offense did not skip a beat with Smith at the helm, and a 32 yard touchdown pass to WR Josh Cousins should preserve Smith's role in the Air Force offense. Perhaps the most exciting new face for Falcon fans is freshman running back Asher Clark. Clark averaged 7.3 ypc for a net of 109 against SDSU, and showed flashes of big play ability. Clark has quick feet and plenty of strength as he is also a power lifter. Air Force's rushing attack should create some serious problems for UNLV's rushing defense which ranks 110th in the nation. Nevertheless, if Air Force is to see continued production from Clark, they must establish a passing threat. Josh Cousins has shown he has the speed and hands to create big play opportunities, but TE Travis Dekker really creates mismatch problems for defenses. Dekker has been back in the line-up for two weeks, but has yet to make an impact as a receiver. If the Falcons can keep the Rebels from crowding eight defenders into the box against the run, then the Falcon rushers could be able to pad some stats.
When UNLV has the Ball: Air Force's defense has been strong all year and they bring the nations #24 ranked defense to Las Vegas. The only game this year that the Air Force defense really struggled was late in the game against Houston's vaunted passing attack. Air Force starts a freshman, Anthony Wright, and a sophomore, Reggie Rembert, at the two corners. They will have their toughest test of the year to this point matching up against Wolfe and Flair. Air Force will have to use creative blitz packages to keep UNLV QB Omar Clayton uncomfortable in the pocket or the Air Force secondary could be in for a long night. Frank Summers burst on the scene this year when he gashed the Arizona State defense for 103 rushing yards and 52 receiving yards. However, Air Force held the nation's top rushing attack, Navy, nearly a hundred yards below their average. If Summers is to have a successful outing against the Falcons, UNLV must throw to set-up the run.
Outlook: Air Force will likely need seven wins this year if they want to go to a second straight bowl, so the game against UNLV is almost a must have. Flair and Wolfe are going to get their yards in this game, but they will not be as effective if the Air Force front seven continue to pressure the QB like they have all year. In the end, Air Force capitalizes on a late game interception and steals one from the Rebels 24-17.