You saw my preview and prediction for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. Now here are three keys for Air Force:
1. Rhythm of the offense. The triple-option is predicated on timing, so we’ll see how Air Force does after a month off. Tim Jefferson has had an outstanding season, and he may have two of his biggest playmakers back from injury – fullback Jared Tew and receiver Kevin Fogler. Tew missed the last five games of the season with a broken leg and was an integral part of the offense when he went down. Nathan Walker has filled in well. Fogler has missed most of the season with a knee injury. Coach Troy Calhoun has been noncommittal about whether Tew and Fogler will play.
2. Depth on the defensive line. Air Force had some key injures in the regular-season finale against UNLV. Starting end Zach Payne and noseguard Bradley Connor got hurt and both are most likely out against Georgia Tech. The Falcons were already without defensive end Wylie Wikstrom. Falcons coaches acknowledge they will be a little undermanned going into the game, but they have confidence in the players who will be filling in. The question is how the rotation handles the relentless triple-option attack.
3. Special teams. If this game comes down to a field goal, it will be interesting to see what Calhoun decides to do. Erik Soderberg has struggled, and was replaced by Zack Bell in the regular-season finale against UNLV. Calhoun said in the lead-up to the Independence Bowl that he might split the kickoff, extra point and field goal duties. Soderberg has made only five of 10 field goals this season and is 0-for-4 beyond 40 yards. Bell hasn’t attempted a field goal all season, but made five extra points against UNLV.