SBNation doesn't have an Air Force blog, but they do have one dedicated to the Mountain West Conference. I exchanged questions with Jeremy Mauss from Mountain West Connection about our game tomorrow with the Falcons of Air Force. My answers to his questions can be found here.
1. That Navy game was pretty crazy. Many Notre Dame fans came away terrified of Air Force, probably because of their similarity to Navy on offense. How do you think this team has done so far? Have they lived up to expectations? Is that terror justified?
I was super high on Air Force and thought they could go undefeated, but they played bad against TCU and were carved up in the secondary. I think Air Force is an above average team and should win at least nine games this year. Compared to the consensus, Air Force is right where they should be, but there was disappointment in how bad they lost to TCU. I do think Notre Dame should be afraid of the Air Force defense, because Notre Dame lost to Navy the past two years and this years Air Force team has beaten Navy the past two years. Any team will struggle against Air Force's offense, but teams that can beat Air Force need to limit the big yard plays and play assignment football. The one time some doesn't play their assignment is when Air Force will beat the defense for a big play, so Notre Dame should be worried.
2. In the ongoing conference realignment saga, Air Force has come up as a potential candidate for the Big XII and Big East. Do you think there's a chance Air Force will be changing conferences any time soon?
With the news that TCU is heading to the Big 12 I don't think Air Force is going anywhere. There is a maybe a very small chance to the Big East, but Navy would have to want to join a league and they are hesitant.
3. I think most Notre Dame fans know about Air Force's quarterback, Tim Jefferson, but who is another player on offense Irish fans should look out for? Same thing on defense.
Running back Asher Clark. He is an experience senior and is a three-time starter. This year he is second in the MWC behind only San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman in rushing yards with 382 yards, but averages 9.32 yards per carry. On defense it is linebacker Brady Amack, he had a huge game with 23 tackles against Navy, and some of that has to do with Navy running the ball a ton, but in the other game he averaged seven tackles per game. He is always near the ball and seems to be involved in a lot of plays.
4. Being a service academy, Air Force just doesn't have the size on defense most other teams have. How will they try to stop Notre Dame and their high-powered running game?
Air Force has speed to make up for the lack of size, so that is a way to counter the big offensive lineman. The Falcons will use that speed to get off the line more quickly to get around the tackles and in the backfield. Air Force usually add a linebacker to approach the line to add another defender to help stop the run. The defense swarms to the ball well and gang tackle to bring down running backs, but there will be plenty of chances for Notre Dame to break off some big runs. Depth is an issue as well for their front seven, so Notre Dame could wear them down.
5. Who ya got?
I think it will be a close game, and while I think Air Force can win I believe Notre Dame wins in a close one because of their passing game which is a big advantage going against a suspect Air Force secondary, but I'll mention this qualifier that if the Notre Dame's passing game struggles then Air Force can win.
I'll say Notre Dame 27 - Air Force 24.
Thanks again to Jeremy and Mountain West Connection! A preview of our game can be found here. Stop over and let them know what you think.