Air Force triple-option awaits San Diego St.

The San Diego State Aztecs know exactly what’s coming at them

Saturday night when they host the No. 23 Air Force Falcons.

The Falcons (5-1, 3-0 Mountain West) will run their

triple-option at the Aztecs all night, perhaps mixing in some

passes to try to further confuse the Aztecs (3-2, 0-1). Air Force

leads the nation in rushing at 352.7 yards per game.

”They’re awfully committed to what they do,” SDSU coach Brady

Hoke said. ”That’s going to be a task.”

The Aztecs know all too well what happens when they give up a

lot of yards. They lost 24-21 at BYU last Saturday after letting

the Cougars run for 271 yards. The Aztecs also were victimized by a

botched replay of an apparent BYU fumble in the second half.

”We didn’t tackle well, and got a little bit knocked out of

there at times,” said Hoke, who doubles as the Aztecs’ defensive

line coach. ”Some of that, with the threat of the throw game that

they have, is still always there. But we just didn’t do a good job

at the line of scrimmage and tackle.”

The Aztecs always know they’ll be up against the triple-option

when they play Air Force.

The key, Hoke said, is to ”stop the fullback. You’ve got to be

disciplined. But that fullback, you’ve got to take him out of the

game. That’s where it starts. If you can pound and take him away,

then you help yourself. They’ve got good fullbacks. Both those kids

are good football players, strong, tough guys, which you have to be

in that offense. But you’ve got to start there, and try to make

them a little more two-dimensional with speed options and those

kind of things.”

Fullback Jared Tew has 524 yards and three touchdowns. Tailback

Asher Clark has 548 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tim

Jefferson has run for seven touchdowns and 376 yards.

Jefferson also gives the Falcons a deep passing threat.

Jefferson threw for 160 yards and hooked up with Zach Kauth for two

scores in a 49-27 rout of Colorado State last Saturday. The Rams

said they were thrown off guard when the Falcons came out throwing,

and Jefferson set up two touchdowns with completions of 51 and 39

yards.

The Aztecs didn’t allow Air Force an offensive touchdown last

year. But the Aztecs gave up touchdowns on a fumble return and an

interception return, and had six turnovers altogether in the 26-14

loss.

San Diego State also has a pretty good running back. Freshman

Ronnie Hillman is 12th in the nation and second among freshmen in

rushing yards per game at 118.8. He’s eighth nationally with eight

touchdowns. His 228 yards at Missouri were the seventh-highest

total in the country this season. He also has two 100-yard

games.

”We get to play a heck of an opponent this week,” Air Force

coach Troy Calhoun said. ”It’s an extremely capable team, a group

that across the board has tremendous skill and size and is

literally two plays away from being undefeated and ranked in the

Top 20. One was a reviewed fumble and the other one was a block in

the back. They are a darn good football team.”

SDSU led Missouri in the fourth quarter before losing 27-24.

Calhoun said he’s impressed with SDSU’s talent, including

Hillman, quarterback Ryan Lindley and receiver Vincent Brown.

”I’ve always thought that San Diego State was a place where in

football you can win eight games easily every year … just because

of the talent base that you have within two hours,” Calhoun

said.

”I would compare their offense to Oklahoma,” Calhoun said,

referring to the only team to beat the Falcons this year, ”just

because they are on the same level in terms of talent. Oklahoma had

(DeMarco) Murray and San Diego State has Hillman. This quarterback

is more polished, more of a true NFL-style quarterback and then

they have two receivers. Oklahoma had one good receiver. They have

two at San Diego State.”

Brown has 26 catches for 433 yards and three touchdowns, while

DeMarco Sampson has 23 catches for 420 yards and two TDs. Lindley’s

thrown for 1,394 yards and nine scores.