FRESNO STATE VS. AIR FORCE, 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium
KEYS TO SUCCESS
FOR FRESNO STATE
Win first down and get the Falcons into second- and third-and-long. The Bulldogs will have to get Air Force off the field, which is not that easy. It averages only 14.6 third-down plays per game and ranks seventh nationally in third-down efficiency, converting 52.5% into first downs.
FOR AIR FORCE
The Falcons will have to make some plays in the passing game to keep the Fresno State defense off balance, and it doesn't necessarily take a lot of throws. In its six wins, Air Force has completed 70% of its 40 passes and in its five losses hit 53.9% of 89 passes.
Quarterback: Derek Carr
Backfield: Robbie Rouse, RB
Wide receivers: Josh Harper, Isaiah Burse, Rashad Evans, Davante Adams
Tight end: Marcel Jensen
Offensive line: Austin Wentworth, LT; Matt Hunt, LG; Richard Helepiko, C; Cody Wichmann, RG; Alex Fifita, RT
Defensive line: Nikko Motta, DE; Tyeler Davison, NG; Andy Jennings or Todd Hunt, DE
Linebackers: Tristan Okpalaugo or Shawn Plummer, OLB; Travis Brown, MLB; Jeremiah Toma, MLB; Donavon Lewis, OLB
Secondary: L.J. Jones, CB; Phillip Thomas, SS; Derron Smith, FS; Sean Alston, CB
Special teams: Quentin Breshears, PK; Garrett Swanson, KO; Andrew Shapiro, P; Chad Preacher, LS; Andrew Shapiro, PH; Isaiah Burse or Milton Knox, KR; Rashad Evans, PR
Quarterback: Connor Dietz
Backfield: Wes Cobb, RB, Cody Getz, RB
Wide receivers: Dontae Strickland or Ty MacArthur, Chris Jordan or Drew Coleman
Tight end: Austin Briehl or Marcus Hendricks
Offensive line: Jason Kons, LT; Drew Kerber, LG; Jordan Eason, C; David Lore, RG; Alex Huskisson, RT
Defensive line: Joseph Champaign, DE; Cody Miller or Nick DeJulio, DT; Alex Hansen or Nick Fitzgerald, DE
Linebackers: Alex Means, LB; Austin Niklas, MLB; James Chambers, LB; Stephan Atrice, WLB
Secondary: Chris Miller, CB; Brian Lindsay, SS; Christian Spears, FS; Steffon Batts, CB
Special teams: Parker Herrington or Briceton Cannada, PK; David Baska, P; Harrison Elliott, LS; David Baska or Tucker Tipton, H; Ty MacArthur, PR; Ty MacArthur and Chris Jordan, KR
Know your foe: Fresno State had an extra week to prepare for Air Force and its offense, making good use of a bye week after the Bulldogs beat Nevada for the first time since 2007. The Bulldogs started the process by learning the offense, not what they were going to do on defense to counter the Falcons' attack.
"You've got to help them be aware of what conceptually is happening to them. That's kind of the starting point," defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. "You can't just line up and play -- 'I've got quarterback, I've got dive, I've got pitch.' If they don't understand the concept, they're going to be in trouble because those guys are so smart, there's 1,000 different ways they can adjust that one play.
"The first thing we did was break (Air Force) down formationally and have our guys understand what an option formation is, what they're trying to do from some of their option formations and from some of their traditional formations. That's the beginning. If they line up and play like it's any down, they're going to be in trouble, so set recognition was the first thing.
"Then you go through some of the split recognition things within that. 'Hey, what are the splits in front of you telling you? What is where the back is set telling you?' And we built that up over a couple of days. Then you add in some of the personnel stuff and the situational stuff they can give you. There are probably four different levels that you go through."