Falcons ready to Cal test
By Art Garcia, www.armedforcesbowl.com
Air Force quarterback Karson Roberts expects a stiff challenge from Cal's defense once the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl gets underway Tuesday.
"They are really good defensively," Roberts said. "They are very athletic and are big up front. They are big in the secondary and linebacker level, as well. We are going to have to go execute our stuff out there, make the right reads and put them on the ground in terms of cut blocks."
The Falcons (8-5) are used to facing attacking defenses in the Mountain West, but the Golden Bears (7-5) bring something extra to Amon Carter Stadium at for the 1 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPN.
"We have seen similar styles, but in terms of personal they are a very athletic group," said Roberts, who started the last 11 games after a season-ending injury to Nate Romine. "They play in the Pac-12 Conference and have some very athletic guys there, probably more so than the Mountain West and the players we have seen. It will be a good challenge for us."
Air Force's offense is third in the nation in rushing at 321.1 yards per game. Roberts was one of 12 quarterbacks in the FBS to rush, pass and catch a touchdown this season. The Houston native completed 70-of-134 passes for 1,446 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Air Force defense also faces a stout task against Cal quarterback Jared Goff and the rest of the Bears' offense. The Falcons ranked 19th nationally in defense, allowing 337.1 yards per game.
"We're going through our ordinary preparations," Air Force defensive lineman Alex Hansen said. "We know [Jared] can execute and make plays at a high level, so we're doing our same thing and making sure that we're always fully aware of what he is capable of, and what the whole team is capable of."
The Falcons are in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl for the fifth time. Air Forces ended the season with two consecutive losses after a five-game winning streak, so finishing the season on high note is motivation.
"Obviously this game means a lot to us, and I think it just goes back to what we do every day," Hansen said. "We need to execute, we need to work hard and make sure that we keep our heads up in this game. We've had a lot of time off, so we'll see how we return to our fundamentals in this game. It's going to be a total effort from all of us, playing hard and doing what we need to do."