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2021 First Responder Bowl Opponent Breakdown: Air Force Defense

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NCAA Football: Utah State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville offense will be up against it this week when they take on the Air Force Falcons. They will be facing a defense that has done a great job this season of limiting opponents on the ground and in the air. However, the Falcons haven’t faced an offense like Louisville’s. The performance of this group will likely be the biggest factor in the game. They will have to play their best game of the year.

Jordan Jackson is the key man up front for the Falcons. The 6-5/285 nose guard has 10 tackles for loss this season and he is always around the ball when you watch the defense play. Christopher Herrera has also had a strong season for this three-man front. This group doesn’t carry a lot of bulk but they are very long which helps them handle blockers.

Air Force has one of the most productive edge players in the country in Vince Sanford. He has 17 tackles for loss on the year which includes 9.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. He has consistently made plays in the backfield this year and will be a focal point for Louisville. The rest of the linebackers have not made many impact plays but the Falcons are good on this side of the ball because they rarely make errors. The linebackers are always in the right spots and make it very hard to run the ball between the numbers. Where I have seen teams have success is working the edges with speed. I would expect UofL to do the same.

The secondary is solid but not too special for the Falcons. Tre Bugg impressed me in the games I watched as he does a good job of staying sticky with receivers and his size helps him make plays on the ball and receiver. Where he, and the secondary in general, struggle is when they have to match up with speedy receivers. They are near the worst in the country when it comes to giving up explosive passing plays. I would imagine, Scott Satterfield looks to get his speedy receivers behind this defense.