Passing (1o2.3ypg – 121st in the nation)
Let’s face facts, the Air Force Academy is not a throwing team. They rely on a deceptive and well-executed rushing attack to confuse opponents and dominate time of possession. Thus far this season the passing attack has faced even greater hurdles due to a string of unlucky injuries and academic circumstances. The chosen starter, Kale Pearson, suffered a season ending knee injury in the team’s opener. The team’s second string starter, Jaleel Awini, who played well in four contests, was declared ineligible to participate in academy athletics. Karson Roberts, his replacement, suffered a concussion last week against San Diego State. Roberts was replaced by fourth string quarterback Nate Romine, who did not even dress for Air Force’s first two games(and Notre Dame fans are concerned about Andrew Hendrix). Romine will make his first start against an Irish defense coming off their most impressive performance of the season.
But there is some concern here for the Irish. Air Force’s passing game can dial up the unexpected big play. The team’s two leading receivers, Sam Gagliano and Jalen Robinette, average more than 20 yards per catch and Gagliano collected a 71 yard touchdown reception against San Diego State. Behind those two receivers on the stat sheet is veteran starter Ty MacArthur who has deceptive speed and good hands; MacArthur also contributes to the team’s running game. If Air Force’s rushing attack moves the ball, Notre Dame will load the box with their safeties which could provide Air Force with an opportunity take a shot deep and convert a big play.