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Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force D and Run Game Was Too Much For Depleted James Madison

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl - James Madison v Air Force Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

James Madison came into the postseason as one of the hottest teams in college football, However, due in large part to absences of key players throughout the JMU roster, they weren’t able to overcome the challenge of the Air Force Falcons in Saturday’s Armed Forces Bowl.

“I am frustrated at the loss and proud of the team,” JMU Interim Head Coach Damian Wroblewski said postgame. “I am aggravated of our execution at times and consistency of execution at times. I am so thankful and joyful in leading these guys. It has been a joy as their coach to watch them and I hope they are all better men after these three weeks.”

Air Force’s option offense rushed for 351 yards in the win, including 203 from fullback Emmanuel Michel. They averaged 5.6 yards per carry against the JMU defense that was missing key players, who have transferred to Indiana and other destinations.

“We did all that we could considering the circumstances. When you have the varsity coming at you first drive, I wasn’t surprised by that. I thought our kids adjusted well. They are in good shape as well. They had some big stops and put us in position but our execution wasn’t consistent enough when it comes to the fundamentals of the game.”

Offensively for JMU, the Dukes were held to a performance far below their standard as well. Without names like former running back Ty Son Lawton, plus blocking issues by the offensive line, the Dukes net just 26 yards on the ground and allowed four sacks.

“We had 30 to 40 yards rushing and if you watch the running plays, you will think they are ok,” Wroblewski stated. “But the negative plays, you can’t go backwards and that is where my frustration lies. The protection was fundamentally not where we needed to be. Those negative plays got us behind the sticks and then we had to play catch up, and that is not an easy thing.”

JMU finish their second season in FBS with a bowl appearance and an 11-2 overall record. Bob Chesney takes over at head coach after Curt Cignetti’s departure to Indiana. They will officially exit the FCS-to-FBS period next season and be eligible for the Sun Belt title.