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Around the Yard — Tuesday, Oct. 16: Air Force names a defensive coordinator

It’s official: John Rudzinski is the man in charge of the Falcons defense, which ranks eighth in rushing yards allowed per-game. Links also include stories from Army, Navy.

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

It’s been a mystery all season.

Who, exactly, is the defensive coordinator for the Air Force Academy’s football team?

Heading into their Oct. 6 meeting with the Falcons, the uncertainty was something that worried Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. He wasn’t sure how Air Force would defend the triple option. He and Ivin Jasper didn’t know the tendencies and patterns of whoever was calling plays for the Air Force defense.

“We’re trying to figure out who the coordinator is,” Niumatalolo told the Capital Gazette ahead of the game. “They haven’t played an option team yet so we’re not really sure.”

That day, against Navy, Air Force had one of its best performances of the season, holding the Mids to seven points and under 200 yards of total offense. The Falcons swarmed Navy’s ball carriers, forcing a fumble and tallying eight tackles-for-losses.

Air Force followed their win over Navy with a close loss to San Diego State, but the defense was strong again, forcing two turnovers and again notching eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

On Monday, Air Force lifted the veil on who was designing its defense this season. As reported by Brent Briggeman of the Colorado Springs Gazette, John Rudzinski is the man in charge of the Air Force defense.

Rudzinski has been in Colorado Springs for nine years, previously serving as recruiting coordinator, outside linebackers coach and, most recently, secondary coach. As defensive coordinator, he succeeds Steve Russ, who had been coaching at Air Force since 2012 but left this offseason to coach the Carolina Panthers’ linebackers.

Under the guidance of Rudzinski, the Falcons have the eighth best rushing defense in the nation, allowing just 101.2 yards on the ground per-game. Air Force may need to lean on its defense Friday night when it faces an inconsistent UNLV team, which has shown potential to put up points in bunches, but has also lost three straight.

More Links

Abey could be back in the mix at quarterback for Navy - Capital Gazette
Garret Lewis, Malcolm Perry or Zach Abey? The Mids have had a revolving door under center this season.

At home or on the road, Army equipment managers get job done - Army.Mil
An inside look at the duties of an equipment manager at a Service Academy.

Resurgent RedHawks ‘playing cleaner, better football’ - Journal News
Army faces a hot team this weekend, as Miami Ohio has won three of its last four games.

UH helmet stickers: Top performers vs. East Carolina - Houston Chronicle
Here’s some guys that played well for Houston this past weekend as they destroyed East Carolina. Navy will have its hands full on Saturday. (However, the last time a hot Houston team came to Annapolis, they got upset.)

UNLV’s Lexington Thomas likely to play against Air Force - Las Vegas Review Journal
The Air Force defense will be keying in on Thomas, who has rushed for 552 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Air Force safety Garrett Kauppila suffers broken bone for second straight year vs. San Diego State - Colorado Springs Gazette
Sad news for Air Force and a big blow to the Falcons defense. Kauppila has 27 tackles, four pass break-ups, a recovered fumble and a blocked punt.

Mill Creek lineman Max Mixon commits to Air Force - Gwinnett Daily Post
The Falcons get a commit from a 290 lbs. offensive lineman from metro Atlanta.