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New-look James Madison aims to jolt Air Force in Armed Forces Bowl

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Just two weeks after being brought in as James Madison’s new head coach, Bob Chesney is looking forward to seeing what the Dukes can do in their first bowl game in program history.

However, Chesney won’t be calling the shots when James Madison faces Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dukes offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski will serve as acting head coach with Chesney getting settled in after six seasons at Holy Cross. Chesney was hired on Dec. 7 and is taking over for Curt Cignetti, now the head coach at Indiana.

Chesney has made it clear he doesn’t intend to toy with Wroblewski’s game plan for Saturday.

“I’m not gonna get involved in things I see schematically,” Chesney said at his introductory press conference. “For me, it’s really gonna be about just evaluating our coaches, evaluating our players and … building those relationships.

“I will watch energy, I will watch effort and I will watch our competitive spirit.”

Wroblewski has assembled a coalition of coaches to help James Madison (11-1) prepare for the Falcons, adding John Reagan, Brian Ginn, John Strollo, Matt Hachmann and Stone Mannello to his staff.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever find the words of gratitude and thanks for these people,” Wroblewski said. “But they left their families, they left their jobs to come be here for three weeks with us and help us have a great bowl experience.”

Strollo and Hachmann are responsible for helping the Dukes get ready for Air Force’s triple option. The Falcons (8-4), who have lost four in a row after an 8-0 start, ranked second among FBS teams in total rushing yards (3,309) and rushing yards per game (275.8) during the regular season.

Fullback Emmanuel Michel headlined the rushing attack, racking up 747 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Running back John Lee Eldridge III, who totaled 521 rushing yards and six scores, is in the transfer portal and will not play against James Madison.

Air Force starting quarterback Zac Larrier is expected to be under center after missing the past two games with an undisclosed injury.

A trip to Fort Worth will feel like a homecoming of sorts for the 16 players on the Falcons’ roster who hail from the Lone Star State. Loading up with talent from Texas is no mistake, according to Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

“We are a national school. You look, certainly, our roster, we’re represented from all five time zones,” Calhoun said. “But the most prevalent is right here from the Lone Star State in Texas. That’s where I am right now. That’s where I spend a good bit of time whenever it is we do have the opportunity to go into homes.”

Air Force will play in the Armed Forces Bowl for the seventh time in program history. In last year’s game, the Falcons doubled up Baylor 30-15 to improve to 2-4 in the event.

Air Force is 15-13-1 overall in bowl games.

–Field Level Media

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