Air Force is motivated to win today’s Independence Bowl. Georgia Tech goes into the game sounding like it will be happy to find enough players to field a lineup.
Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson announced that quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, who has a broken arm, was not medically cleared and will not play against Air Force. Nesbitt is the ACC’s all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks.
Then he added that three players missed curfew and would be suspended for the first half of today’s game: starting defensive end Anthony Egbuniwe, top reserve defensive back Louis Young and backup corner and special-teams member Michael Peterson. Georgia Tech had previously announced that receiver Stephen Hill, safety Mario Edwards, defensive lineman Robert Hall and outside linebacker Anthony Barnes wouldn’t make the trip for academic reasons. Hill and Edwards are starters.
Johnson didn’t want to classify his team as depleted, however.
“I don’t know about that,” Johnson said. “I think we have guys that can still play. We have no excuses. One man’s misery is another man’s opportunity.”
On the other side, Air Force seems to have few personnel issues. Falcons coach Troy Calhoun confirmed that fullback Jared Tew, receiver Kevin Fogler and safety Brian Lindsay are likely to return from injuries, but he didn’t know how much each would be able to play.
The Falcons got a taste of winning a bowl game last year and want to repeat the experience. They beat Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl after losing Calhoun’s first two bowl appearances.
“It was real special for us to win last year,” tailback Asher Clark said. “It gave us momentum into the offseason.”
“To be able to win would be real nice,” cornerback Anthony Wright said. “We want to finish strong this year.”
Georgia Tech players said during a final bowl press conference Sunday at Independence Stadium that they had reasons to win as well. They want to finish a disappointing season strong, and the 6-6 Yellow Jackets finish with a winning record with a victory today.
The Falcons are embracing the challenge of playing a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Georgia Tech won that league last year, and played in the Orange Bowl.
“This would be huge for us,” receiver Jonathan Warzeka said. “If we’re able to compete with these BCS conference schools, it’s really going to help out our program out for years to come.”