The Air Force Falcons have been loudly banging on the upper echelon of the Mountain West Conference for a few years now. Sadly for the Falcons they cannot seem to get into the top echelon and seem to sit in a group of their own every week as we do rankings. Clearly they are better then the Wyoming's and Aztecs' of the league but not quite as good as Utah or TCU. This year they will be looking to step up with a tough game at Oklahoma and home games against BYU, Utah, and Navy. A win in one or two of those games could vault them into the top teams of the Mountain West.
On offense expect the same run run run triple option method of coach Troy Calhoun. This will be lead by junior quarterback Tim Jefferson. Jefferson had some injury troubles last year missing three games, most notably the two close games against Utah and TCU. Anytime a QB has 88 rushing attempts in 10 games you can expect some injury concerns. The Falcons back him up with Junior Connor Dietz who does well as a back up. The leading rusher should wind up being last years leading rusher Jared Tew. Getting the rest of the carries will be Asher Clark and Savier Stephens. The offense didn't lose any rushing attempts, passing attempts, and only 8 catches to graduation from last years team so look for a high level of productivity. The team is returning 100% of its scoring according to the Falcons official site.
Catch more after The Jump
Defense is a bit of a different story as they only return five starters. Finding more then half of a new defense is never easy. With 22 turnovers last season the Falcons lead FBS. They return their top defensive back in Anthony Wright JR who had seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The Falcons did lose Chris Thomas who had five interceptions and lead the DB's in tackles with 57 total. The linebackers and defensive line will have to establish themselves as they lost the most talent. DL Ben Garland left along with the two leading tacklers, linebackers John Falgout and Justin Moore. Rick Ricketts has the most experience on the defensive line and will need to be strong for the Falcons to succeed.
5 to watch
Anthony Wright Jr DB- With seven interceptions and two touchdowns Wright Jr is an explosive and exciting player on defense.
Jered Tew RB- He nearly broke the 1000 yard mark last year and lead the team in touchdowns.
Tim Jefferson QB - His success and health could determine if the Falcons break into the top tier of the Mountain West.
Kevin Fogler WR - When the Falcons did throw the ball they went to Fogler a majority of the time as he managed 5 touchdowns on 25 catches.
Savier Stephens RB - He only had 417 yards last year and is third on the depth chart behind Tew and Clark but he is explosive and fun to watch run the ball.
The best case in my eyes is the Falcons win all of their big three games at home against BYU, Utah, and Navy. They take the two tough losses on the road against Oklahoma and TCU and end up at 10-2 and somewhere in the mix of the top MWC teams and looking for a very good bowl game. They could possibly scrape one of those away games if Oklahoma or TCU has a bad day. Depending if everyone in the MWC beats each other up at the top they could tie for the conference championship.
This isn't to far away from the best case scenario which speaks to the strength and depth of the Falcons under Troy Calhoun. They drop the big games against those five teams mentioned above and at worst drop another to a MWC foe under them the last few years and end up at 6-6. The trap game mentioned here against Wyoming could be the worst case scenario for the Falcons.
The Falcons have high expectations but also won't be looked down on if they don't break into the top tier of the Mountain West Conference. I would expect them the come in at a very good 8-4 with a big win against Navy at home but still dropping to the top three teams and Oklahoma. That BYU game at home early will show us a lot about what Falcon team we are going to see all year. If the Falcons beat BYU at home then a 10-2 record wouldn't be a crazy thought.
Falcons Football Schedule
|Northwestern St.||Sat 09/04||11:00 AM PDT|
|BYU||Sat 09/11||1:00 PM PDT|
|@ Oklahoma||Sat 09/18||12:30 PM PDT|
|@ Wyoming||Sat 09/25||11:00 AM PDT|
|Navy||Sat 10/02||11:30 AM PDT|
|Colorado St.||Sat 10/09||11:00 AM PDT|
|@ San Diego St.||Sat 10/16||5:00 PM PDT|
|@ TCU||Sat 10/23||5:00 PM PDT|
|Utah||Sat 10/30||4:30 PM PDT|
|@ Army||Sat 11/06||9:00 AM PDT|
|New Mexico||Sat 11/13||3:00 PM PST|
|@ UNLV||Thu 11/18||7:00 PM PST|