Editors note: This was written by airforcetwo, but there was technical difficulties on their end.
The unraveling of the Air Force Falcons defense continued Thursday night as the San Diego State Aztecs broke a 17-17 tie at halftime and routed the cadets 41-27. SDSU running back Ronnie Hillman responded after his poor performance against TCU last Saturday with a 27 carry, 172 yard output finding the end zone twice in the fourth quarter sending the Falcon faithful to the exits.
When Hillman wasn't running around, over, and through the Air Force defense, quarterback Ryan Lindley was busy doing his own surgery. The senior was 15 of 21 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Lindley did as both Casey Pachall and Tommy Rees accomplished in Air Force's two previous losses. All three took advantage of the Air Force secondary's soft pass coverage and found open receivers with regularity on 5 to 10 yard in-routes and slants.
One would think that the Air Force coaching staff would have recognized this from game film earlier in the season, but that simply wasn't the case. It seems that the in-game adjustments that Troy Calhoun and his coaching staff were know for during his first four years at the academy are not there this year. Or perhaps the coaches simply do not trust their secondary to make plays one on one.
San Diego State has shown a propensity to force turnovers all season long and that continued as well Thursday, forcing a fumble and two interceptions that sealed the Falcons fate in the second half. Of course Air Force has now turned it over 13 times this season. When the offense is giving away opportunities like this and the defense hasn't shown any signs of stopping the opponent no matter where their drive starts, prospects for a successful season begin to slip away.
San Diego State claimed their status among the top three of the Mountain West while Air Force is wondering what has happened to a season that was billed with such promise before it started. Winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy is the number one stated goal of the Falcons, but may be the only goal they achieve this season. Starting out 0-2 in conference against two of the top three eliminates their league title hopes. Now the question becomes can the third goal still be met, reaching a bowl game. The Falcons likely won't know where there season is headed until after their brutal October stretch ends next Saturday against the Mountain West's newest member Boise State. If the defense can't change its ways, 70 points may not be out of the question for the Broncos. The schedule does ease up after that, but all of the offensive coordinators for Air Force's final five opponents have to be licking their chops at the prospects of the match-ups.
At 3-3, doubt has replaced dreams of a magical season for Air Force. And after Thursday's game, many Falcon fans aren't going to be too excited about tuning in to a blue turf massacre in Boise. Instead, they will be asking, "can we just skip ahead and play New Mexico instead?"
Will the Air Force players and coaches feel the same way, too?