We take a break from the re-shuffling of college football to return to action on the field. After their first bye week in four years, the Air Force Falcons return to action Saturday afternoon against Tennessee State at Falcon Stadium. This will be the first meeting between the Falcons and the Tigers from the Ohio Valley Conference.
TSU shouldn't be to unfamiliar to most football fans as two of their alums were making news in August. Richard Dent, a 1983 graduate and star defensive end of the Nashville, TN school was an eighth round draft choice of the Chicago Bears, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. The other is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a 2008 first round pick of the Arizona Cardinals was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL's most widely talked about move of the offseason. But neither Dent or Rodgers-Cromartie, nor any of the more than 100 Tigers drafted into the NFL will be walking out on the field Saturday to face Air Force.
The bye week for the Falcons came at a bad time for the players, who failed to execute in the highly anticipated week two match-up with Texas Christian. Many undoubtedly wanted to get right back out on the field last week and forget all about their lackluster performance. But for Troy Calhoun and his coaching staff, the bye week gave them some extra training camp type practices to work out the kinks. Unfortunately thouh time was also spent by Calhoun to find some replacements for LB Patrick Hennessey, and NT Ryan Gardner who were likely lost for most, if not all, of the remainder of the season against TCU. Sophomore Jamil Cooks and junior Cody Miller will start filling in respectively this week.
Tennessee State, like TCU, has been getting burned by opposition passing attacks. The Tigers have allowed an average of 410 yards per game through the air. But don't expect Air Force to automatically decide to exploit their secondary. No, the Falcons will get back to basics in this game. Think of it as a re-start to the season. After all, Calhoun wants to start the season against an FCS school on parent's weekend at the Academy, This week should be treated as such and get a fresh re-start. I expect to see better tackling and greater focus by the Falcons after showing a lack of both in the first two games. Calhoun didn't take it easy on his players during the off week. There were practices in full pads with game simulated action and hitting.
The Falcons are upset with their showing so far this season and will take it out on TSU. But like their opening week match-up with South Dakota, the Falcons have a big game following the next week. Air Force takes on Navy next week in the first road game of the year. Will the focus be there the entire game or will they start thinking about the Midshipmen in the second half against the Tigers like they appeared to be thinking about TCU during the second half against the Coyotes? With the way this season has gone, I just don't know what to expect. The Falcons should win handily, but until they show they are paying 100% attention on an underdog opponent, nothing is for certain.
Air Force should right the ship and blowout the Tigers in this one. If they do, then the expectations the Falcons had at the start of the season should still remain. But if they get up big and the go through the motions in the second half like week one, then Falcon fans should be prepared for a long season of wondering if they will ever put it all together in a game.