Connor Dietz is gone, and that means the flexbone needs to figure out a whole lot very quickly. Obviously Dietz was the team's leading passer (1,131 yards), but he was also the second-leading rusher (705 yards). In limited time on the field, presumed 2013 starter Kale Pearson was none too impressive, throwing four picks on 29 attempts -- which opens the door for some questions come the fall. Should Pearson falter out of the gate, Jaleel Awini appears more than capable of stepping stepping in, though it'll be a big shift for the offense. Awini is a traditional passer, while Pearson's similar to Dietz (a runner). With so much new personnel though, maybe a change is a good thing. Keep tabs on this battle as camp wraps up and the games start.
Depth Chart Projection: Pearson | Awini | Karson Roberts
More overhaul at this spot too, with Cody Getz and his 1,200-plus rushing yards out of the fold. From the looks of the published depth chart, senior Anthony LaCoste has a slide edge over Jon Lee, but I'm unsure if that holds. With only 15 career carries, LaCoste must prove a lot to beat out a player like Lee, who tallied 545 yards in 2012. Both are finesse runners for the most part, so they'll be competing for touches within the playbook. Broam Hart, on the other hand, should be able to differentiate himself as the team's top goal line option at fullback. Expect at least two of these three on the field during most offensive plays.
Depth Chart Projection: Lee | Hart | LaCoste | Bryan Driskell
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The saving grace for Pearson or Awini at quarterback is that last year's top receiver, Ty MacArthur, returns to make the transition a bit easier. The bad part? He still only hauled in 24 catches. Jon Lee will be used as a receiver out of the backfield to help matters, with Colt Huntsman and Sam Gagliano serving roles fairly similar to MacArthur. Junior wideout Christian Gann may be able to separate himself as the team's lone deep option (he's 6'4" and 205 pounds), but that's much more likely if Awini's under center. The tight end spot should be very important once again from a blocking standpoint, though I'm not sold on the position just being eliminated from the passing game. At 6'6" and 235 pounds, veteran TE Marcus Hendricks provides a big target, so long as he can catch the ball (seven catches on 14 targets last year).
Depth Chart Projection:
WR-X: MacArthur | Gann | Huntsman | Galgiano
TE: Hendricks | Garrett Griffin | Pete Cender
Not a whole lot of depth or experience on the line for Air Force, which is concerning. The Falcons said goodbye to last year's starting center, left tackle and right tackle -- problematic if you're breaking in a new QB and RB. As a result, guard Drew Kerber's the new leader of this group; his 13 career starts nearly equaling the total of the remainder of the linemen (16, between four different players). At guard and center, they'll be okay, but I'm highly pessimistic of the tackle situation as it stands right now. Jerry Henry and Matt Rochell, the two slated starters right now, are 255 and 245 pounds respectively, with zero starts between them.
Depth Chart Projection:
RT: Henry | Jimmy Manual
C: Austin Hayes | David Jones
LG: Kerber | Michael Husar
LT: Rochell | Taylor Cooksey