#71 Air Force Football 2012 Preview

Air Force Falcons

2012 Overall Rank: #71
#5 Mountain West
Air Force College Football 2012 Team Preview
Air Force Team Page


Despite reaching a bowl game, the 2011 season was a disappointing one for Air Force. Coach Troy Calhoun had a very experienced squad led by four year starting quarterback Tim Jefferson. He also had the Falcons third ever 1,000 yard rusher in Asher Clark. However, the Air Force defense let them down and the Falcons finished with a 3-4 record in Mountain West play.

2011 Record: (7-6, 3-4)
2011 Bowl: Military Bowl vs. Toledo (L 41-42)
Coach: Troy Calhoun (41-24 at Air Force, 41-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Clay Hendrix, Blaine Morgan and Mike Thiessen
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Russ and Charlton Warren

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mike DeWitt, FB, 567 yards
Passing: Connor Dietz, QB, 128 yards
Receiving: Mikel Hunter, WR, 244 yards
Tackles: Alex Means, LB, 77
Sacks: Alex Means, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: Jamil Cooks, LB, 1; Alex Means, LB, 1; Austin Niklas, LB, 1; Anthony Wooding, S, 1

Other Key Returnees: G Jordan Eason, DT Nick Fitzgerald, K Parker Harrington, OT Jason Kons

Key Losses: LB Brady Amack, RB Asher Clark, S Jon Davis, LB Patrick Hennessey, C Michael Hester, QB Tim Jefferson, WR Zack Kauth, LB Jordan Waiwaiole, WR Jonathan Warzeka, CB Anthony Wright

Even without Jefferson and Clark, this is a tough offense. The option is never easy to defend and the Falcons have the pieces to once again rank in the top ten nationally in rushing yards. Fullback Mike DeWitt is the team’s best returning rusher and ran for a team high 12 touchdowns last year. Wes Cobb had 100 carries last season and is ready to become the premiere back. Senior Cody Getz should be a fine complimentary back to Cobb and DeWitt. And of course there is always the quarterback who will do their fair share of running. And in this case Connor Dietz may do a lot more running than passing. Dietz, a 6-0 senior, has played pretty well as Jefferson’s backup, but he is not as good of a passer. Without leading receivers Zack Kauth and Jonathan Wazeka, the passing attack may be pretty bad. But that may not matter too much to Air Force. Occasionally the Falcons will have to go to the air to receivers like Mikel Hunter, but this is an option offense that would always prefer to keep the ball on the ground.

Air Force did a decent job of stopping the pass, but they were awful against the run in 2011. With only a handful of starters returning, the Falcons defense will struggle early. A shakeup in the coaching staff may not help either. Linebacker Alex Means, who is the team’s returning leader in tackles and sacks, will have to emerge as a leader. Seniors Austin Niklas, Josh Chambers and Josh Kusan will battle for minutes at the two inside linebacker spots in the Falcons 3-4 scheme and how well they can stop the run will make a huge difference. The front three will have to do their part as well. Nick Fitzgerald and Joseph Champaign are promising sophomores, but they will need to produce right away. The secondary will break in quite a few new starters, but they do return Anthony Wooding. Wooding has more experience than most juniors at Air Force and he will be looked upon to develop into the leader of the secondary while new starters are found to fill in around him.

The Bottom Line:
It may sound like this Air Force team should be relatively bad. And that may be the case. However, the Falcons have the advantage of facing a lot of new teams in the Mountain West. While this team lacks experience and may need some time to get the option offense moving efficiently, the opposition who has never seen this offense before will need even more time. Not having Boise State on the schedule does not hurt either.

Projected Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 314.77 (3rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 140.08 (113, 7)
Total Offense: 454.85 (22, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.92 (19, 3)
Rushing Defense: 219.69 (109, 5)
Pass Defense: 166.77 (6, 1)
Total Defense: 386.46 (65, 3)
Scoring Defense: 28.38 (72, 5)
Turnover Margin: .00 (59, 6)
Sacks: 1.38 (98, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 0.77 (5, 2)