#71 Air Force Football 2013 Preview

Air Force Falcons
Overall Rank: #71
#6 Mountain West
 Air Force Logo

When teams play Air Force, there are no surprises. They know what the Falcons are good at and what they are bad at. Opponents know what to game-plan for and what can be completely ignored. This has been the case for years under Head Coach Troy Calhoun. He has had reasonable success considering the circumstances but Air Force is by no means a conference power. The fact is Calhoun will not bring in the best players no matter how good his recruiting tactics are because said players would still be becoming members of a service academy. That being said, Air Force, like Army and Navy, does not have to abide by normal NCAA recruitment rules. This team lost a large amount of seniors but should be able to replenish their ranks, pardon the pun, rather effortlessly and the Air Force Falcons will be back to what they always are, each and every season.
2012 Record: (6-7, 5-3)
2012 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl vs. Rice (L 14-33)
Coach: Troy Calhoun (47-31 at Air Force, 47-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Blane Morgan
Defensive Coordinator: Charlton Warren
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jonathan Lee, RB, 545 yards
Passing: Kale Pearson, QB, 128 yards
Receiving: Ty MacArthur, WR, 411 yards
Tackles: Christian Spears, DB, 91
Sacks: Alex Hansen, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Steffon Batts, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: OL Drew Kerber, OL David Lore, OL Harrison Elliot, DL Joseph Champaign, LB Jared Jones, DB Chris Miller
Key Losses: QB Connor Dietz, RB Cody Getz, RB Wes Cobb, LB Niklas Austin, LB Alex Means, LB James Chambers, DB Brian Lindsay
There is really only one thing Air Force is good at season after season, year after year: running the football from the triple option. In 2012, they finished first in their conference and second in the nation in rushing, putting up over 315 yards per game. The team's rushing attack was led by a few seniors, running backs Cody Getz and Wes Cobb and quarterback Connor Dietz. Although all three have graduated, returning rushing leader Jon Lee should be ready to take on a greater responsibility. He will also be backed up by a number of capable carriers. Last season, Air Force had nine different men carry the ball at least 25 times. This coming season should be no different. Calhoun's teams have never finished worse than fifth in the nation in rushing. This is what they do; this is what they're good at. With such a one dimensional offense, it goes that the Falcons would also be excellent at not allowing sacks. This has little to do with their o-line's pass blocking prowess and everything to do with the amount of times the team actually drops back to throw a pass.
We've established that running the ball is a strength; Air Force is pretty bad at everything else. They threw the ball so little last season, no receiver had more yards than their returning leader Ty MacArthur's 411. The passing game is simply not a threat that opposing defenses have to worry about. Air Force doesn't really even throw enough passes to keep defenses honest. They just throw if they have no other choice; if the triple option rush attack cannot possibly be used for a conversion. This inability to stretch defenses keeps Air Force's scoring down as well as their creativity. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons defense is just not very good. Whether because of coaching miscues or talent disparity, Air Force struggles to stop the teams they play: a rather important shortcoming in the game of football, especially since their schedule rarely includes many powerhouse schools. A few key losses from the starting defense will not help matters in 2013. Team leaders Niklas Austin and Alex Means were both seniors, as were key contributors James Chambers and Brian Lindsay. Coach Calhoun will again have to rely on reloading his roster here to overcome senior losses.
The Bottom Line:
Their outlook is not much different from where it was a season ago. The players will change for a team that relies heavily on senior leadership and production but the overarching theme remains the same. Air Force can run the ball over, around and through anyone. They cannot pass and rarely mount come-from-behind victories. They are good at home and bad on the road. Their defense is average for the Mountain West and their finish will probably be the same, hovering around the middle of the pack. A lower tier bowl berth should be the expectation.
Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl
2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 316.23 (2nd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 102.62 (118, 9)
Total Offense: 418.85 (51, 3)
Scoring Offense: 27.38 (71, 5)
Rushing Defense: 198.77 (99, 6)
Pass Defense: 210.62 (35, 5)
Total Defense: 409.38 (72, 6)
Scoring Defense: 29.00 (71, 4)
Turnover Margin: -1.00 (106, 9)
Sacks: 1.31 (105, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 0.62 (3, 1)