#104 Air Force Football 2014 Preview

Air Force Falcons

Overall Rank: #104
#9 Mountain West

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Last year Coach Troy Calhoun promised to throw the ball more. For Air Force that may not mean too much since this was a team that ran the ball six times more often than they passed it. But the Falcons did reduce that ratio to about 3.5-to-1. The result was a winless year in Mountain West play and just two victories on the year…against Colgate and Army.

2013 Record: (2-10, 0-8)
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Troy Calhoun (49-41 at Air Force, 49-41 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Thiessen, Clay Hendrix
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Russ

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Broam Hart, RB, 469 yards
Passing: Nate Romine, QB, 603 yards
Receiving: Jalen Robinette, WR, 291 yards
Tackles: Christian Spears, DB, 92
Sacks: David Harris, DL, 2.5
Interceptions: Christian Spears, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: QB Karson Roberts, RB Jon Lee, WR Sam Gagliano, WR Garrett Brown, TE Marcus Hendricks, DB Dexter Walker, LB Joey Nichols, K Will Conant

Key Losses: RB Anthony LaCoste, CB Steffon Batts

The good news for the offense is that Nate Romine emerged as the most efficient passer on the team by the end of the year. He threw for 603 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Karson Roberts will likely be in the mix as well. Roberts is a better runner and that is enough for Coach Calhoun to at least give him some plays. And then there is Kale Pearson, who earned the starting job last year but was injured early in the season. He never got a chance to show his stuff and could easily win the starting job again this time around. But the key for the offense could be replacing running back Anthony LaCoste. Air Force got one big year out of him as he stepped up to fill the void in 2013. Now Broam Hart and Jon Lee are expected to do the same. Lee is the more explosive option, but Hart’s toughness will help the Falcons form a more dynamic ground game then they had last year.

The defense did not get much help from the offense in 2013, but they had plenty of problems of their own. The unit allowed 40 points per game. It is hard to win when your ground based offense has to score that much. The secondary was the strength last year and that could be the case again this time around with safeties Christian Spears and Dexter Walker leading the way. However, covering big receivers also seems to be a problem for Air Force and finding effective replacements at both corner spots is an issue. The front seven has some experience now and a year in the system can only help. But they did a horrid job getting to the quarterback and allowed most opponents to run right through them.

The Bottom Line:
There should be improvement on both sides of the ball, but not as much as Air Force fans would hope. The non-conference slate should result in a few wins and it would be surprising if the Falcons ended up at 0-8 in conference again. They should be able to at least beat New Mexico at home and give Wyoming and UNLV games on the road. But 4-8 or 5-7 overall is not good enough for a program that was disappointed to lose a couple low level bowls in 2011 and 2012.

Projected Bowl: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 262.7 (12th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 104.9 (121, 12)
Total Offense: 367.6 (91, 12)
Scoring Offense: 24.7 (91, 12)
Rushing Defense: 250.6 (119, 10)
Pass Defense: 239.7 (77, 3)
Total Defense: 490.3 (114, 9)
Scoring Defense: 40.0 (116, 11)
Turnover Margin: -0.3 (86, 7)
Sacks: 1.17 (115, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 0.75 (4, 1)


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