Sunday, July 9, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Air Force Falcons
Air Force Falcons
The Falcons graduated their largest senior class ever after last season, and with that class, they lost some of the best players to have ever played at the Academy. Now Troy Calhoun is going to have to do his best coaching job in his stint at Air Force if he is to get this team even close to chasing 10 wins again this fall. There is enough talent on offense to compensate, but with 10 starters gone on defense, can the Falcons compete in the MWC Mountain Division in 2017?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
The Falcons get the interesting and happy dilemma of having two returning starting QBs who both do very different things for their offense. Arion Worthman took over just over midway through the season in 2016, and is a flashy runner who really drives the option offense forward. He was instrumental last season in helping the staff realize that the offense is best served when running the football is a priority, and Worthman handles that role like a pro. Nate Romine also returns, and is the passer to Worthman's runner. Romine was not nearly successful when it came to running the ball, as he averaged under three yards per carry last fall. Where Worthman edges ahead is with his performance in the Arizona Bowl, where he showed that, when necessary, he could toss the rock, as he did in the win over South Alabama, by passing for 207 yards in a 24 point win.
Tim McVey returns at TB, and he is one of the best that Air Force has every had, and one of the most explosive. He holds the career record for yards per rushing attempt at 8.4, and also has a craeer yards per catch record at 27.8. His 26 TDs has him ranking 10th all-time on the Air Force records. He finished with 708 yards rushing last fall, and scored 10 times, while averaging 8.53 yards per carry.
The Falcons will be set at the Tackles and at Center when it comes to the line, as Jake Barnhorst and James Rast return at the OT spots, and Alex Norton is back at Center.
Luke Strebel returns, and was one of the best kickers in the nation last fall, hitting 22/25 attempts on the season.
What To Be concerned About: Offense
Jalen Robinette is gone at WR, and was an all-time great at the Academy. Three receivers are battling to replace him in Jake Malkovich, Marcus Bennett, and Geraud Sanders. Tyler Williams, who is a returning starter, caught just six passes last fall.
The Falcons will also be seeking new starters on the interior line, as both Guard spots are open as we approach fall camp. Ryan Beveridge and Griffin Landrum are the leaders for those jobs as we head to camp.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
There is next to nothing to be certain about as we approach the 2017 season on defense for the Falcons, as LB Grant Ross is the lone returning starter in the entire unit. Ross finished with 68 tackles last season, which was good for third on the team. He also added 6.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The simple answer here is everything. 10 new starters need to be identified. Santo Coppola is going to get the nod at DE as a senior, while fellow senior Cody Moorhead will start at DT. Mosese Fifita, a sophomore, will be the leader at NG as we head to camp.
Three new starters must be found at LB, with Ross taking up one of the inside spots. He will be joined inside by Shaquille Vereen, a senior. The outside backers as of now look to be RJ Jackson and Jack Flor.
The entire secondary is getting replaced. Marquis Griffin and Dailen Sutton have the edge at CB, while Kyle Floyd and James Jones IV are the leaders at the Safety spots.
The Falcons also will be needing a new Punter, which appears to be Cecil Moskowitz as of this moment.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 VMI, 9/16 at Michigan, 9/23 San Diego State, 9/30 at New Mexico, 10/7 at Navy, 10/14 UNLV, 10/20 at Nevada, 10/28 at Colorado State, 11/4 Army, 11/11 Wyoming, 11/18 at Boise State, 11/25 Utah State
With all things being as they are, and with such a massive graduating class, it is impossible for me to say that Air Force gets anywhere near winning another 10 games this fall. The opener is a breeze, and then everything turns meat grinder, with games against Michigan, San Diego State, New Mexico, and Navy. Three of the final five games are against Colorado State, Wyoming, and Boise State, with Army falling in between, and that is no guarantee. Just getting to a bowl game will be enough for this version of Falcons Football.