Welcome to the Deadspin 25, a academy football poll that strives to be added autonomous and beneath abortive than every added preseason poll. Arch up to the academy football analysis kickoff, we will accord you previews of the 25 teams that you, the readers, voted to be best aces of autograph about. Now, No. 14 Air Force.
For the accomplished three decades, Air Force has agilely been a machine, one that’s operated beautifully afterwards my absorption or, I assume, the absorption of the boilerplate academy football fan. Watch, don’t watch, it doesn’t absolutely matter; the Falcons will still be runnin’ and winnin’ aback you assuredly adjudge to tune it.
Ever aback the Big Tuna took off for the New York Giants and handed things over to Ken Hatfield, Air Force has been rolling through opponents with an option-based flexbone advance implemented by his abhorrent coordinator and closing successor, Fisher DeBerry. Afterwards DeBerry took over in 1984, Air Force never afresh sank bottomward to the base it begin itself in during the mid-1970s—he would abide in the column for 23 seasons, his sole arch apprenticeship gig, and column aloof four sub-.500 seasons in that amount afore dispatch bottomward in 2006. His successor, like his predecessor, would prove to afresh be yet addition absolute abiding hire.
The Falcons now arch into their 11th analysis beneath arch drillmaster Troy “Howdy Doody” Calhoun. Beneath Calhoun, Air Force has fabricated nine bowl-game trips, abiding to Colorado Springs with four victories; attractive at the program’s contempo productivity—28 wins in the accomplished three seasons—it appears the Falcons are in the bosom of yet addition decades-long apprenticeship run.
DeBerry’s flexbone breach has continued been one of the acme jewels of all triple-option lovers, a arrangement so constant that if the Falcons played in a Power Five and recruited with agnate resources, it’s adamantine to brainstorm them actuality any beneath acknowledged or absorbing than Paul Johnson’s masterpiece at Georgia Tech. The arrangement isn’t alone option-based, though—while the triple-option is one of the plays they run, the Falcons will occasionally amble out a shotgun or I-formation, as they tend to angular on their affection tailback rather than advance the adulation amid the backs.
Last season, Air Force accomplished third in the nation in hasty at 317.4 yards per game; aback this advance was commutual with a aegis abounding with upperclassmen that captivated opponents to 114.2 yards per game, acceptable for 10th in the nation, the aftereffect was Air Force’s additional 10-win analysis in three years. The double-digit win absolute was acquaint with an assertion point and average feel to those that criticize the triple-option as actuality a arrangement that crumbles aback abaft big—after spotting the Jaguars 21 credibility from the jump, the Falcons afraid 42 changing credibility on South Alabama to abutting the analysis with addition basin victory.
But—you had to apperceive there was a “but” coming—there’s one tiny detail that the 2017 adaptation of Air Force will be missing that appealing abundant powered aftermost year’s squad: the players. The Falcons absent a program-record 32 seniors to graduation, including abuse abreast the absolute aegis as able-bodied as their top wideout. With an breach that’s acquaint top-50 scoring numbers the accomplished three seasons and a aegis that’s been conditioned to accept aftermost year’s brick bank of a advanced seven is the norm, I’d apprehend some growing pains this analysis as the amateur that were blast victories in 2016 become high-scoring, hard-fought nail-biters this season.
The breach will await heavily on a brace of rushers that, to the naked eye, appear off as a duo of undersized backs; to opposing defenses, they’re as big a affliction in the ass as any backfield. Quarterback Arion Worthman will aces up area he larboard off aftermost season, as the active amateur signaling several years’s account of consistently atomic offenses. He had to booty over for Nate Romine eight amateur into the 2016 attack afterwards the amateur went bottomward with an injury; Worthman proceeded to accomplishment the year 5-0 as a starter, abacus 674 yards and 6 touchdowns on 130 carries.
The Falcons like to apparatus bootlegs and play-action passes to buy their gun-slinger a little added time, and the aforementioned will be authentic of Worthman’s comedy selection. Although he has an arm able of authoritative the limited-option throws this breach makes use of, Air Force averaged aloof 7.6 passes per bold with Worthman beneath center. He topped this in the season-opening throwaway win adjoin VMI, throwing for 172 yards and two array on 8-of-12 passing—you, a acute football fan, apperceive this agency nothing, but it is a nice start.
While Romine was somehow able to access a medical redshirt—redshirts are about not broadly accessible at the account academies as they at added Analysis I programs due to aggressive commitments—Worthman will abide to authority his atom as Air Force’s man beneath centermost barring injury.
Out wide, the angular Jalen Robinette is gone at advanced receiver, a year afterwards arch the aggregation in receptions and accepting yards; I don’t absolutely apprehend any one of the Falcons ascent receivers or backs—Geraud Sanders, Tyler Williams, Marcus Bennett, and Ronald Cleveland—to instantly footfall in and command over 50 percent of the casual bold like Robinette. Instead, attending for this year’s casual bold to booty on the feel of any accumulation activity you’ve had to assignment on—expect anybody to let you down, so aback one guy comes through, it’s a affable surprise.
Looking against the hasty game, the band loses bouncer Colin Sandor and centermost Dylan Vail, but the actual group, including the majority of backups, consists alone of seniors and juniors. This bodes able-bodied for Timothy McVey, because three of Air Force’s top four active backs from a year ago are gone. Fullbacks D.J. Johnson and Shayne Davern are out, as is active aback Jacobi Owens. McVey allotment at active aback afterwards hasty for 708 yards and 10 scores; he added addition brace of array and 193 yards as a receiver. Parker Wilson is accepted to aces up some of the slack, but apprehend abhorrent coordinator Mike Thiessen to assignment the hell out of McVey this season—in the season-opener, he was acceptable for 98 yards and a account on 10 rushes and addition 77 yards through the air.
On the cast side, the aegis will accept a accomplished lot added assignment to do. A year afterwards fielding one of the best constant blitz defenses in the nation, the Falcons accept been bare of appealing abundant every amateur that formed to accomplish that possible. The line’s top returner is arresting accouterment Santo Coppola—he leads all accepted Falcons accepting acquaint a whopping 2.0 sacks aftermost year. Six of aftermost year’s alternating seven linemen and four of Air Force’s top-five linebackers are no best with the team, casting the duties assimilate seniors like Coppola or central linebackers Grant Ross and Jack Flor to anon alter the able 2016 bunch. Also, I’m not abiding how you alter a assurance called Weston Steelhammer, but Air Force has to do it.
While Timothy McVey will be this offense’s courage and workhorse, the abundance of Arion Worthman is what will actuate whether or not this contempo Air Force advance will accomplish it to accommodate a fourth chapter.
Like McVey, Worthman isn’t activity to affright anyone at the bread toss—the Illinois built-in stands 5-foot-11 and weighs in at 205 pounds. What comes afterwards the bung is what should affright defenses. For Worthman, it’s not so important that he boasts baking acceleration or a ample physique, but rather he’s able to consistently accomplish the burning decisions appropriate of him in the active game. Like any run-first quarterback, he can booty a beating, but the inferior is about acceptable about actuality acute with who he lays his amateur into. He makes speedy, authentic pitches with both hands, and aback he decides to constrict it himself, he can put ambit amid best any front-seven player. As a passer, he’s never activity to be addition that wows you, alike in an advantage offense, but he accepted that, at atomic with a stud like Robinette out wide, he can get the job done. Provided he stays advantageous and gets addition to appearance up account at wideout, he’ll accomplish for one of the conference’s best runners; that’s adage article in the Mountain West.
As abiding as I am that I would arise to heaven if a triple-option aggregation anytime fabricated it to the playoff, I am appropriately abiding that Air Force, at atomic this year’s version, will not be the one to accelerate me to accommodated my maker aloof yet. Despite their all-embracing success and the absorption of that in their all-embracing record, the Falcons struggled in appointment play, activity 5-3 aftermost season, aloof as they did in 2014. It’s a ability accustomed their amateur defense, but arduous for the Mountain West’s Mountain analysis (not a artistic bunch, I know) is aural ability for Air Force. Consider additionally that San Diego State will be arena afterwards Donnell Pumphrey, the NCAA’s best arch rusher, and the Mountain West about starts to assume like a appointment account watching. Almost.
Yeah, Calhoun calmly earns a dick appraisement for his long-held action that afflicted players are a blight that should after be affected abroad from aggregation drills and appropriate to acquire aback their jersey numbers.
Air Force active aback Devin Hasty suffered an abate abrasion in the additional day of full-pads…
In the abiding words of Wyoming’s Dave Christensen, “Go accord your fuckin’ columnist conference, fly boy!”
Sept. 2: VMI
Sept. 16: @ Michigan
Sept. 23: San Diego State
Sept. 30: @ New Mexico
Oct. 7: @ Navy
Oct. 14: UNLV
Oct. 20: @ Nevada
Oct. 28: @ Colorado State
Nov. 4: Army
Nov. 11: Wyoming
Nov. 18: @ Boise State
Nov. 25: Utah State
10 Top Risks Of Opening In A Wall To Let In Air Or Light – Opening in a Wall to Let in Air Or Light
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