2013 Air Force Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 24, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Air Force Falcon Offense


Air Force Falcons

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Air Force Preview | 2013 Air Force Offense
- 2013 Air Force Defense | 2013 Air Force Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: As always, Air Force will average over 300 rushing yards per game, will finish near the bottom nationally in passing, and will be tough at times when the running game is humming. The receiving corps should be decent – in relative Air Force terms – and the line should be fine in time with a slew of undersized interchangeable parts who know how to make this style of offense work. There’s enough speed in the backfield to turn the corner, but the key will be the emergence of quarterback Kale Pearson, who has to prove he can be a consistent decision maker while hitting the deep pass on a regular basis.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kale Pearson
12-29, 128 yds, 0 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Jon Lee
88 carries, 545 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Ty MacArthur
24 catches, 411 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Kale Pearson
Player who has to step up and be a star: Pearson
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Broam Hart
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Marcus Hendricks
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pearson, 2) RB Anthony LaCoste, 3) C Austin Hayes
Strength of the offense: Rushing, Big Pass Plays
Weakness of the offense: Passing, Line Size

Quarterbacks

Connor Dietz is gone after finishing second on the team in rushing and completing 61% of his throws for 1,138 yards. He did a nice job of making the passing attack efficient, and he kept the mistakes to a minimum with just three picks and eight touchdown passes. In steps junior Kale Pearson, a 5-9, 175-pound runner who stepped in at garbage time and rushed for 49 yards with two scores. He struggled with the passing attack completing just 41% of his throws with no scoring throws and four picks. He fits the Falcon quarterback mold, and while he’s not going to push the ball deep, he’ll run well. Very smart and very tough, he’ll take a beating and will keep on rolling.

Pearson is the sure-thing starter, but it’s going to be a fight for the No. 2 job. Sophomore Jaleel Awini is a 6-0, 190-pound quick runner who can cut on a dime and has a good enough passing arm to get by, while 6-0, 180-pound sophomore Karson Roberts is a tremendous speedster who should be a decent midrange passer with a little bit of time.

Watch Out For … Nate Romine and Tyler Rogers. The Falcons brought in five quarterback prospects to develop over the next few seasons, but the 6-0, 185-pound Romine and the 6-4, 195-pound Rogers are the best on the lot. Romine is a strong passer who has the arm to provide something different to the attack, while Rogers is also a dual-threat playmaker who can do a little bit of everything right.
Strength: Rushing – as always. All the Air Force quarterbacks are line extra running backs, and Pearson and company aren’t going to change things up. It’s a system thing with the Falcons, and Pearson should speed his way to over 700 rushing yards.
Weakness: Efficient passing. Dietz got the job done throwing the ball around, and former starter Tim Jefferson set a slew of records and was a tough runner. Is Pearson a good enough deep ball passer to stretch the field? He has a lot to prove after too many rough outings last year.
Outlook: You know what you’re going to get out of the Air Force quarterbacks. Pearson is yet another scrappy, smart runner who’ll be one of the team’s top three rushers, but the key will be his passing ability and efficiency. As long as he’s hitting on two or three key passes per game, and keeping the interceptions to a minimum, everything will be fine.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

The Falcons have to hope the next man up can handle the work and keep the offense moving. The ground attack usually centers around the fullback, and while 6-0, 210-pound junior Broam Hart isn’t all that big, he’s a tough, punishing runner who got in a little work as a reserve gaining 100 yards and a score. The workhorse potential is there, and while he might not have tremendous speed or bulk, he should be yet another Air Force fullback who puts up huge numbers.

5-10, 195-pound senior Anthony LaCoste was a running back, moved to defensive back, and then moved back over to the offense running for 15 yards and a score. Very fast with track speed, he should be able to occasionally hit the big play when he gets to the outside, and he has the cutback quickness to make things happen on his own.

Junior Jon Lee is the team’s leading returning running back, finishing third on the team with 545 yards and four touchdowns averaging 6.2 yards per carry. The 5-10, 190-pounder spread out his workload with his 96-yard day against Nevada his high mark, but now he’ll be called on even more to utilize his great hands and phenomenal strength. The three-time Georgia state power lifting champion can work inside or out, as can Marques Stevenson, a 5-8, 190-pound junior who has excellent quickness and interior toughness for his size, but he needs experience. He made just one appearance on the field last year.

Watch Out For … Tim McVey and Brian Driskell. At around 5-9 and 175 pounds, they’re both right out of Air Force running back central casting. Both of them were good enough to go other places, and soon they’ll be a key part of the offense, even though both of them have the potential to shine as a defensive back.
Strength: The offense. The Air Force running backs are trained in the system, they get their chances to learn what they’re supposed to do, and then they hit the ground running. The parts are almost always interchangeable.
Weakness: Fumbles. There will be errors and mistakes when you run the ball 804 times, but there were still way too many key mistakes putting it on the ground 33 times and losing 21 of them. The Falcons lost two fumbles in each of the last seven games.
Outlook: You know what’s coming. With the quarterbacks and receivers included, Air Force will average around 300 yards per game, will score at least 35 touchdowns and it’ll average over five yards per pop. LaCoste, Lee and Hart should form a dangerous trio who’ll combine for over 1,500 yards. The rating is based on production over talent.
Unit Rating: 8

Receivers

Senior Ty MacArthur is part running back, part receiver, and he’s good whenever he gets the ball in his hands rushing for 8.2 yards per carry with 467 yards and two scores while leading the team with 24 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns. Extremely quick, the 5-9, 175-pounder is a big play producer who knows how to get in the open field.

Junior Sam Gagliano will get the first look at the second receiver spot on the other side of MacArthur. He’ll get his share of carries, but his job will be to hit the long ball now and then – that’s what Air Force receivers do. At 5-9 and 185 pounds, he’s not huge, but he’s shifty.

6-4, 205-pound junior Christian Gann adds the size to the equation. He only caught two passes for 25 yards, but he can block and he has the potential to be a matchup nightmare in single coverage. He has enough speed to get by, while 5-10, 175-pound junior Colton Huntsman has more dangerous athleticism. He’ll be used as both a runner and a receiver, catching four passes for 28 yards and carrying it 11 times for 17 yards with a touchdown against Idaho State in the opener.

Sophomore Garrett Griffin is a great combination of size, speed and phenomenal athleticism with Kansas state champion-level track skills. The 6-4, 205-pounder will be like a big wide receiver but will technically work as a tight end. He’ll be a sound, savvy route runner who’ll keep the chains moving. Also in the hunt for time is 6-6, 235-pound junior Marcus Hendricks, a nice target who caught seven passes for 117 yards averaging 16.7 yards per crack with two scores including a four-yard touchdown against Colorado State and a 29-yarder against Nevada. Big and with good blocking ability, he can do a little of everything for an Air Force tight end.

Watch Out For … the tight end prospects. It’s hard to get decent wide receivers to come to Air Force, but the coaching staff came up with a few good tight ends led by Pete Cender, a 6-4, 225-pounder out of Michigan, and Trent Gow, a 6-3, 235-pounder out of Texas with excellent speed and upside.
Strength: The big play. The Falcons never get massive numbers out of their receivers, but all that matters is whether or not they crank out the home run when needed. They averaged 16.1 yards per catch last year, and it should be more of the same.
Weakness: The opportunities. Air Force receivers only caught 83 passes, and there won’t be many more throws coming their way. Be shocked if the offense throws it more than 160 times.
Outlook: The passing game isn’t going to be anything special, but the receivers will be decent helped by the return of MacArthur and the likely emergence of a few good tight ends. It’s all about whether or not the quarterbacks can take advantage of the few key opportunities, and the receivers will do their part.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

The offensive front has to undergo a major overhaul, but it gets back a strong veteran leader in senior Austin Hayes, a 6-2, 245-pound center who started for the first half of the season before getting hurt until the bowl game. While he’s feisty, he’s too small and gets beaten up and beaten on. Even so, he’s great on the line calls and terrific on the move.

6-3, 245-pound sophomore Matt Rochell started to get more and more in the mix over the second half of last year, and now he’ll get a long look at the starting left tackle job. While he’s built more like a tight end, he moves well and should be fine kicking out to spring the outside pitch. Looking to start on the other side at right tackle is 6-6, 255-pound senior Jerry Henry, a spot starter who saw time in eight games and starting twice before getting dinged up. An outstanding athlete, he’s not just great on the move, he can kick in a little power, too.

Senior David Lore grabbed a starting job by the horns over the second half of the season and now will own the left guard job. At 6-1 and 250 pounds, he gets terrific leverage by getting under the pads, but he can also wall off his man. Strong, he can get physical when he has to. Fighting for time behind him is 6-3, 255-pound senior Drew Kerber, a 13-game starter, he can play either guard spot and could easily be one of the team’s most dependable interior pass protectors.

6-2, 250-pound senior Moshood Adeniji saw time throughout last season as a key part to the rotation, and now the former defensive lineman will get the call at right guard if he can hold off senior Michael Husar, a 6-0, 250-pound veteran who has the strength and power to get back a starting job inside. He started the opener before getting knocked out for the year hurt.

Watch Out For … Jesse Springer, the most talented of the big haul of offensive lineman. The 6-4, 250-pounder can play either tackle or guard, and he has the room to grow a bit bigger and become a strong interior presence.
Strength: Quickness. The Air Force line will never flatten anyone, but it’s great at boxing out and coming up with the types of blocks on the move to push and wall off so the runners can get by. It might be considered a finesse blocking scheme, but it always works.
Weakness: Bulk. Few teams run more effectively than the Falcons, but it would be nice if all the 250ish-sized players came in around 275. The line will be solid and it’ll work, but there are times when it it would be great to line up and flatten someone.
Outlook: It’s an interchangeable line of 250-pounders who all look like bulky linebackers more than true offensive linemen. Staying healthy will be the fight after losing bodies throughout last season, and at their size, the linemen will have a tough time holding up. Even so, after finishing third in the nation in sacks and paving the way for over 4,000 rushing yards, the line was effective and should be again.
Unit Rating: 5.5

- 2013 Air Force Preview | 2013 Air Force Offense
- 2013 Air Force Defense | 2013 Air Force Depth Chart