Air Force Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Air Force Falcons Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – It starts in the middle – They’re never real pretty.  They do the dirty work for the entire offense.  They get the ever lovin’ stuff beat out of them every single play.  They are option fullbacks and Air Force has a strong one who should be a 1,000 yard rusher this season, former Midland Lee (TX) star Jacobe Kendrick.  Although QB Shaun Carney had 54 more carries and 178 more yards than Kendrick, the fullback wasn’t fully healthy throughout the season.  However, he’s going to be the key to the running game this year.  At 6’ and 230 pounds, Kendrick is an absolute load, but he’s a little more than just a three yards and a cloud of dust grinder.  He does give the Falcon offensive staff the option to use him as the pitch man in some speed option schemes.  Consequently, he could be a tailback in some I formation or spread attacks that are common throughout the nation, but for the Falcons, he’s the middle man.  If he can stay healthy and get 15 to 20 carries per game, Kendrick can put up 100 yard games regularly.  Teams have to take him out of the game early and put the ball in Carney’s hands.  Although #5 is a decent threat with the ball in his hands, he isn’t Kendrick.  Give him the ball and get out of his way.  Way out of the way.

2nd and Seven – Dual Threat – The Falcon defense has struggled for the past two seasons, but one guy who has not been a disappointment is Chris Sutton, Air Force’s most versatile defensive player.  Sutton is one of the best cover corners in the league, registering 9 pass breakups last season in addition to his two interceptions.  But, he also is the team’s punt returner, averaging just under 10 yards per return.  At a place like the Air Force Academy, shoot, at any place really, having a guy who can perform double duty like Sutton is definitely a luxury.  If Sutton and free safety Bobby Giannini are having to pull more than their fair share of the work, though, the Falcon defense could be in trouble.

3rd and Three – Turnabout is Fair Play – For years, the Falcons have dominated with their running attack, running clock and mowing down groups of seemingly more talented defenders.  However, last year, fate reared its head in an ugly way…Hey, bro, how about some originality, that’s exactly what you said last year.  Really?  Uh, yeah. Well, then how do you explain six of the last seven games of the year with opposing running yardage numbers like this – 213, 217, 220, 300, 217 and 227?  Well, touché.  As good as the Academy has been in Fisher DeBerry’s career dominating on the ground, the MWC, et al. is making amends for years of torture.  This is two straight years in a row that Air Force just can’t get teams off the field, giving up 200 yard rushing games on a regular basis.  Sure, the MWC throws every running attack possible at opponents, but sooner or later the Falcons must slow teams down.  Maybe it’ll take the offense being a bit more consistent.  But, there’s no question it’ll take a strong year from Gilberto Perez and company on the defensive line if this is to happen.  Then, maybe the author can have something different to write about next year.

4th and One – Where to now? – Football’s most important existentialistic question plagues the Falcons in a way they’re unaccustomed.  Since DeBerry has been in Colorado Springs, the Falcons have competed for championships and bowl games as a regular course of business.  But, 2004 and 2005 have presented new challenges for the Falcons, in the form of a big, fat punch in the face from the MWC.  So, with the two disasters that were, where do the Falcons go from here?  With TCU and Utah now consistent top 25 fixtures, with BYU back up on the horse, New Mexico still hitting people in the mouth and Wyoming looking to atone for a miserable 2005, the Falcons are more than a step behind, in more ways than one.  Fisher, himself, isn’t immune to the questions, either.  After a year when he made more happen with his comments than his coaching, how can he get his Flyboys back into the mix?  If he can, he should be coach of the year.  If not, well, let’s cross that bridge when we get there.

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