What you need to know ... Air
Force passed the ball better and more effectively than it had in
a long time with Shaun Carney emerging as an efficient starter.
Now the job will be to get more out of the running game that
only averaged 4.6 yards per carry. The Falcons finished eighth
in the nation averaging 247 rushing yards per game, but it has
to average more than 275 per outing to beat the big boys. Carney
needs to be more effective at getting big plays from the backs,
but that could be tough with an average group of runners and an
even more pedestrian receiving corps (at least compared to last
year). The line will be fine despite losing great blockers Jon
Wilson and Ross Weaver.
Passing: Shaun Carney
95-148, 1,393 yds, 7 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Shaun Carney
170 carries, 710 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: Chad Hall
16 catches, 139 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Junior QB Shaun Carney
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Senior C Stuart Perlow
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Robert Kraay
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carney, 2) G Curtis
Grantham, 3) FB Jacobe Kendrick
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
The Air Force coaching staff has always looked for a good
passer, and now that it has one in Shaun Carney, it wants him to
be a better runner. No longer the young player trying to stay as
the starter, Carney has to make the offense his. Durability will
be of primary importance with former running back Jim Ollis the
The key to the unit: More big plays from Shaun Carney
without sacrificing anything in the passing game.
Quarterback Rating: 7
- Shaun Carney, Jr. - 95-148, 1,393 yds, 64%, 7 TD, 7 INT,
170 carries, 710 yds, 4.2 ypc, 11 TD
Carney was one of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks last
season and is on track to be the school's all-time best passer.
However, despite leading the team in rushing in each of the last
two seasons, he's not nearly the runner that past Falcon
quarterbacks were and doesn't run the attack quite as crisply.
That might just be a function of youth after being thrown to the
wolves early on in his career. Now he's a two-year starter and
has to be a sharper decision maker.
- Jim Ollis, Jr. - 5 carries, 16 yds, 4.3 ypc, 1 TD
The former halfback will move to quarterback after making the
switch the other way last year. He has a little bit of
quarterbacking experience on the junior varsity team as a
freshman and then spent last year returning kicks and getting a
few carries. Running won't be a problem, but he's nowhere near
the passer Shaun Carney is.
There's plenty of experience, but no one
special enough to scare anyone. Fullback Jacobe Kendrick has the
potential to be great if he can stay healthy. Halfbacks Chad
Hall and Justin Handley have to bust off more big plays, while
reliable depth needs to quickly develop to add more options.
With a quarterback like Shaun Carney, being able to catch will
get more playing time.
The key to the unit: The players have to make the
system and not the other way around.
Running Back Rating: 6
- Justin Handley, Sr. - 28 carries, 165 yds, 5.9 ypc, 2
TD, 4 catches, 31 yds, 7.8 ypc
A lightning quick 5-8 and 175 pounds, Handley needs the ball in
his hands more. All but forgotten about at times and failed to
be used enough in the passing game, he was just starting to get
more work when he got hurt and ran only four times over the
final three games.
- Chad Hall, Jr. - 66 carries, 344 yds, 5.2 ypc, 1 TD, 16
catches, 139 yds, 8.7 ypc, 1 TD
Hall grew into reliable big--play back highlighted by a 107-yard
day against Colorado State. He's a speedy 5-8 and 180 pounds and
can play quarterback in an emergency. With his great hands,
he'll once again be one of the team's top receivers.
- Fullback Jacobe Kendrick, Sr. - 116 carries, 532
yds, 4.6 ypc, 6 TD, 3 catches, 44 yds, 14.7 ypc
Can he stay healthy? He was nicked up throughout last season but
still finished second on the team in rushing. He can be a
battering ram at 230 pounds, and he has just enough quickness to
bounce plays to the outside when needed. He's fast enough to be
used as a halfback if needed.
- Fullback Ryan Williams, Jr. - 72 carries, 290 yds, 4
ypc, 3 TD, 3 catches, 32 yds, 10.7 ypc, 1 TD
More than good enough to start if Jacobe Kendrick isn't healthy,
the 215-pound Williams brings a big more speed to the mix. He
has to be more of a blocker, but there's no questioning his
downhill running ability.
- Ty Paffet, Jr.
While not as quick as Chad Hall, the 5-11 Paffet has good feet
and great moves in a backup role. He'll have to battle with
veteran Chad Smith for time.
- Chad Smith, Jr. - 34 carries, 190 yds, 5.6 ypc, 1 TD, 8
catches, 89 yds, 11.1 ypc, 1 TD
While not a big-play runner, he ended up turning into a
productive backup doing a little of everything well getting a
few touches a game. Now he'll have to fight for playing time at
one of the halfback spots.
Losing top targets Jason Brown and Greg Kirkwood hurt
more than many might think. Victor Thompson and Mark Root have
to replace 79 catches and several big plays, but they're not
nearly as talented as their predecessors. Tight ends Travis
Dekker and Chris Evans are big blockers with enough talent to
catch a few passes to pick up the overall slack.
The key to the unit: Home runs. Jason Brown averaged
17.8 yards per catch and Greg Kirkwood averaged 18.5. Victor
Thompson and Mark Root have to take advantage of single coverage
and make just as many big plays.
Receiver Rating: 4
- Victor Thompson, Sr. - 6 catches, 59 yds, 9.8 ypc, 1 TD
With great speed and decent size, the 6-0, 195-pound senior has
the potential to grow into a decent number one receiver. It's
asking a lot for him to replace the production of Jason Brown,
but he'll have to if the Falcon offense is going to improve.
- Tight end Travis Dekker, Jr.
Listed as the starter coming out of spring ball, the 6-4,
240-pound junior is back after sitting out all of last year
hurt. It'll be a shock if he catches more than a ten passes with
his real worth coming as a blocker.
- Mark Root, Jr.
The biggest receiver in the mix, the 6-2, 195-pound sophomore
will see plenty of time as the number two target replacing Greg
- Tight end Chris Evans, Jr.
Purely a blocker so far, Evans saw starting time in five
games when injuries struck. He's not going to catch any passes,
but at 240 pounds, he's a strong factor in the running game.
While it'll be tough to lose two great blockers in center
Jon Wilson and tackle Ross Weaver, there are pieces in place to make
this one of the team's strengths. Robert Kraay is a huge tackle to build
around, and Curtis Grantham has all-star potential at right guard. The
return of Caleb Morris from injury provides a good backup guard, but the
reserves are questionable at tackle. Stuart Perlow will be more than
fine quarterbacking the line at center.
The key to the unit: Hope for Blaine Guenther and
Ryan Zeman to be strong at right tackle and get more big blocks for the
inside running game.
Offensive Line Rating: 6.5
- OT Robert Kraay, Sr.
The massive 6-8, 295-pound senior started every game at left tackle and
will be the team's top lineman. He's fantastic in pass protection and
has grown into a dominant blocker when on the move.
- OG Tyler Dohallow, Sr.
Dohallow stepped in and started the final five games last season at left
guard. The 280-pound senior is a mauler who'll benefit from playing next
to Robert Kraay.
- C Stuart Perlow, Sr.
A backup throughout last year, the 290-pound Perlow has massive shoes to
fill replacing star center Jon Wilson. He has a little bit of starting
experience and proved he has the potential to dominate after cranking
out 31 knockdown blocks against Army in 2004.
- OG Curtis Grantham, Sr.
The 280-pound senior returned from a broken leg that kept him out all of
2004 and turned into a big-time producer at right guard. He has as much
talent as anyone on the line and should be the one the offense runs
behind up the middle.
- OT Blaine Guenther, Jr.
Guenther gets to try to replace all-star Ross Weaver at right tackle. At
6-2 and 270 pounds, Guenther isn't nearly as big as Weaver, but he can
move. He can play center if needed.
- G Caleb Morris, Jr.
Morris appeared to be all ready for a breakout year at left guard after
growing into a dominant all-around performer at the end of 2004, and
then he got hurt missing all of last year. He'll battle with Tyler
Dohallow for time.
- OT Ryan Zeman, Jr.
The right tackle job is the one main
opening, and the 6-4, 265-pound Zeman needs to push for time to create a
good rotation. He's one of the line's best athletes.
- OG Thomas Crump, Sr.
While not the team's best run blocker, the 275-pound senior has
experience and can play either guard spot. He's strong for his size.