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CFN Take: Air Force Embarrassed By CSU
Posted Nov 30, 2013

2013 Air Force Falcons ... Head Coach: Troy Calhoun

Air Force Falcons

Record: 2-10

8/31 Colgate W 38-13
9/7 Utah State L 52-20
9/13 at Boise State L 42-20
9/21 Wyoming L 56-23
9/28 at Nevada L 45-42
10/5 at Navy L 28-10
10/10 San Diego St L 27-20
10/26 Notre Dame L 45-10
11/2 Army W 42-28
11/8 at New Mexico L 45-37
11/21 UNLV L 41-21
11/30 at Colorado St L 58-13
at Colorado State 58, Air Force 13
Basically … A banged up Kapri Bibbs played, scoring three times and Garrett Grayson threw three touchdown passes as Colorado State scored the first 58 points of the game and coasted in the fourth. Rashard Higgins scored on touchdown catches from 23 and 19 yards away, and Jordon Vaden scored on a 49-yard play in the blowout to make the Rams bowl eligible.
- Colorado State outgained Air Force 629 yards to 279.
- Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 26-of-34 passes for 395 yards and three scores, and he ran four times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
- Air Force QB Nick Romine completed 7-of-13 passes for 69 yards.
- Colorado State RB Kapri Bibbs ran 16 times for 79 yards and three scores.

UNLV 41, at Air Force 21
Basically … UNLV became bowl eligible with the win, starting out roaring with the first 27 points on two touchdown runs from both Tim Cornett and Caleb Herring. Cornett added a third touchdown run from three yards out in the third and closed with a 46-yard scoring dash in the fourth to put the game well out of reach. Air Force managed just 298 yards of total offense getting one-yard touchdown runs from Broam Hart and D.J. Johnson and a 31-yard scoring grab from Alex Ludowig.
- UNLV RB Tim Cornett ran 36 times for 220 yards and four scores. Caleb Herring completed 15-of-1 passes for 141 yards and ran for 56 yards and two scores.
- Air Force RB Anthony LaCoste ran 15 times for 75 yards.
- Air Force QB Nate Romine completed 3-of-11 passes for 72 yards and a score.
- UNLV had the ball for almost 36 minutes and came up with 30 first downs. Air Force had 17.

at New Mexico 45, Air Force 37
Basically … The two teams ran and ran some more, but New Mexico got on the board first with a touchdown pass from Cole Gautsche to Jeric Magnant from 28 yards out. Gautsche ran for two touchdowns and Jhurell Pressley added touchdown runs from three and 61 yards away, but Air Force stayed around on Nate Romine’s three touchdown passes and a one-yard scoring run. Up 35-34 in the fourth – after blocking an extra point on a one-yard Broam Hart touchdown run – New Mexico scored ten unanswered points, putting the game away on long drives with a Gautsche one-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard Justus Adams field goal.
- New Mexico ran for 451 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and Air Force ran for 257 yards averaging 5.4 yards per try.
- New Mexico RB Kasey Carrier ran 27 times for 179 yards, and Cole Gautsche completed one of three passes for 28 yards and a score and ran 20 times for 140 yards and two scores.
- Air Force RB Anthony LaCoste ran 21 times for 177 yards
- Air Force QB Nate Romine completed 15-of-23 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 13 times for 21 yards and a touchdown.

at Air Force 42, Army 28, Nov. 2
Basically … Air Force RB Anthony LaCoste raced 78 yards for a touchdown, breaking a 21-21 tie with 8:37 left in the third quarter. The Falcons built their lead to 35-21 on another LaCoste touchdown run with 14:45 left in the game. After Army turned a muffed punt by Air Force into a touchdown with 5:58 left in regulation, the Falcons answered with a game-sealing touchdown drive. Broam Hart delivered a three-yard touchdown run with 3:41 left to put the game away. The two teams both rushed for more than 300 yards and finished with over 400 total yards. Air Force scored 21 points in both halves.
- LaCoste finished with 23 carries for 263 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 11.4 yards per carry.
- Army RB Terry Baggett carried the ball 20 times for 121 yards and a touchdown.
- Air Force QB Nate Romine completed 7-of-8 passes for 111 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
- Army QB Angel Santiago completed 8-of-14 passes for 109 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

at Notre Dame 45, Air Force 10
Basically … Air Force scored first on a ten-yard Colton Huntsman run, but Notre Dame dominated the rest of the way with Tommy Rees throwing five touchdown passes to five different receivers with a 35-yarder to Corey Robinson and a 46-yarder to William Fuller in the first half. Scoring 31 unanswered points, the Irish didn’t have any problems moving the ball on an inept Air Force deference that couldn’t come up with a meaningful stop.
- Nate Romine did what he could, but the Air Force quarterback only threw for 37 yards and ran 21 times for 76 yards. No one could break free for anything big, and after the first scoring drive, there weren’t any surprises. The Falcons spread the ground game around well, but it didn’t go anywhere despite finishing with 290 yards.
- The miserable season continues to go south, but the schedule eases up with Army next and New Mexico to follow, and it’s going to be all about stopping the run before dealing with UNLV and Colorado State. The Falcons aren’t coming up with anything clutch on either side of the ball.

San Diego State 27 … Air Force 20
Basically … Down 20-6 in the fourth quarter, San Diego State scored 21 unanswered points with a ten-yard touchdown run from Donnel Pumphrey the game-winner with just under two minutes to play. Pumphrey started out the fourth quarter scoring with a 20-yard run, and Ezell Ruffin added a 62-yard touchdown catch. Air Force shocked SDSU with a 71-yard scoring pass to Sam Gagliano in the third, but the scoring stopped in the fourth.
- Give San Diego State credit for the big rally when nothing was going its way. The kicking game was awful and the passing game was inconsistent, but Quinn Kaehler did what he needed to and the 1-2 rushing punch of Donnel Pumphrey and Adam Muema was terrific, combining for 203 yards.
- Air Force had everything set up perfectly up 20-6 going into the fourth quarter. Instead, the running game couldn’t put the game away and couldn’t control the clock, keeping it for just 6:39 in the fourth. The defense appeared gassed and couldn’t get off the field.
- Safety Nat Behre came up with a huge game for the Aztecs, holding up against the Air Force option game making 14 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. He was the tone-setter, while Alex Barrett did the job against the passing game with two sacks and good pressure.
- Air Force will almost never win when it doesn’t control the running game. San Diego State ran for 214 yards to Air Force’s 169, and while Anthony Lacoste came up with 109 yards, no one else was able to break free and there weren’t any big dashes. There were only two runs of more than ten yards.

at Navy 28 … Air Force 10
Basically … Keenan Reynolds ran for three short scores and Demond Brown took off for a 38-yard scoring dash as Navy overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit to score 21 unanswered points for the win. Air Force took the lead early on a 45-yard Will Conant field goal, and Anthony LaCoste ran for an 18-yard score, but the offense turned it over three times with Navy’s Chris Johnson picking off two passes.
- There didn’t seem like there were any ill-effects from the concussion suffered by Keenan Reynolds against WKU. The Navy quarterback made all the right decisions in the second half and held up well, running 28 times for 126 yards and three scores, and completing 6-of-10 passes for 54 yards.
- This was when Air Force needed steadier quarterback play. The ground game was fine, but it didn’t control the action like it needed to. Karson Roberts and Nate Romine combined to complete 7-of-16 passes for 82 yards with two picks, and while Romine was able to run well, the O struggled to move late.
- Navy owned the second half and held on to the ball for over 11 minutes in the fourth quarter. The Falcon fourth quarter drives were a disaster – they didn’t go anywhere.
- Give the Navy defense credit for doing a better job of swarming around the Air Force running game than Air Force did at getting around the Navy attack. Reynolds and his decision making was the difference, but Navy’s Chris Ferguson and Cody Peterson stuffed everything, combining for 21 tackles.

at Nevada 45, Air Force 42
Basically … In a wild game, down 12, Nevada came back with a Cody Fajardo nine-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Bradley with just under six minutes to play, and he ran for a two-yard score with under two minutes to go to take the lead for good. Fajardo threw three touchdown passes on the game and ran for two more to overcome a huge day from the Air Force running game that rumbled for 375 yards and got two rushing scores and a touchdown pass from quarterback Karson Roberts. Charles Garrett stopped the possible Air Force comeback with an interception in the final seconds.
- The Air Force offense apparently had not problems whatsoever without Jaleel Awini. Karson Roberts ran 23 times for 161 yards and two scores and completed 5-of-10 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown with a pick as the Falcon attack rumbled. Nevada was better in the clutch.
- It wasn’t the prettiest performance by the Wolf Pack, but Cody Fajardo looked like his old self, completing 38-of-54 passes for 389 yards and three scores, and running for 81 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game isn’t like normal, but it was effective.
- The Wolf Pack defenders didn’t quite figure out what Air Force was doing – and it’s not like they haven’t seen this before. There were almost no big plays in the backfield and there were too many plays made well down the field. Air Force averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
- Nevada receivers Aaron Bradley and Brandon Wimberly were unstoppable. Wimberly caught 15 passes for 134 yards and a score, and Bradley caught 11 balls for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Wyoming 56, at Air Force 23
Basically … Brett Smith threw four touchdown passes including two in the first quarter to Dominic Rufran and two more in the second quarter with a ten-yarder to Robert Herron with six seconds left. Smith also added a first half touchdown run and Shaun Wick ran for the first of his two scores on the way to a 49-17 lead. Air Force scored first on a 33-yard Jaleel Awini touchdown dash, but the offense only managed a six-yard Anthony Lacoste touchdown dash to break up the Wyoming run of points.
- Brett Smith is playing as well as any quarterback in a quarterback rich conference. He was brilliant, completing 35-of-41 passes for 373 yards and four scores, and he ran 16 times for 138 yards and a touchdown.
- The Air Force secondary didn’t have any answers. There wasn’t enough pressure on Brett Smith, and he did whatever he wanted as he picked apart the Falcons clean.
- Not everything was perfect for the Cowboys. The ten penalties were a bit too many, but whatever. The 622 yards of total offense and 10-of-14 production on third down conversions made up for it.
- The Falcon running game worked, cranking out 346 yards and two scores, and Jaleel Awini completed 11-of-18 throws, but this isn’t an offense built on comebacks. The team couldn’t keep up in the firefight.

at Boise State 42, Air Force 20, Sept. 13
Basically … Jay Ajayi ran for four touchdowns and Joe Southwick threw a nine-yard touchdown pass and ran for a one-yard score as Boise State pulled away for the double-digit win. Air Force took a 17-14 lead late in the first half on Jaleel Awini’s second one-yard touchdown run of the game, but the Broncos went on a 28-3 run to close things out.
- After a rough performance against Utah State, Jaleel Awini ran the Air Force offense much better, even with the stalls in the second half. He completed 4-of-9 passes for 99 yards and a pick, and he ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
- There were fumbling problems in the rain, but Jay Ajayi took control of the Boise State running game with 17 carries for 125 yards and four scores, but Joe Southwick had the stronger overall performance completing a razor-sharp 27-of-29 passes for 287 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Between Southwick and backup Grant Hedrick, Boise State quarterbacks threw 31 passes and only one wasn’t caught.
- Air Force can’t win against a team like Boise State when it’s outgained on the ground. The Falcons ran for 188 yards, but the Broncos took control and got more physical running for 229 yards and doing everything right to move the chains. The Falcons allowed the Boise offense to convert 8-of-10 third down chances.
- What stops a great option attack? A penetrating defensive interior, and Demarcus Lawrence was terrific for the Broncos with nine tackles and several disruptive plays.

Utah State 52, at Air Force 20, Sept. 7
Basically … Chuckie Keeton threw five touchdown passes to five different targets, and with three of his scoring passes coming in the third quarter to pull Utah State away in a close game. Air Force backup quarterback Jaleel Awini scored on a three-yard run to make it 21-13 Aggies in the second, and then it was all Keeton leading Utah State to 31 straight points.
- There isn’t a more effective quarterback in America right now than Chuckie Keeton. He was ultra-efficient and effective completing 32-of-40 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns with an interception, and he led the team with 77 rushing yards.
- Air Force starting quarterback Kale Pearson was hurt with a knee injury, so Jaleel Awini stepped in from the start, but he struggled. He only completed 4-of-12 passes, and while he ran for 48 yards, there was a key early fumble and the ground game didn’t work all that well to try getting back in the game.
- Jake Doughty continues to hit everything in sight. The Utah State linebacker led the team with 11 tackles, while his running mate, Zach Vigil, continues to be disruptive with a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and nine tackles.
- Air Force has to control the ball, but it only converted 2-of-15 third down chances and had the ball for under 28 minutes. Utah State converted 11-of-15 third down tries and had it for over 32 minutes.

at Air Force 38, Colgate 13, Aug. 31
Basically … Colgate star quarterback Gavin McCarney found Kevin O’Connell for a 15-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, and then it was all Air Force. The Falcons scored 38 straight points with Broam Hart and Jon Lee each running for two scores, and Devin Rushing capping it off with a ten-yard touchdown dash.
- And there’s the Air Force rushing attack. Lee and Hart combined for 231 of the team’s 409 rushing yards and four of the five touchdowns. Kale Pearson did just fine running the attack, completing 5-of-8 passes for 46 yards, but he didn’t have to carry any of the rushing load with just three carries.
- Colgate is better than you think; is could win the Patriot League. McCarney was held to 143 yards as the Air Force defense did its part by bending, but rarely breaking.

Spring Analysis

Why To Be Excited It’s Air Force, so rebuilding and reloading isn’t any big deal considering the apprentice system of making sure there are good prospects waiting in the wings ready to be the next men in. However, the one area with excellent experience is in the secondary with three starters returning from a decent group that got torched a bit too often deep, but allowed just 11 touchdown passes before getting bombed on by Fresno State and rice in the final two games. Corners Steffon Batts and Chris Miller should be factors on the outside to go along with third-leading tackler Christian Spears at safety.

Why To Be Grouchy Yes, it’s Air Force, but losing nine starters on offense including quarterback Connor Dietz and running backs Wes Cobb and Cody Getz will hurt. The two returning starters on up front with guards David Lore and Drew Kerber two woefully undersized blockers for the interior, and there’s almost no beef whatsoever up front. That might be by design for the nation’s second-ranked rushing offense, but size is still a bit of an issue in the new and improved league. The strength of the defense that didn’t do much against the run was the linebacking corps, but Alex Means, Austin Niklas and the other two starters in the 3-4 are gone.

What Needs Working On Pass rush. Air Force never has a pass rush, struggling to get into the backfield on a regular basis since 2008, but even though it’s by design it still hurts the secondary that got hit way too hard by good quarterbacks with time to work. The pass rush doesn’t necessarily come from the front three, but that’s one spot where there’s some experience returning with the linebacker-sized end coming back. This is more of a read-and-react D that has to start attacking more and forcing more turnovers after coming up with just eight picks and eight recovered fumbles.

Team Concerns For 2013: The Falcons, as always, have to replace a ton of veterans with nine starters gone from the offense. Also, as always, the passing game has to improve. It was efficient last year, but that was with Connor Dietz under center. The secondary gets three starters back, but it has to be better after getting beaten time and again. Part of the problem was a non-existent pass rush that finished last in the Mountain West. Overall, the Falcons have to start winning the turnover battle after finishing last in the league and 106th in the nation in turnover margin.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Tight ends. Air Force always brings in a ton of bodies and recruits to flow through the program to gear up for a few years away, but the talent in this class is at tight end with Pete Cender out of Michigan and Trent Gow out of Texas two good-sized receivers who could add another dimension to the offense. Running backs Tim McVey and Bryan Driskell fit the Falcon type, while linebackers Kyle Williams and Joel Foy lead a decent group.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 87. That Class Was Heavy On ... The Falcons have to try to improve a defense that struggled way too often, and it’s time for the 2009 recruiting class of good defensive players to come up big. This year’s class is full of athletic lineman who’ll move around between linebacker and the front line starting in 2014. As always, the players are coming in who can run the attack with some talented, speedy running backs who can contribute early on.

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 98. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. The Falcons got plenty of help for the defensive line with fantastic ends coming in to provide a tremendous pass rush for the next several years. The secondary also got bodies with Cedric Parker leading a good group of corners. The focus will be at quarterback with Kent Rollins a ready-made option playmaker and Colton Huntsman and Teddy Ruben two runners who’ll get their shot. 6-4, 205-pound Christian Gann will be a No. 1 receiving target soon.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 83. That Class Was Heavy On ... Linebacker. This is a diverse class with a little something for all spots, but for the second straight season the top players are on the defensive side. Linebacker got the biggest influx of talent with three interesting prospects including Austin Arias, a safety-sized tackling machine who got a little interest from the Arizona schools but was too small for a big-time program. He, along with Joey Nichol and Seth Kline, will be the keys to the defense in a few years.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 117. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defense. As always, Air Force had to get a specific type of player, and as always, it went with smallish, quick defenders for the line and the secondary. Dan Zotto leads the way up front, while head coach Troy Calhoun brought in a few short, athletic corners. James Chambers could be a fixture at inside linebacker sooner than later.


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