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2007 Air Force Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 17, 2007


Preview 2007 Air Force Falcons

Air Force Falcons

Preview 2007


By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Air Force Offense Preview | 2007 Air Force Defense Preview
-
2007 Air Force Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Air Force Preview 

After 23 years under Fisher DeBerry, and three straight losing seasons, Air Force is undergoing an overall facelift in an attempt to become competitive again in a Mountain West that’s gotten better over the last few years.

As the leader of the new era, new head man Troy Calhoun is in a bit of a sticky situation. On the one hand, he wants to improve the offense and add more wrinkles and updates, but on the other, he has a team built for running the ball in a flexible form of the option. Even so, there might not be a need for a major overhaul; all the Falcons may need is just a little tweaking, some new ideas and a fresh start.   

Head coach: Troy Calhoun
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 27, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Falcon Players
1.
LB Drew Fowler, Sr.
2. QB Shaun Carney, Sr.
3. FS Bobby Giannini, Jr.
4. WR/RB Chad Hall, Sr.
5. RB Chad Smith, Sr.
6. CB Garrett Rybak, Sr.
7. DE Ryan Kemp, Jr.
8. C Blaine Guenther, Sr.
9. DE Jake Paulson, Jr.
10. TE Travis Dekker, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-7

Sept. 1

South Carolina St

Sept. 8

at Utah

Sept. 13

TCU

Sept. 22

at BYU

Sept. 29

at Navy

Oct. 6

UNLV

Oct. 13

at Colorado State

Oct. 20

Wyoming

Oct. 25

at New Mexico

Nov. 3

Army

Nov. 10

at Notre Dame

Nov. 17

San Diego State

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
4-8
2006 Record:
4-8
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/9 at Tennessee L 31-30
9/23 at Wyoming W 31-24
9/30 New Mexico W 24-7
10/7 Navy L 24-17
10/12 Colorado State W 24-21
10/21 at San Diego St L 19-12
10/28 BYU L 33-14
11/3 at Army W 43-7
11/11 Notre Dame L 39-17
11/18 Utah L 17-14
11/24 at UNLV L 42-39
12/2 at TCU L 38-14

Navy proved that a service academy can still be successful, but it wins games because of its perfectly executed triple-option offense and phenomenal coaching. Army proved that even a great coaching staff, like it had when Bobby Ross was there, can’t always make up for a lack of overall talent. Air Force has to win by not making mistakes, going hard for a full four quarters, and simply out-executing the mediocre teams. It should be able to do all three this year.

The Falcons lost five games by a touchdown or less in a 4-8 season, but they got worse as the season went on. It’s one thing to lose by one at Tennessee in the season opener, and it’s another to lose at UNLV. Worse yet, they got blasted by two of the three Mountain West powers, losing to BYU and TCU by a combined score of 71-28 (they also lost to Utah, 17-14).

No one’s going to expect miracles right off the bat, but with a not-that-bad schedule that should yield six wins if everything goes to perfection, there’s a chance Calhoun can restore some of the former glory in a quick turnaround.

What to watch for on offense: Running, as usual, but with more passes thrown down the field and a variety of different looks. Getting veteran quarterback Shaun Carney back for his fourth year as the starter is a good beginning, and having several decent backs, led by Chad Hall, who’ll play a hybrid of running back and receiver, should keep the nation’s third-best running game rolling. Calhoun wants to run well and throw efficiently, but Air Force did that last year without results. To finally start winning the big games, the Falcons need more pop in the passing game, and that’s where it’s going to take some time. Service academies and consistent, dangerous air attacks don’t necessarily mix.

What to watch for on defense: An emphasis on stopping the run. That’s easier said than done, but the Falcons have a good player to build around in all-conference linebacker Drew Fowler, a tackling machine. Only one starter returns on the line after an injury-plagued season, but the defensive front still did a nice job. The run defense succeeded at the expense of making plays in the backfield, and now the hope is to do a little of each well. That’s why …

The team will be far better if … the defensive front seven can get into the backfield. Nineteen sacks and a mere 46 tackles for loss weren’t enough to slow down the higher-octane attacks. With absolutely no pressure whatsoever, the secondary had major problems against anyone who wanted to dink and dunk. The Falcons have to dictate the action more rather than playing read-and-react, and they have to be far better on third downs after finishing last in the nation by allowing teams to convert a ridiculous 56% of their chances (no one else was over the 50% mark).

The Schedule: It'll be a Mountain West trial by fire for Calhoun, as Air Force plays the league's big three, Utah, TCU and BYU, in its first three conference games, all in September. Making matters worse, the Utah and BYU showdowns are on the road. If that wasn't enough, the Colorado State and New Mexico games are also away. On the non-conference slate, South Carolina State is a nice early tune-up, but road games at Navy and Notre Dame aren't going to be fun. Getting Army and San Diego State in November should help end with a good kick.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Shaun Carney. He’s been everything to the offense for the last three seasons, rushing for 1,924 yards and 25 touchdowns while becoming an ultra-efficient passer. His completion percentage has always been solid, but he took another step forward last year, throwing just three interceptions and 12 touchdown passes. Now he has to do more bombing away downfield.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Drew Fowler. As sure a tackler as there is in the Mountain West, Fowler led the league in stops averaging 10.2 per game. He’s not going to make too many plays in the backfield and is just average against the pass, but he’s the ultimate hole-plugger against the run.

Key player to a successful season: Senior WR Mark Root, or some other receiver who can stretch the field. Even though he only started in three games, all late in the year, Root led the team with 314 receiving yards on 16 catches. Carney is a good enough passer to put the ball in the right place, and now the receivers have to do something with it.

The season will be a success if ... Air Force comes up with six wins. South Carolina State is a slam-dunk to open the season, and games against Army, Wyoming, San Diego State, and UNLV are all winnable. Road trips to Colorado State, Navy and New Mexico could go either way if the Falcons are sharp and don’t make mistakes. It’s asking for too much for a bowl bid, but even with all the turnover, a two-game improvement would be a nice start for Calhoun.

Key game: Sept. 8 at Utah. The Falcons battled the Utes in a 17-14 loss last year to kick off a four-game losing streak to finish the season. In the Mountain West opener, and with TCU and a trip to BYU to follow over the next two weeks, upsetting Utah might be necessary to avoid a brutal 0-3 conference start, while providing a huge boost of confidence.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Air Force first quarter scoring: 41; Air Force fourth quarter scoring: 102
- Penalties: Air Force 47 for 410 yards; Opponents 67 for 555 yards
- Rushing attempts/lost fumbles: Air Force 660 (lost 10); Opponents 415 (lost 13)

 

Related Stories
2007 Air Force Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 Air Force Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007
2007 Air Force Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 17, 2007








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