2007 Air Force Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 17, 2007

Preview 2007 Air Force Falcon Offense

Air Force Falcons

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know: For what seems like the 19th year in a row, Air Force is going to make an attempt to be more diversified and add some passing to the mix. This time, under new offensive coordinator Tim Horton, it might actually happen. Slowly. Running the ball will still be the team's bread-and-butter, but there will be some shotgun, some spread, and a mish-mosh of other offenses to try to get thing moving. Shaun Carney is a good, veteran quarterback to handle all the changes, but he doesn't have much to work with. The receiving corps needs work before it can become a threat, the backfield will be fine in the triple-option, but could struggle in a traditional set, and the offensive line needs to undergo major changes.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Shaun Carney
83-137, 1,192 yds, 12 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Chad Hall
155 carries, 784 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Mark Root
16 catches, 314 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Shaun Carney
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Mark Root
Unsung star on the rise: Senior RB Chad Smith
Best pro prospect: Carney (as a defensive back or running back)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carney, 2) WR/RB Chad Hall, 3) Smith
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, quick tailbacks
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver, experienced offensive line


Projected Starter: While the entire team will undergo a remodeling job, and the pieces might not be there to properly run a passing offense the way the coaching staff might like, at least there's a decent veteran under center to revolve around. Senior Shaun Carney has been a better passer than he gets credit for completing 60% of his passes last year with 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions while finishing second in rushing with 618 yards and eight scores. He's smart and knows what he's doing, but he'll have even more pressure on his shoulders with the variety of things the offense will try to do. Only 5-10 and 190 yards, he'll make most of his big plays outside of the pocket.

Projected Top Reserves: The backups are designed to run the option, but 5-11, 180-pound sophomore Eric Herbert showed a little bit of passing ability in spring ball and will be groomed to take over next year when Carney is done. It'll take a year to learn everything the next coaching staff wants to do, but it won't be a shock if Herbert gets plenty of time to see some work for the future.

Junior Shea Smith is yet another quick, smallish quarterback who needs to improve his passing skills to have a better shot at the number two job. He hasn't seen any time yet.

Watch Out For ... Carney to have his down moments, but overall become a better overall fit than expected. He's been around long enough to be ready to roll in the shotgun or in the triple-option.
Quickness. As expected, all the Air Force quarterbacks can move and all can make plays on the run. There's more versatility among the three quarterbacks than there might appear to be as long as they're not asked to throw the ball 55 times a game.
Backup experience. Hold your breath every time Carney takes a shot. Backup running back Jim Ollis is the most experienced quarterback behind Carney.
Outlook: Carney is a good, efficient passer who'll tuck and run rather than force something that's not there. As long as the coaching staff doesn't make him something he isn't, he'll be more than fine. The backups have to get meaningful work, even at the expense of disrupting the offensive flow.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Things will be interesting with several different players getting meaningful work. Senior Chad Hall, last year's leading rusher, will be in a hybrid role at a Z receiver where he'll be a pass catcher as well as a runner. Expect him to do more running than catching. The 5-8-180-pound senior is a big-play back who can carry the ball 20 times if needed or be used as a quick third-down back when he lines up in the backfield.

The main tailback will be senior Chad Smith, a career backup who's not going to hit any home runs, but always gains positive yards and is great at getting around the corner. The more running he can do between the tackles, the better.

215-pound senior Ryan Williams will handle the fullback duties after starting five times last year and finishing with 442yards and four touchdowns. He beat up Tennessee for 98 yards and a score and can be a featured back if needed. He hasn't been used much as a receiver, but that'll change.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Jim Ollis was the main backup quarterback option seeing a little bit of time throughout last year. While he's a good runner, he can't throw and now will move back to the halfback spot he played as a sophomore. He's a smart runner who'll know exactly what he needs to do.

Senior Kip McCarthy ran for 60 yards seeing a little bit of time. He's a good athlete who can carry it a few times here and there, but he's not a featured back.

220-pound senior Scott Peeples is the biggest back in the mix and a good blocking fullback. While not the runner Ryan Williams is, he can pound away for a few yards here and there running for 88 last season. He's a true fullback, unlike Williams who could be used as a big tailback.

Watch Out For ... Chad Smith to be a solid runner, but not a spectacular one. The coaching staff will be tempted to make Chad Hall more of a tailback than a receiver, but will need him outside to run the overall offense it wants to.
Options. All the Air Force runners are a variation of the same theme with quick, smallish backs who fight for hard yards. There are different degrees of quickness and athleticism, while Williams has to be used more for his power.
Anyone who'll scare a defense. Look for defensive coordinators to be secretly happy that Hall will line up as a receiver. There's no one else of note in the Falcon backfield.
Outlook: Of the team's two best runners, one is now a modified receiver and the other is the quarterback. The tailbacks will crank out yards be default and function, and while they'll execute their way to productive games against the mediocre defenses, they'll be stopped cold by the better ones.
Rating: 6


Projected Starters
Chad Hall will play the hybrid of running back and receiver, but for the offense to work the right way, he has to shine as a receiver. Not big, he's going to be a quick, short-range target.

On the outside will be junior Mark Root, the leading returning receiver who caught 16 passes for 314 yards averaging 19.6 yards per grab. That was good for second on the team, and now he'll have to be a number one receiver with Victor Thompson gone. At 6-2 and 195 pounds, he has the size to pose a few mismatch problems and just enough speed to stretch the field.

At tight end, Travis Dekker returned and had a solid season after missing all of 2005 hurt. He only caught four passes for 40 yards and a score, and now he'll be a featured target in the offense. More than just a safety valve, he has to prove he can get open on a regular basis and be more than just a blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: If and when Hall is playing in the backfield, 5-11, 175-pound junior Matt Davis will step in at the Z. Also a halfback behind used as a receiver, Davis will do a little of everything with the potential to make some big plays with some of the best speed on the team.

5-11, 195-pound junior Mike Moffett will backup Root on the X after making two catches for 13 yards. He has tremendous deep speed, and now he has to show it off.

Mostly a blocker so far, 6-3, 230-pound junior Keith Madsen will back up Dekker at tight end and he has to become a receiver.

Watch Out For ... this to be a major problem. The Falcons will have to search all over the place for players who can catch, and that includes the running backs, defensive backs, and backup quarterbacks. It'll be a work in progress.
Everyone can block. Don't dismiss this. In the right set up and passing offense, short pass plays could turn into big ones with the downfield blocking these receivers can make.
Catching the football. A fundamental issue for receivers, the Falcons have a bunch of glorified tailbacks playing receiver and not true receivers. Can the tight ends actually catch? We'll see soon enough.
Outlook: It'll take a while for the coaching staff to find the right receivers who can actually do the things they're supposed to. There isn't anyone who'll throw a scare into an opposing defense, at least not yet, and no one who'll demand a double team if Hall doesn't turn into a star. Wanting to mix up the attack is nice, but Air Force was 118th in the nation in passing last year and isn't going to immediately start bombing away.
Rating: 4.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
Blaine Guenther is the only returning starter to the line, but he's a good one. After starting every game at right tackle, the 6-2, 270-pound senior will move to the middle and take over at center where he was a backup as a sophomore. He's one of the team's biggest linemen, and he can move.

Taking over at right tackle for Guenther will be 6-4, 265-pound senior Ryan Zeman, who saw time as a backup. He hasn't been a starter and needs to quickly become one of the team's most dependable blockers. He has the experience and a little bit of quickness to be solid.

Senior Chris Monson will start on the left side moving over from the defensive side where he made two tackles. A former tight end, he's an athletic 6-4 and 255 pounds and aggressive.

The guards are also a bit green with senior Caleb Morris the most experienced of the bunch having seen time in eight games missing a little time hurt. At 275 pounds, he's one of the biggest blockers in the mix and has to live up to the promise he showed a few years ago when he appeared to be developing into a top all-around player.

6-4, 280-pound sophomore Nicholas Charles beefed up big-time over the last year and should be a force at left guard. He doesn't have any room to get bigger, and doesn't need to if he can stay mobile. He started in six games and wasn't bad, but made several first year mistakes.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-6, 280-pound senior Dan Holder might have an awful name for an offensive lineman, but he's a decent backup and a big body for the rotation at left tackle. He can play either tackle spot in the rotation.

6-3, 260-pound sophomore Peter Lusk is a smaller, more mobile option at left guard behind Charles. Once he sees a little time, he could turn into a reliable guard, but he's not going to be a tackle.

6-1, 260-pound junior Andrew Pipes will be groomed to take over the center job next year, and he could see time right away if Guenther has to move back to tackle.

Watch Out For ... several depth chart and lineup changes in an attempt to find the right combination. The idea will be to get the best five linemen on the field at all times, and find spots for them.
Mobility. Designed to pull and make plays on the move, these are technically sound blockers who get down the field and make big blocks.
Experience. There basically isn't any. Guenther and Charles are the two with any appreciable starting experience. Forget about any veterans among the backups. It's hard enough for a new line to jell, and even harder to do when the entire offense is trying to figure out what it's doing.
Outlook: Air Force always seems to have to make wholesale changes on the line and things always turn out fine. There's no experience to rely on and it's going to take a while before this becomes the steady group that fought through injuries and had a decent 2006. With the big boys of the Mountain West coming up early on the slate, it could be uh-oh time.
Rating: 5.5

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2007 Air Force Preview
 -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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