2012 Air Force Analysis: A Statistical Review

Some statistics are highly subtle and nuanced. Other statistics hit you over the head with a numerical two-by-four. The latter, not the former, is on display this week.

Yes, it's true that Air Force did lose three of its games last season by a total of 16 points (an average of 5.33 per outing). Moreover, the Falcons' point differential in regulation time in those three contests was only 9 points; Air Force lost by seven to Navy in overtime. Yet, those close shaves offer an incomplete portrait of the way in which the Falcons fell last autumn. Four of the team's losses involved scoreboard margins of at least 19 points.

One might ask, "Was the Air Force team that lost nail-biters more representative of the 2012 season, or was it the team that lost blowouts?" The best answer: Both teams reflected the true nature of the Falcons last season. This was a squad that had its heart broken, and this was also a gridiron group that lost some starch in second halves, losing the ability to keep pace against a more resourceful foe. Coaches can be soothed to an extent by a close loss; in any sport, a narrow miss enables a coach or any other competitor to say to himself (or herself), "If we can just make one or two extra plays, we're there." This is a part of the Air Force narrative from 2012, but the four losses by a minimum of 19 points will not give Troy Calhoun that comfort zone.

Four losses by at least 19 points – it's bulletin-board material, frankly, a fact that should be plastered on locker-room walls and shouted on the field during August camp. Other statistics will show how close Air Force was to a special season in 2012. This statistic is the reminder of how very far removed the Falcons were from any particularly notable achievements. If this fact drives the Falcons to a much higher level of post-halftime performance in 2013, it will wind up bearing fruit.

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