Three Game Keys In Review: Utah State
1) First and foremost, Air Force needed to get third down stops and prevent long Utah State touchdown drives. Five of Utah State's eight scoring drives covered at least six plays, including three drives that went at least nine plays. On top of that, Utah State went a staggering 11-of-15 on third down conversions (in contrast to Air Force's 2-of-15 rate). Utah State moved the ball up and down the field on Air Force. Given the Falcons' inability to get off the field on defense, it's no wonder the team struggled.
2) The second key focused on Chuckie Keeton and neutralizing him by limiting his mobility. It was conceded that this would be tough to do, given the dynamic talent Keeton is. However, Keeton went wild in this game and was not contained to any slight extent. He gashed the Falcons for 360 yards and five passing touchdowns, not to mention another 77 yards on the ground. Air Force was best off daring him to beat the Falcons through the air. Keeton did that. Troy Calhoun needed to force other Aggies to make plays, and Utah State – to its credit - did that as well. Keeton put together an elite performance and showed why he was such a big key to this game. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a great player on the other sideline.
3) The third and final key was a fast start, which would prevent the Falcons from falling behind quickly. Air Force isn't a quick-strike team all the time, and if the Falcons fell behind on Saturday, such a scenario was going to require them to get away from their strengths. Utah State opened the game with a touchdown drive, got the ball back, and drove for another score. Before the game was four minutes old, the score was 14-0. From that point onward, it only got worse: Air Force never got closer than eight points again.
Air Force encountered a number of issues in this game, and it's impossible to blame one person. However, when you fail to meet any of the three keys set for you, it makes for a long afternoon. That's what week two was for the home team in Colorado Springs.
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