Air Force Report Card: Boise State

Air Force fell to Boise State 42-20 on Friday. Falcons Report's D. Yates grades Air Force's performance in several key team areas.

Jaleel Awini completed 4-of-9 passes for 99 yards and and interception. It might seem a stretch to award a 'C' grade for this performance but overall it wasn't too horrible for an option offense. Consider the inexperience of Awini and his being thrust into the starting quarterback position and I think he did okay. He completed about half his passes. He had that one great pass for 53 yards to Sam Gagliano in the first half that was a thing of beauty. This is the kind of pass you want if you are an option team and AF got it. You run, run, run at them and then hit them for a rare pass which is a huge gain. Navy did this late in their upset win against Indiana. Awini's interception was very late in the game when they were desperately trying to make something happen with little time. The Falcons receivers need to help him out by holding on to catches and maybe even making a few catches on passes that are not thrown perfectly. Gagliano had one other catch for nine yards and Ty MacArthur had a pair of catches, one for 34 yards and the other for three yards. Air Forces' offensive line did not allow a sack.

The Falcons gained just 188 yards rushing on 52 carries (3.6 YPC). This is a very poor number for an option team. The amount should be at least 300 yards or more and more than five yards per carry on average to be healthy. Boise State focused on shutting down the running back and did a good job of it. While Jaleel Awini finished with 107 yards on 23 carries (4.7 YPC) for two touchdowns. The running backs gained just a combined 85 yards on 25 carries. No running back had a gain of more than 10 yards while the longest run of the night was by Awini for 20 yards. Broam Hart got the majority of carries of the running backs, gaining 57 yards on 18 carries.

Boise State starting quarterback Joe Southwick completed 27-29 passes for 287 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Falcons got very little pressure on him (0 sacks) and the members of the secondary were often in the wrong place which allowed Southwick to play pitch and catch much like Utah State's QB did last week. Gavin McHenry was one player that had a whale of a game for Falcons and he kept this grade from being an 'F'. In the second half he broke up a pass that was intercepted by Christian Spears in the end zone. He also recovered a fumble. His heady play gave Air Force a chance in the second half. Safety Dexter Walker also played well coming up with 10 tackles including seven solos. He also had one tackle for a 3-yard loss.

The Broncos used a good mixture of passing and running to keep the Falcons defense off balance all night. Boise State gained 229 yards and five touchdowns on 41 carries (5.6 YPC) during the game. Running back Jay Ajayi was virtually unstoppable. Ajayi gained 129 yards and four scores on just 17 carries (7.4 YPC). He had scoring runs of 20, 35, 9 and 2 yards. Air Force got valiant efforts from Joey Nichol (9 tackles) and Dexter Walker (10 tackles) but it wasn't enough to stop the Bronco rushing attack.

David Baska punted three times for a 35.7 yard average. This punts traveled 36, 27 and a long of 44. The 27 yarder was punted well in Air Force territory and gave the Broncos starting position at the AF 49. Kicker Will Contant made 2-of-2 field goals, one from 33 yards and the other from 24 yards. Conant is 5-of-5 on field goals so far this season. Anthony LaCoste had one kickoff return for 33 yards. Air Force had no punts returned. There were no major breakdowns on kick coverage return teams. Bricet Cannada had five kickoffs, two of which were touchbacks.

Like Utah State, many times Falcon defenders were out of position to make plays. Air Force isn't the first team to have this problem. Boise State's unique all blue field combined with the solid blue uniforms, didn't make it any easier for the Falcons. One thing that can be improved is recruiting. The Falcons need bigger, faster and more athletic players to keep up with the Utah and Boise States. Combine better recruiting with good practice and player development and things should start to get better for the Falcons. It'll take time though and hard work by the coaching staff. Remember too, this is a young team. Offensively, the Falcons converted on 6 of 14 third downs and two of two fourth down conversions. This isn't bad but the Falcons have to get more production out of their offense, especially the rushing game.

It was a mediocre performance in a hostile environment but it was an improvement over week 2. The two most recent games have provided the Falcons staff with a good barometer of where the program is. Unfortunately, lots of work needs to be done both offensively and defensively. On Saturday the Falcons will host a Wyoming team they barely beat last season on the road. The Cowboys have the majority of their starters back and will provide another tough challenge for the Falcons but Wyoming isn't in the same category as Utah State and Boise State.

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