AFAFalcons.com member "LRFHerk" for his research on AFA's second
football opponent of the 2008 season. Herk, an avid Air Force fan,
has put together a very interesting and informative preview of the
Here is a preview of what to watch for in this week's Mountain West match-up between the Falcons and Pokes in Laramie. Last week, Air Force had their way with the overmatched Thunderbirds of Southern Utah. C1C (Cadet First Class) Shea Smith looks to have locked up the role of Falcon signal caller by running Coach Calhoun's offense with devastating efficiency against SUU. Against the Thunderbirds, Air Force's offense averaged nearly 6 yards per play. Air Force gained 433 yards on the ground alone, and unlike their squid counterparts at Navy(Shun White, 348 yards), did so by committee. Smith led the Falcons with 91 yards on the ground and C3C Kyle Halderman looked Chad Hall-esque at Z-back gaining 87 yards on only 6 carries. Remember Air Force fans, you can't spell Hall without Halderman. Despite the huge statistical day, it must be noted that Air Force's offense did fumble four times. However, the swarming Air Force defense held its opponent to only 130 yards of offense so SUU could not fully capitalize on the miscues. Nevertheless, ball handling must be improved as the Falcons don't need to give the Cowboy offense any assistance with scoring. Though the Falcons were not really pushed by their opponent, the same cannot be said for the Cowboys, who survived a 21-20 scare from the visiting Ohio Bobcats. The Cowboys used a balanced attack to produce 271 yards of total offense. Wyoming sophomore transfer QB Dax Crum managed the game well in his first game as a Cowboy despite throwing 2 interceptions. Though the Cowboys and Bobcats played relatively even throughout the game, penalties played heavily into the Bobcat defeat. They committed 12 for 115 yards versus only 48 penalty yards for the Cowboys. Wyoming can expect a much more disciplined team from the Air Force Academy to meet them this Saturday.
When Wyoming has the ball: Expect Air Force's inexperienced linebacker corps to take some time to adjust to the size and speed of Wyoming running backs Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon. Last week, Air Force's defense held SUU to 0.3 yards/carry. That won't happen this week. Also, look for Dax Crum to try to victimize cornerback C2C Brenton Byrd-Fulbright early and often. Byrd-Fulbright is a converted running back who earned the starting corner position with a strong spring. He was beat on a 31 yard touchdown pass for SUU's only points. Byrd-Fulbright has all the physical tools to be a strong corner, but the technique is still a work in progress. In the meantime, look for him to get assistance from Air Force's outstanding safeties Chris Thomas and Aaron Kirchoff. On the positive side for Air Force, look for the defensive line to force Crum into a couple of turnovers. Crum faced very little pressure from Ohio, so expect the Falcon's veteran defensive line along with some creative blitz packages to provide some interception opportunities for the Falcon secondary.When Air Force has the Ball: Look for Troy Calhoun to loosen the collar on Shea Smith. Against SUU, Smith showed he can take care of the ball, but threw only 12 passes of which he completed 8. Air Force will be forced to throw more against Wyoming to keep the stingy run defense of Wyoming honest. If Smith cannot keep the offense moving with his arm, it will be a long day for the Falcon ball carriers. 6'5'' C3C Kevin Fogler is emerging as a promising young receiver, and will have a breakout game against a secondary that was exposed by the Bobcats. Kyle Halderman should emerge as the Falcon's primary ball carrier. Expect him to triple his number of carries from last game. Last season, it was not until after the loss to Navy that Chad Hall was made the workhorse of the offense and the Falcons really started to click. Don't expect Troy Calhoun to take as long this year to discover his team's offensive identity.
Prediction: Early in the game, Air Force will find that the game against SUU did little to prepare them for the speed and size of the Cowboys. The Cowboys will take a slight lead into the half. In the second half, look for the Air Force defense to turn up the intensity and Air Force to get the winning score following a Wyoming turnover.
Final: 17-14 Air Force