LAST WEEK: Two seasons ago Air Force visited Michie stadium and quickly built a 43-0 halftime lead before defeating Army 43-7. This year, the West Point Cadets were determined not to be embarrassed again on their home turf. Army took advantage of a rare missed tackle by CB Reggie Rembert to score on a 47 yard pass on the third play of the game. After that initial strike, both defenses settled in and the game found its identity as an old fashioned ground and pound duel that would be won or lost in the trenches. Air Force's rushing attack was held to 142 yards, well below their season average of 274.4. Air Force managed only one touchdown on a 1 yard plunge by freshman Tim Jefferson. Groza Award semi-finalist Ryan Harrison used his strong, accurate leg to inch Air Force past Army 16-7 with field goals of 20, 29, and 48 yards. Air Force's defense had another outstanding day forcing three turnovers and allowing Army zero snaps in the red zone. Colorado State had perennial Mountain West power BYU on the ropes last week in Fort Collins. BYU escaped with a 45-42 victory on a Dennis Pitta touchdown reception with 22 seconds remaining. CSU QB Billy Farris had a solid day throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns, and Gartrell Johnson gashed the Cougars for 102 yards at nearly six ypc. CSU will have to put the disappointment of the BYU game behind them quickly if they are to continue to have offensive success against an Air Force team that has held opponents to 17 points per game.
When Air Force has the ball: Tim Jefferson and Asher Clark had considerable trouble getting anything going on the ground against an Army rush defense that has been tough all year. Todd Newell was the lone bright spot for the Falcon offense as he continues running harder as the season progresses with over 5 ypc. If CSU cannot hold Newell under 4ypc, the Falcon offense will be hard to get off the field on third down. CSU opponents have averaged over 5 ypc this year, but the Rams should be able to do better than that against an Air Force offense that has looked one dimensional the last two weeks. In order to take some of the onus off the Air Force defense, the Falcons will need to get a passing game going. Last week, the CSU secondary was eviscerated by Max Hall, but the Falcons do not have the weapons at receiver that BYU does. Therefore, the Falcons must use trickery and misdirection to create opportunities for their receivers. Did I mention that Air Force tailback Asher Clark was recruited as a QB?
When Colorado State has the ball: Air Force has a pair of young corners who will be tested by a balanced CSU attack. The Falcons have been tough against the run all year holding opponents to 3.6 ypc. The Air Force linebackers will get one of their toughest tests of the year against Gartrell Johnson. Johnson has good speed and is very physical. However, the smallish Air Force defenders have countered strong running backs all year by swarming the ball carrier. If Johnson hopes to get going against the Falcons, then Farris must have another strong outing under center for the Rams. Farris' best weapon is Rashaun Greer, who leads the rams with 45 catches this year. Fellow wideout Dion Morton was the star against BYU with 129 yards receiving. The speed at the receiver position for CSU may create match-up problems for the Falcon secondary if Tim DeRuyter's defense has trouble applying pressure. The good news for Air Force is that DeRuyter's creative blitz packages have kept the Falcons in opponents' backfields all year.
Outlook: The Air Force offense has not been on track the last two weeks, but when you have Ryan Harrison kicking for you in the thin air of the Rockies, you don't need to get too close to the end zone to cause damage. Despite the consistency at kicker, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns cost Air Force a loss to Navy this year, and kept several other games closer than they should have been. This week Air Force's offense should improve and score two touchdowns. Air Force keeps the Ram/Falcon trophy 20-10.