CoogFans' Opponent Preview - Air Force

Few teams in the nation had as big of a turnaround last year as Air Force. The Falcons went from 4-8 during the 2006 season to 9-4 last year and nearly held on to beat California in the Armed Forces Bowl. Coach Troy Calhoun deserves a lot of the credit for turning the team around during his first year, but that was a senior heavy team and there is a lot of rebuilding to do.

Air Force Falcons
Mountain West Conference

2007 Record: (9-4, 6-2)
2007 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl vs. California (L 36-42)
Coach: Troy Calhoun (9-4 at Air Force, 9-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Clay Hendrix and Blane Morgan
Defensive Coordinator: Tim DeRuyter

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Savier Stephens, RB, 148 yards
Passing: Shea Smith, QB, 45 yards
Receiving: Travis Decker, TE, 382 yards
Tackles: Chris Thomas, S, 110
Sacks: Hunter Altman, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Chris Thomas, S, 1

Other Key Returnees: G Nick Charles, DE Ben Garland, K/P Ryan Harrison, DE Ryan Kemp, DT Jared Marvin, OT Keith Williams

Key Losses: CB Carson Bird, QB Shaun Carney, LB Drew Fowler, S Bobby Giannini, C Blaine Guenther, WR Chad Hall, OT Chris Monson, G Caleb Morris, RB Jim Ollis, LB John Rabold, WR Mark Root, CB Garrett Rybak, LB Aaron Shanor, FB Ryan Williams

Few teams in the nation had as big of a turnaround last year as Air Force. The Falcons went from 4-8 during the 2006 season to 9-4 last year and nearly held on to beat California in the Armed Forces Bowl. Coach Troy Calhoun deserves a lot of the credit for turning the team around during his first year, but that was a senior heavy team and there is a lot of rebuilding to do.

Strengths:
For a team that is going to be very inexperienced, having some familiar faces on both lines will be very beneficial. On the offensive side of the ball, Air Force returns guard Nick Charles and tackle Keith Williams to the left side of the line. There might not be a proven player to run the ball, but running left will make any backs job much easier with those two clearing the way. The defensive line is the most experienced group on the entire team. Ben Garland and Ryan Kemp did a decent job on the ends last year, combining for seven sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. The lone man in the middle in the Falcon's 3-4 defense is Jared Marvin. Although Marvin might miss a game or two early in the year while he recovers from a knee injury, Stephen Larson is an experienced back-up. Air Force also sports one of the best kickers and punters in the conference in senior Ryan Harrison.

Weaknesses:
Quarterback Shaun Carney threw all but five passes last year, hybrid running back and receiver Chad Hall led the team in rushing and receiving, Jim Ollis ran the ball most of the time when those two did not and Mark Root was Carney's second favorite receiving target. Now all of them are gone. At quarterback, Shea Smith has the most experience, but junior Eric Herbort and a handful of freshmen will look to earn the starting job. Running a multiple quarterback system is not out of the question either. Running back Kyle Lumpkin and receiver Kevin Fogler had great springs, but there is a lot of production to replace at the skill positions and the Falcons will need to find a few more options. Even starting cornerback Reggie Rembert spent some time with the offense during the spring and will likely play a little at Hall's old spot in addition to his defensive duties and returning kicks and punts.

The Bottom Line:
There are some pieces to build around on defense. Linebackers Hunter Altman and Andre Morris Jr. are back, but both spots in the middle need to be filled. Rembert, just a sophomore, is a quality corner and safety Chris Thomas is the team's top returning tackler, but filling the other two holes in the secondary is a concern. Another nine win season is stretching it, but if the defense can fill those holes and the line can give the offense time to develop, another bowl game is a good goal.

2007 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 299.54 (2nd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 119.85 (118, 9)
Total Offense: 419.38 (39, 2)
Scoring Offense: 29.92 (48, 2)
Rushing Defense: 136.46 (45, 5)
Pass Defense: 232.23 (68, 8)
Total Defense: 368.69 (51, 6)
Scoring Defense: 21.08 (22, 5)
Turnover Margin: .77 (15, 2)
Sacks: 2.15 (54, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 1)


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