In this series we will look at the Mids football opponents for the 2016 season. Today the school we are looking at is Air Force.
Date/time/location/TV: October 1, 3:30pm EST, Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, CO., CBS SN.
2015 Record: 8-6 (6-2 Mountain West). Lost Armed Forces Bowl to Cal 55-36.
Head Coach: Troy Calhoun. Tenth year at Air Force (67-50).
Series History: Air Force leads 28-20..
Last Meeting: Navy and Air Force meet every year alternating home games as one leg of the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. Last year Navy beat Air Force 33-11 in early October in Annapolis.
Top Returners: QB Nate Romine (Sr,) tore ACL in week 2 last year as the starter. FB Jacobi Owens (Sr.) 1,096 yards and 7 TDs in 2015. WR Jalen Robinette (Sr.) 1,738 yards receiving and 12 TDs for his career. OLB D.J. Dunn Jr. (Sr.) 12.5 TFLs and six sacks in 2015. Weston Steelhammer (Sr.) 63 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, and five INTs in 2015.
Key Losses: QB Karson Roberts 1,595 yards and 11 touchdown passes in 2015. RT Sevrin Remmo (2015 1st All-MWC), RG A.J. Ruechel (2015 2nd All-MWC), LT Matt Rochell, combined for 83 career starts. DE Alex Hansen 53 tackles, 15.5 TFLs and 7.5 sacks in 2015.
What You Need To Know: Air Force in 2016 will look a lot like Air Force in 2015 and that is good and bad news for the Falcons. Air Force raced to a 3-0 start to the season, was pulled back to a middling looking 3-3, before going on a tear and winning five straight games to reach 8-3 while playing like one of the best teams in the country. Three losses, two of them ugly, to end the season frustrated those in Colorado Springs, but this will be a fun and dynamic team again this fall.
The biggest difference Navy will see when taking on Air Force this time around is at quarterback. Nate Romine was supposed to be the guy last year, but he suffered a torn ACL in the second game of the season and Karson Roberts stepped in and improved the team. With Roberts gone Troy Calhoun and the coaching staff will have to keep Romine healthy, because the depth chart behind his is ultra thin.
The skill positions will take care of themselves. The Falcons return their top seven running backs, including bruising fullback Jacobi Owens who is looking to post a third straight 1,000-yard rushing season. This offense though is more spread than triple-option at times, and Calhoun will look to use big bodied receiver Jalen Robinette more in the passing game in 2016. There are question marks on the offensive line after three starters graduated, but if the guys up front hold together Air Force will put up points.
Defensively the Falcons are as aggressive as any unit in the country. Lead by strong safety (and amazingly named) Weston Steelhammer and OLB D.J. Dunn Jr., this will be a feast of famine group that aims to cause more mistakes than it makes. Air Force is a heavy blitzing team, and it may need to be even more so to make up for the loss of First-Team All-Mountain West DE Alex Hanson.
2015 Stats That Matter: Offensive points per game, 39th; Defensive points per game, 48th.
Fun Fact: A 2013 North Korea propaganda video named the Air Force Academy as one four potential targets in the US. Only problem was that the video suggested that the Academy was in Louisiana.
Famous Alumni: Heather Wilson (Congress member), 37 Astronauts Greg Popovich NBA Head Coach).