2012 Game Preview-Air Force
What to watch on offense
An Air Force alum, Troy Calhoun previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texas and an assistant with the Denver Broncos. Calhoun took the Air Force academy following three consecutive losing seasons and immediately turned the program around. The Falcons have reached a bowl game in all five seasons since Calhoun took over the program
Even though Calhoun has an NFL pedigree, the Falcons continue to run large segments of the triple option wishbone offense used by the other service academies. The Falcons use a modified wishbone offense that combines the option with elements of the pro style passing game. The Falcons routinely pile up monster rushing totals, averaging over 300yds per game the last two seasons.
The Falcons lost their starting QB and most productive wing back but do return FB Mike DeWitt who ranked 2nd on the team in rushing yards. The Falcons also lost their two most experienced pass catches but do return the electric Mikel Hunter who averaged 17 yds per reception last season.
Like all service academies, the Falcons must deal with weight restrictions on its players. Weight restrictions limit the size of the Falcons offensive line. No offensive lineman for the Air Force academy weighs more than 255lbs. The lack of size in the Falcons offensive line requires them to play with exceptional technique, much of which includes the controversial practice of cutting opposing defensive linemen at the knees.
Best Offensive Player
FB Mike DeWitt: The play of the FB is critical to the success of the triple option. While his role as FB does not allow for a lot of big plays, DeWitt was the model of consistency a year ago. Amazingly, DeWitt was never stopped for negative yards last season.
Head Coach– Troy Calhoun- 6th Year
Off Coor– Blane Morgan, Clay Hendrix-5th Year
Def Coor– Charlton Warren-3rd Year
QB Tim Jefferson
RB Asher Clark
OG AJ Wallerstein
WR Zach Kauth
LB Brady Amack
CB Anthony Wright
FS Jon Davis
TB Mike Dewitt
OT Jason Kons
WR Mikel Hunter
LB Alex Means
LB Jamil Cooks
FS Anthony Wooding
What to watch on defense
In order to mask the lack of size on the defensive line, the Falcons use a 3-4 defense under the direction of Co-Defensive Coordinators Charlton Warrant and Steven Russ. The Falcons use a variety of blitzes to both get after the QB and stop the run. Blitzing is a critical component of the Air Force defense in order to offset struggles with traditional defensive schemes.
Like the offensive line, weight restrictions have a big impact on the size of the Falcons defensive line. The average size of the Falcons front four is 238 lbs and the unit has historically struggled in stopping the run as a result.
The Falcons back seven is almost completely new after losing 6 starters to graduation. The most experienced player in the secondary is FS Anthony Wooding who is responsible for aligning the defense and making the defensive calls. Wooding was 5th on the team in tackles a year ago from the SS position but has moved over the FS position made by First Team Mountain West safety Jon Davis a year ago.
Overall the defensive unit is short on size, experience and, talent.
Best Defensive Player
LB Alex Means: Means was 3rd on the defense in tackles and led the Falcons in sacks a year ago with 6. Means mans the all important hybrid DE/OLB position that is responsible for creating havoc in the opposing backfield.
Michigan Rush Def vs. Air Force Rush Off
The Falcons normally have the advantage with their rush offense is nearly every game they play. The combination of offensive system and technique catches most defenses off guard, especially when teams have little time to prepare.
While only one game into the season, the Wolverines rush defense has been shaky. The Wolverines do enjoy a tremendous advantage in size and talent.
Advantage- Air Force
Michigan Pass Def vs. Air Force Pass Off
Even with the loss of Blake Countess the Wolverines have a clear advantage going into the game. The Falcons do not emphasize the passing game which exists almost exclusively off of the run game.
Michigan Rush Off vs. Air Force Rush Def
While they failed to show it against Alabama, Michigan’s offense line has number of talented and experienced players. The return of Fitz Toussaint to the lineup should also prove to be a big boost to the Wolverines running game.
Holding the Wolverines to less than 200 yds will be viewed as a success by the Falcons who are badly overmatched in this area.
Michigan Pass Off vs. Air Force Pass Def
Michigan has more than enough talent to produce big plays in the passing game against the Falcons. The key for Michigan will be getting consistently accurate passes from the QB.
The Falcons lose three of four starters from a year ago in the secondary. Air Force gave up 355 yds passing to Idaho State a week ago in their win.