2010 Record: (9-4, 5-3 in MWC)
Head Coach: Troy Calhoun (34-18 at Air Force)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Independence Bowl: beat Georgia Tech 14-7
CFBZ Air Force Links
9/3: South Dakota
9/10: TCU (2010 result: lost 38-7)
9/17: Tennessee State
9/24: at Navy (2010 result: won 14-6)
10/8: at Notre Dame
10/13: San Diego State (2010 result: lost 27-25)
10/22: at Boise State
10/29: at New Mexico (2010 result: won 48-23)
11/5: at Army (2010 result: won 42-22)
11/12: Wyoming (2010: result: won 20-14)
11/19: UNLV (2010 result: won 35-20)
11/26: at Colorado State (2010 result: won 49-27)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 30.8 ppg (4th in MWC, 40th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 306.54 yds/game (1st in MWC, 2nd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 119.3 yds/game (9th in MWC, 118th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 425.8 yds/game (3rd in MWC, 28th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 21.1 ppg (3rd in MWC, 28th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 201.54 yds/game (6th in MWC, 103rd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 147.8 yds/game (2nd in MWC, 2nd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 349.3 yds/game (4th in MWC, 37th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.38 per game (2nd in MWC, 31st in Nation)
Penalties: 40.5 yds/game (1st in MWC, 10th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Tim Jefferson, Sr (1459 passing yds, 794 rushing yds, 10 PTD, 15 RTD, 6 INT)
Rushing: RB Asher Clark, Sr (182 for 1031, 5.6 ypc, 5 TD)
Receiving: WR Jonathan Warzeka, Sr (18 rec for 406 yds, 22.5 ypc, 3 TD)
Tackles: LB Jordan Waiwaiole, Sr (96)
Sacks: LB Jordan Waiwaiole, Sr (2)
Interceptions: S Jon Davis, Sr (3)
Athlon Sports: Poinsettia Bowl (vs Nevada)
Phil Steele: Poinsettia Bowl (vs Nevada)
In the four years preceeding Troy Calhoun's arrival at Air Force, the Falcons went 20-26. In his first four years the Falcons have posted a record of 34-18. I think it's safe to say that Calhoun has put the Falcons back on the football map. Another thing to note was that before Calhoun it had been five years since the Falcons had a winning record in the MWC. Calhoun has gone 21-11 in conference play with a winning record every year and he's taken them bowling every year (winning the last two). Air Force has a lot of seniors on this team and along with Boise State are the most experienced team in the Mountain West. Air Force plays some tough games this year (TCU, at Navy, at Notre Dame, San Diego State and at Boise State) but there schedule also sets up where they will be favored in their last five games. If they can make it through the first half of their schedule in good shape then it will turn out to be another good year for the Falcons. We caught up with the guru of the MWC, Jeremy Mauss of Mountain West Connection to get an inside view of the 2011 Air Force Falcons.
Air Force went 9-4 last year and took out Georgia Tech in their bowl game. All of their losses last year (with the exception of TCU) were really close. What do they need to improve to get to the next level and challenge for the MWC Title?
First they need to replace fullback Jared Tew. That position is very important to Air Force and Tew was holding down that position for the past three years. The fullback is a key element to the offense with the fullback dive and in the run option offense. The fullback position will most likely be a committee position for the first few weeks until one player stands out. The Falcons do have an experienced quarterback in Tim Jefferson who is a four-year starter and senior running back Asher Clark to run the offense. Health is another key concern as the season goes along, the Academy has a weight restriction which can cause lineman to breakdown due to injuries. With the triple-option offense the Falcons run they are not a quick striking offense which means they need to have their defense keep opposing teams in check by keeping games close and not allowing teams to get into the 30s. That will be tough with San Diego State and Boise State on the schedule, but with TCU they get the Horned Frogs in week two and at home and the last time TCU went to Air Force the game was very close with TCU squeaking out a narrow win. Their defense was solid last year, but they need to improve on their rushing defense to take the next step to be able to win the 2011 Mountain West crown.
Air Force was second in the Nation in rushing last year and they return their two leading rushers. Do you see any under-the-radar guys that might make an impact at RB this year for the Falcons?
As mentioned above whoever can emerge as the top fullback could rush for at least 500 yards and possibly up to the 750 range if they get the job early in the year.
Air Force was 109th in the Nation in sacks, recording only 13 for the year. They had 23 in 2009. Are there any newcomers that can help in this department?
Doubtful, because a freshman or even redshirt freshman rarely will be on the varsity squad. Six of the 13 sacks were credited to out going seniors, so there is room for underclassmen to fill in that void. A few players who could fill that roll would be Caleb Konemann and Austin Niklas both players are linebackers and combined for three tackles for loss, but they should be seeing an increased roll due to the graduating seniors.
For those that don't follow Air Force that closely...who are the players to watch on this team?
Quarterback Tim Jefferson and running back Asher Clark. Both are seniors and Jefferson has been a starter since his freshman year and last year he broke out with his best season ever. The quarterback in the triple-option is expected to run the ball quite a bit, Jefferson also has an above average arm and can burn defenses that stack the box. Clark had over 1,000 yards and averaged 5.66 per carry last year. He is not a touchdown player and is unlikely to break out for a large gain, but he is a consistent runner and is tough to bring down. Being the most experienced returning back, Clark's work load should increase from 14 carries per game and closer to 20.
Besides the Army and Navy games, what are the most important games for Air Force this year?
The rival games against Wyoming and Colorado State, but the Falcons should not have any issues with defeating them. The big games are TCU, Boise State and San Diego State. The TCU game is key and with it being in week two of the season it will give the Falcons a good chance to possibly win since early in the season is when Air Force is the most dangerous. The San Diego State game is one that the Falcons will want revenge on after losing last year to the Aztecs. Finally, the Boise State game because the Broncos have never seen the Air Force triple-option and it is difficult to defend. Even teams who face that attack each year struggle against the Falcons.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I'll say 10-2. That would give the Falcons double-digit wins for the first time since 1998. I think if they do get nine wins the season will still be a success. The Falcons should be favored in nine of their games and in my opinion they have a legitimate shot of defeating those teams which are TCU, Boise State and Notre Dame. They get TCU early, Notre Dame has lost to Navy the past two years and they run the same option offense but the Falcons have a better quarterback and running back and finally Boise State because they have not seen the triple-option offense.
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