2017 Air Force Falcons Season Preview

As a Falcon die hard I “CAN’T WAIT” for the 2017 season to begin!

Last year on all accounts was a very successful season; going 10-3, winning our 20th Commander in Chief’s Trophy (Sunk Navy and Beat Army) and destroying the University of South Alabama 45-21 in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

Now, I’m going to sound like an unrealistic and ungrateful ‘BAMA fan here. We dropped a couple of losses we shouldn’t have; we should’ve gone 12-1 and finished the season vying for the Mountain West Title, a national ranking and a bowl game with a seven-figure payout – but we didn’t.  Now that I have that off my chest, it’s back to my 10-3 Falcon Love!

This past season we lost a lot of seniors who are all now going pro on the greatest team in the world, the United States Air Force.  Air Force teams are always stacked with upperclassmen. Coach Calhoun and The Great Fisher DeBerry, for the most part, had to rebuild their teams every year, but this past year was a little excessive.

With the consistency I have seen over the last 3 seasons and 28 wins, I feel the times have changed.  Air Force Football is getting depth and moving into the re-load stage of Calhoun’s tenure as head coach.  It is unlikely we have another 10-win season but without a doubt, we will go bowling again, and we will keep the Commander in Chief’s Trophy at home in Colorado Springs for the 21st time.

Offensively we should light up the score board this year and finish at the top of the NCAA in rushing yards per game.  We are pretty stacked at the quarterback position, which is important because I can’t remember the last time one QB made it through an entire season without getting hurt.

The starter, 5’11″ 201-pound junior Arion Worthman, is a different model than your typical Air Force QB.  He is a pretty thick guy with extremely strong legs and last year showed he was durable.  He came in for the injured Nate Romine and won the remaining six games, averaging 22 carries per start with only 7.6 passes per game.  Romine is the better passer of the two and will back up Worthman. Behind Nate, my guess would be freshman Beau English.

The stable of running backs is highlighted by returning starter, senior Tim McVey,  A.K.A. Timmy Turbo who averaged 8.5 yards per carry last season. The triple option duo of Worthman and Timmy Turbo will be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators’ game plans. Air Force lost two beefy fullbacks but will reload with junior Parker Wilson and sophomore Tavin Birdow.

They will be running behind a relatively experienced offensive line with four senior starters anchored by Alex Norton at center. In order to keep the defense honest, Worthman will need to air it out a little more than last year.  He will have two large targets in 6’5” junior Jake Matkovich and 6’4” senior Cody Bronkar. The offense will need to put points on the board.

The defense was the hardest hit by graduating seniors, losing 12 of the 13 top tacklers and returning only one starter in senior linebacker Grant Ross. Coach Tim Cross and the Storm Drain are going to need to plug the gaps and harass opposing quarterbacks all year. The 6’4” 285 pound senior Santo Coppola will be an experienced pass rusher from the defensive end position.   The secondary will be extremely inexperienced thus the overwhelming need to have a strong pass rush.

On special teams, we have senior kicker Luke Strebel who was just placed on the watch list for the 2017 Lou Groza Award.  Luke has been a perfect 88-for-88 thus far in his Air Force career on extra points and is also 32 of 36 in career field goals.  Of course when we discuss special teams we have to bring up Timmy Turbo again. Look for quite a few huge kick-off returns out of McVey this year and they will come when we most need them.

For the Falcons, the number one priority of every team is to Sink Navy, Beat Army and win the Commander in Chief’s Trophy.  It will be tough playing Navy in Annapolis this year but we will come home victorious and we will drum Army again to keep the trophy where it belongs in Colorado Springs.

Playing Michigan in the Big House will be an experience but look for us to fight until the end of that game.  The Mountain division of the Mountain West is a stacked with great competition.  Challenges with away games at Colorado State and Boise State will decide the division title.   The 2017 season will be a good year for my birds.

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