College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Air Force season with what you need to know.
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players | Keys To The Season
– What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
– Air Force Schedule Analysis
– Air Force Falcons Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Offense
– It’s Air Force, so you know how this works. The team needs to run well to win, it has to control the clock, and it has to be able to overwhelm teams with its style.
The offense led the nation with 306 rushing yards per game, and the defense was relatively decent, but it was still just a 3-3 season because the O didn’t do quite enough low-scoring losses to San Jose State and Army. And now there’s a whole lot of work to do.
– Air Force is always rebuilding – that’s sort of how the service academy teams operate – but this year it’s really going to be a problem. It’s one thing when the Falcons have to replace eight starters, and it’s another to have to do it when so many teams get so much experience back in a super-senior season.
At least the backfield should be fine. Leading rusher Brad Roberts hammered out 461 yards and five scores as fullback, but he could move around where needed.
The offense is missing the top tailbacks, but QB Haaziq Daniels returns as a strong runner and good enough passer. Daniels and Roberts will bright the 1-2 punch, but the offense has to unearth more flash for the outside along with Brandon Lewis, who averaged nine yards per crack.
– The entire starting offensive line is starting over, but that’s nothing new. Again, Air Force is used to grooming pavers to be ready to go as upperclassmen, but again, this isn’t the year to need a wholesale overhaul at one unit that was so effective.
As always, it’s the job of the receivers to 1) block, 2) catch a few deep passes per game, 3) block more. TE Kyle Patterson led the team with 12 catches for 205 yards and two scores, but if Lewis is used more as a runner than a receiver, the corps is all but starting over.
NEXT: Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Defense
4. Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– The defense that has to replace eight starters from 2020 gets a bigger break than the offense. The D gets “turnback” players returning – they’re the guys who opted out in a global pandemic year. Even so, Air Force was sixth in the nation in total defense allowing just 303 yards per game and 15 points per outing. Like the offense with the running game, the coaching staff figures it out on defense.
– The the turnbacks that were an issue for the teams depth last year now means 2019 leading tackler Demonte Meeks is expected to be a big factor again for a linebacking corps that needs him. He’s an all-star hitter who came up with 98 tackles two years ago, joining 5-11, 220-pound Johnathan Youngblood who’ll play a bigger role.
– The secondary is in the best shape with Milton Bugg back after missing last season – he led the team in interceptions with three in 2019. The safety tandem of Corvan Taylor and Ethan Erickson will be solid – Taylor was third on the team with 33 stops.
The Falcons didn’t do much to get into the backfield, but it didn’t seem to matter all that much. Getting back Jordan Jackson for the D line is a huge help to go along with a whole slew of young parts for the rotation.
NEXT: Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Top Players
Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Top Players
Best Air Force Falcons Offensive Player
QB Haaziq Daniels, Jr.
The Air Force offense has its playmaking quarterback, and everything works around him from there. Daniels is quick, tough, and built like a running back averaging 5.4 yards per carry with three scores. He’s got a good enough deep arm to hit the big play when they’re there, and he’s just getting started.
2. RB Brad Roberts, Jr.
3. TE Kyle Patterson, Jr.
4. WR/RB Brandon Lewis, Sr.
5. RB Timothy Jackson, Sr.
Best Air Force Falcons Defensive Player
LB Demonte Meeks, Sr.
Back after opting out last year, 2019’s leading tackler made 98 tackles with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. Now he’s rested and healthy, and he should be an all-conference force on the inside with the ability and talent to get behind the line. While he’s not going to be asked to be a regular pass rusher, he can do it.
2. DE Jordan Jackson, Sr.
3. CB Milton Bugg, Sr.
4. S Corvan Taylor, Sr.
5. LB Johnathan Youngblood, Soph.
NEXT: Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Air Force Falcons Biggest Key: Offense
The offense HAS to be better at generating points in the red zone. This isn’t going to be a high-powered attack that can afford to give away opportunities – the defense just isn’t going to produce a ton of takeaways – and it can’t come away empty when inside the 20.
The team scored six points in the loss to San Jose State and seven against Army – and was 1-for-4 in the red zone in the two losses.
Overall, the Falcons scored 71% of the time inside the 20 – it was among the worst teams in the nation at it – after coming up with points 89% of the time in 2019 and at a 91% clip in 2018.
Air Force Falcons Biggest Key: Defense
For some freakish reason, interceptions mean the world to this defense. It’s not a D build on getting into the backfield of generating much of a pass rush, and there are always games against service academies and running teams from the Mountain West to deal with, but …
Picking off passes matter.
Last year the D came up with just five interceptions in the six games. It got one against Navy, two against Utah State, and one against New Mexico. Now, it’s coincidental that Air Force also won those three games against the three weakest teams on the schedule – to get the other pick in the loss to San Jose State – but don’t generate interceptions and there’s a problem.
Out of the 19 losses over the last four years, Air Force came up with a total of three interceptions.
It’s not a D that’s going to be great on third downs, and again, it doesn’t come up with sacks. Just get the ball back.
Air Force Falcons Key Player To A Successful Season
OT Ryan Booth, Sr.
And throw in there any random name on the potential depth chart for the offensive line. Booth isn’t a massive blocker, but he’s a good athlete who can move. Now he’ll be asked to try being one of the key guys on the left side and potentially replace a star in Parker Ferguson. With an entire line that needs an overhaul, it needs guys who worked their way up to be ready for right now. It’s what Air Force does.
Air Force Falcons Key Game To The 2021 Season
at Boise State, Oct. 16
The schedule isn’t all that bad with six winnable games to get the year started. It’ll be rough to get to 6-0 – going to Navy is hardly a given, and the Mountain West games are going to be fights – but even 4-2 wouldn’t be too bad. However, then it gets nasty.
The Falcons haven’t beaten Boise State since 2016 when they had the blue turfer’s number winning three in a row in the series. If the team really does come together fast, there’s an outside chance this could be for the Mountain Division title.
2020 Air Force Falcons Fun Stats
– 3rd Quarter Scoring 17 – 4th Quarter Scoring 54
– 4th Down Conversions: Air Force 8-of-11 (73%) – Opponents 3-of-10 (30%)
– Field Goals: Air Force 5-of-9 – Opponents 2-of-6
NEXT: Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction
Air Force Falcons College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction
Air Force has to replace just about everyone on both sides of the ball in a year when just about everyone else returns ridiculous numbers of starters.
Can this still work? Can the Falcons use the one tune-up game against Lafayette before diving into the fun against Navy on the road and the Mountain West opener against Utah State to follow?
Fortunately, the first half of the season is just light enough to allow the Falcons to improve while still building up their win total before things get a whole lot harder in the second half.
Set The Air Force Falcons Regular Season Win Total At … 6.5
It’ll likely be possible to pull off a win over Boise State or San Diego State, but there’s a brutal run of four games in five away from Colorado Springs. In that run, the San Diego State game is the only home game in a seven-week span.
It’ll be too much to pull off a run to get to the Mountain West Championship, but with no San Jose State, Hawaii or Fresno State to face, and with the good early part of the slate, getting to a bowl game should be a given.
At least, it should be if the Air Force next-man-up style of replacing talent works again.