Sep. 9—Air Force Falcons scouting report
Head coach: Troy Calhoun, 16th season (112-75)
This season: 1-0
Last week: Defeated Northern Iowa, 48-17, at home
5 Players to Watch
—QB Haaziq Daniels, Sr.: A 19-game starter, he has thrown for 1,726 yards and 11 touchdowns and run for 1,135 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career. Last week, he threw for 109 yards and ran for 107.
—S Camby Goff, Jr.: Recorded his first career interception last week and also had three tackles. A year ago, he had 42 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
—WR Dane Kinamon, Jr.: Big-play threat had an 80-yard touchdown reception last week, as well as a 71-yard touchdown run. Scored seven touchdowns on only 47 touches last season.
—FB Brad Roberts, Sr.: Posted 114 yards and a touchdown on eight carries last week — the 10th 100-yard game of his career. He ranks 13th in Air Force history with 1,927 career rushing yards.
—ILB Vince Sanford, Sr.: A year ago, he had 17 tackles for loss (15th nationally) for a total loss of 116 yards (4th nationally). He finished with 9.5 sacks and 59 total tackles.
Air Force offense
Since 1980, the Falcons have led the country in rushing three times — including the past two years. Always one of the better rushing teams in the country with their option offense, the Falcons can dominate up front and they utilize a variety of players. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels and fullback Brad Roberts lead the way, but tailbacks DeAndre Hughes and John Lee Eldridge III and others are weapons as well. Daniels is a threat with his arm, too, as 11 of his 85 career completions have been touchdowns.
Air Force defense
So much attention is given to the offense, but the Falcons' defense has been exceptional the past few years. They have a new coordinator (Brian Knorr), but also a lot of experience. A year ago, they were top two in the Mountains West (and top 19 nationally) in both total defense and scoring defense. They have been especially stingy against the run. Last week against Northern Iowa, they allowed only three points in the first three quarters. UNI scored a pair of late touchdowns with the game already decided.
Air Force special teams
Sophomore kicker Matthew Dapore currently has the fourth-best career field goal percentage in program history, at .833 (10-of-12). He made both of his field goals — from 30 and 33 yards — and all five of his extra points last week. The Falcons don't punt often, as they typically rank near the top of the country for fewest punts per game. When they do punt, sophomore Carson Bay has been solid, averaging 40.9 yards a year ago. Dane Kinamon is slated to handle returns, but did not have any opportunities last week.
How Air Force can win
If the Falcons can execute their game on offense — run the ball, control the clock and hit timely passes — they will put points on the board and put stress on the Buffs. Under Calhoun, the Falcons are 77-20 when they have at least one player rush for 100 yards. Defensively, the Falcons need to limit CU's big plays in the passing game and be stout against the run. Turnovers are key, as well. The Falcons are 31-4 in the last eight seasons when forcing two or more turnovers.
—In the past few years, the Air Force offensive line has called itself the "Diesel," which according to AFA, "represents an attitude of toughness and a willingness to block regardless of position." The Diesel helped AFA lead the country in rushing in 2020 and 2021 and the Falcons are currently leading the country after 582 rushing yards last week.
—The Buffs and Falcons have played just once (in 2019) since 1974. However, they did meet almost every year from 1958-74. Air Force won the 2019 meeting, but has never won back-to-back games against the Buffs.
—Air Force is 67-23 at Falcon Stadium during Calhoun's tenure, including 13-3 since the start of the 2019 season.
—Before the season, the Falcons were projected by media to finish second in the Mountain West Conference's Mountain Division, behind Boise State. The Falcons are seeking their first division title since 2015.
—Quarterback Haaziq Daniels ranks fifth in Air Force history for winning percentage by a starting QB (.684, 13-6). He's also top-10 in passing efficiency (3rd, 155.10) and completion percentage (10th, 51.9).