Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturdays Air Force Football game at Colorado State is the final game of the season for the Falcons. Is there a lot riding on it? I say yes, and not because of the obvious. CSU needs the win to become bowl eligible. Air Force needs the win to avoid the worst season in school history. I've seen every game in Troy Calhouns Head Coaching career with the Falcons. I have not seem him that animated and frustrated as I did after Thursday loss to UNLV. He ripped his team, saying they can no longer use youth and inexperience as excuses. His tone (rant would be too strong a word) shocked many of his players, who have been used to seeing Calhoun deal with losses this year in a more reserved manner. But maybe thats what this club needs. I've always been from the school that rasing your voice once in a while and calling people out and demanding accountability is never a bad thing. Players can control effort and hustle. There was none of that for most of the first half Thursday Night. It got better but by then it was too late. If Air Force should beat the Rams Saturday some of the credit needs to go to Calhouns open questioning of his teams desire to the press after the UNLV game. And a win Saturday could give us a peek at what could be a very interesting 2014. But the Falcons need to come out and play with some spark and spirit. Some of that may need to be brought out by the head coach. But a lot of it needs to come from the players. It could be a springboard for next year if the results are positive. But it could also be a dismal end to the worse season in program history.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Air Force has 2 football games left. There's no "saving" the season. You are what you are, and the Falcons are 2-8. True, you can put a crimp in UNLV's chances for a bowl, and perhaps do the same next week at Colorado State. But these two games have to be about Air Force. I was glad to see Troy Calhoun did not let up off the pedal during the bye week. Young inexperienced teams need work, and this team, especially on defense, needs a lot of work. And to build a base for next year, these two games can serve as a bit of a platform for the 2014 season. Whatever ails the Falcons on defense can only be fixed through hard work, and taking a step back and looking at every aspect of the defense, including schemes and coaching. After a week off, and perhaps a fresh perspective, its clear that this season can mean something if Air Force treats these next two games as building blocks for next year. Otherwise, nothing good comes out of this season.
Monday, November 11, 2013
After watching yet another disappoining loss by Air Force to New Mexico Friday night, one has to ask if major changes are needed within the program after the season. Even the worst of defenses forces a team to punt every so often, but the Falcons could not get the Lobos off the field Friday Night. What hurts, (among many things) is, that was a 2-6 football team Air Force lost to. They threw 3 PASSES. Thats it. The Lobos never felt threatened to the point where they had to try more than 3. So whats the problem with the Falcon Defense? It's not just one thing, and I don't profess to have the answer, although earlier in the year it was clear against passing teams Air Force was too passive and played way too far off the line. But the fact this malaise has continued for the entire season would suggest Troy Calhoun has to take a hard look at everything defense. 1) The 3-4 Scheme-I've always liked the 3-4 but you have to wonder as teams evolve on offense how effective it continues to be. Crazy as it sounds, a 4-2-5 look might be the next defenisve evolution. 2) Youth-Its been a challenge all season long. 3) Injuries-See Youth 4) Coaching-Air Force has struggled on defense the last couple of years, so #'s 2 and 3 listed above were not as much of an issue last year. The Falcons seem to be a bend but lets-not-break squad. Thats not good enough anymore. If you rush 3 and drop 8 you will get beat. If you play too much zone you will get beat. I would like to see the coaching staff play more man to man and gamble more in the box. But the biggest question may be, does Air Force need a change of leadership on defense? I'm the last person to suggest firing people-the world is a tough enough place as it is. I do believe the Falcons, if not doing so already, must open themselves up to different concepts on defense. They may seem foreign, but you know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again. The Coaching staff can't be stubborn, (and I'm not suggesting they are) but they must do things differently on defense than what they have shown the last two seasons. Otherwise 2014 won't look much better than this year.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Air Force plays Army Saturday in Colorado Springs, and if there's any hope of taking a tiny sting out of what has been a bad season, a win over the Black Knights could do that. There are some games where its less about the opponent and more about you. I think this game falls in that catagory. A winnable game for the Falcons? Yes. Doesn't mean its a victory. The Falcons have too many holes on defense and too much inconsistency on offense. And think about how Army views this game. Air Force is down, and Navy is certainly beatable this year. It could be the best chance the Black Knights have of winning the Commander In Chiefs Trophy in a long time. But this game is about the Falcons and what they do. At times you see sparks-stopping San Diego State on 3 4th down plays....Driving like they did at times against the Notre Dame defense. But there's no consistency. Much of that is youth. Some of that is coaching. There's just 4 games left this year. No bowl game. You gotta make these games count. Forget who you are playing. Take care of your own business first, and see what happens.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Air Force football players talked this week about how they can still get to a bowl if they win their last 5 games. Its the right mindset to have after a 1-6 start and 16 days off between games. The biggest hurdle of the 5 is Saturday when Notre Dame comes to Colorado Springs. It's like a second season getting underway for the Falcons. There's an old saying, "They don't remember how you start-They do remember how you finish." The Falcons must finish strong. Injuries have been a factor and inexperience has played into the season as well, but the time is now to put those things behind them. It won't be easy. Notre Dame is not as good as last year, but still plenty good period. Their defense has really come on in the last 4 weeks, and won them the game last week vs USC. The Falcons must have a daring offensive game plan for the Irish. Air Force was too conservative in the 4th quarter against San Diego State and it contributed to the loss. And I'm not talking about running a reverse and having Sam Gagliano throw the football. Air Force needs to roll out more and throw short. They did that once against San Diego State and completed the pass. They don't have to throw 50 times a game, and every pass they do call does not have to be a bomb. Just give the Irish something else to think about besides the option. Otherwise next year may get here sooner than anyone wants.
Friday, October 11, 2013
There have been a lot of challenges this year for Troy Calhoun and his Air Force football team. Losing 2 starting quarterbacks, injuries, youth, inconsistency. But Thursday night the Falcons got off the mat and played an inspired game. They gave up a 14 point 4th quarter lead and succumbed to San Diego State 27-20. Yes, its easy to say Air Force is 1-6 and should have won last night, and the season is going nowhere. But if you looked closely you saw a lot from a gutty group of football players. 1st, Air Force loses another quarterback. Karson Roberts went out after taking a shot and Freshman Nate Romine came on. I asked him afterwards if he felt nervous, calm, anxious. He said to me, "Excited." Love that attitude. He can play. Romine managed the game well. Late in the 4th quarter, and out of timeouts he threw the best pass this year by a Falcon quarterback over the middle to Garret Griffin for a big gain and a first down. (Griffin made a hell of a catch too, up around his helmet.) 2nd-Signs of life from the Air Force Defense. I have been critical of the defense all season long. They play too far off the ball and have not attacked. Part of that is how the coaches have asked them to play. Last night, completely different. The Falcons were aggresive on the line of scrimmage. They had two sacks, and plenty of Quarterback hurries. They were spirited, animated, hungry, and even desperate, which is a good way to play. They stopped the Aztecs 3 times on 4th down, 2 in 4th and goal situations and once, on a big time one on one tackle by Christian Spears to save a touchdown at the 1 yard line. In recent weeks the coaching staff has simplified the playbook and helped the kids think less and play more. Plus, in watching last night I really believe the Coaches were more aggressive in their play calling and not sitting back playing everything underneath. I have said on this blog you can't play defense backing up. You attack. They did last night. Yes they did give up 21 4th quarter points and yes its a loss, but I believe you saw the beginnings of this team shaking off their malaise. Can good things come from a loss? Yes. In life sometimes the best lessons come from pain. Dawn still hasn't broken for the Falcon Football team, but the sky is slowly getting brighter.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Following the Falcons loss to Navy Saturday the title of this blog seems appropriate. At 1-5 Air Force is staring at a December without a bowl game for the first time in 7 seasons. Win out, or take 5 of 6 and you can go to a bowl. But you don't get any sense this team has that kind of run in them at the moment. Its youth has been a big factor. Injuries have not helped. And they are playing good teams. The team has been inconcistent in so many areas. The hope is things can turn around but you wonder if there's time this season for that to happen. Its more than a young team getting experience. And more troubling is the trend that says in its last 31 games Air Force is 14-18. And 3 of the 13 wins are against Football Championship Teams. Take them out and you are 11-18. There's a lot at stake these last 6 games. I've always believed this is where Coaches earn their money the most-when teams are down and struggling. There is hope for the rest of the year, but the window is closing.