Each Sunday, we will take a look at the best performances of the weekend from across the service academy football games and bring you our weekly CIC MVP.
While Air Force was the only team of the three to come away with a victory in week one, defeating FCS foe Stony Brook 38-0, there were some solid performances from each school that warrant mentioning.
Air Force: Kyle Johnson, ILB
You could theoretically just name the Air Force defense as a whole the MVP. After struggling mightily last season, it was great to see the defense carry the day for the Falcons. Coming into the season, the defense S&P+ was projected at 123 in FBS, after finishing last season at 118. So, for the team to pitch a shutout in the first week of the season goes a long way to providing Air Force fans hope that this group will be much improved this year. Yes, it was against an FCS opponent in Stony Brook, but this is a Stony Brook team coming off a 10-3 season and a run to the second round of the FCS playoffs.
There were some notable performances including Garrett Kauppila with six tackles and a couple big pass breakups. However, Kyle Johnson stood out, returning an interception for a touchdown early in the game that really set the tone for the defense the rest of the way. He finished with three tackles and the pick 6, earning our first nod this season for player of the game for the Falcons.
Army West Point: Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., QB
Look, I know Army fans are upset with the 21 pass attempts. And yes, Hopkins 10 completions were half of the number that the Black Knights had for the ENTIRE SEASON last year. I also know that a line of 10/21 for 197 yards and a TD aren’t eye popping numbers. But he kept the team in this game longer than they frankly should have been, accounted for over 200 yards of offense and two touchdowns, and certainly had his moments where he looked flat out impressive. He isn’t afraid to sling it, and while the team will need to get back on track in the running game to have the success they expect this season, I believe fans should take comfort in what they saw out of Hopkins if and when they need his arm down the road.
Navy: Zach Abey, WR
Malcolm Perry had a nice game once he got in a rhythm, accounting for 108 yards rushing and a TD with a passing TD as well. Nelson Smith looked impressive and broke off a few nice runs. Nizaire Cromartie’s strip sack was a big moment in the game.
And I get it, Zach Abey only had 17 total yards and 5 carries, but you just can’t discount the 4 rushing touchdowns.
Abey, who lost his starting job at the end of last season has simply gone on to rush for a measly 9 TDs in his last two games since the demotion. And he spent the offseason learning an entirely new position, working himself into a starting job at wide receiver. You have to be impressed with his willingness to accept his new role, dive in head first, earn a starting job, and still, you know, lead all of college football in rushing TDs as a WR week 1.
CIC Week 1 MVP: Abey
Yes, it was in a loss. Yes, Air Force’s defense probably deserves the most recognition in week 1. And, yes, we still have a couple games left to complete week one of the college football season, but come on, your rushing TD leader thus far is a starting wide receiver and that in and of itself deserves some recognition. Don’t believe we got it right this week? Let’s embrace debate! Vote in our poll on Twitter @AAE_SBN and let us know who you think the real MVP is.