What should have been a straight forward home win for the Falcons proved be disastrous as a result of continued poor personnel management and bad play calling.
Air Force welcomed a very young Nevada Wolfpack into Falcon Stadium in hopes of getting a conference win to equalize last week’s conference loss to Utah State.
So far this season, the Falcons have been given several learning opportunities. They were able to beat up on the FCS Stony Brook Seawolves in their first game. The second game proved the importance of playing tight defense against strong opponents while taking calculated offensive risks against Florida Atlantic University. The last game could have been seen as a tough lesson to learn after facing a strong quarterback and capable pass rush that they probably should have beaten.
This game was different. Air Force was favored going into this game and the opponent was nothing to write home about.
The Nevada freshman running back Toa Taua appeared to be powerful, but fairly slow. He preferred to will his way across the line of scrimmage instead of using any sort of finesse running technique, and his impact was limited, averaging 5.8 yards on 13 carries with no touchdowns.
Entering the game, freshman Romeo Doubs was highly touted by the analysts, but only earned 40 yards on 7 receptions. Elijah Cooks, however, reeled in two receptions, resulting in 63 yards and two touchdowns.
At this point, a tactical breakdown of this game is useless. For every problem that is seemingly fixed, a new one arises. Air Force DB Zane Lewis intercepted an under thrown pass and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. Third string quarterback Donald Hammond III took control of his offensive opportunities and threw for 71 yards, a passing touchdown, and rushing for a touchdown.
On defense, the Air Force safety bit twice on stunts, allowing long passes, resulting in a 40 yard touchdown and a 23 yard touchdown pass from Nevada’s Elijah Cooks. Air Force standout Lakota Wills left early in the game due to what seemed to be a minor injury, severely impacting the pass rush.
Frustration is the key word that comes to mind when reviewing today’s game. It didn’t seem that there were many blown offensive plays or defensive failures, but rather, a continued inability to manage the Air Force personnel’s talent.
This game should have been a case study on how to win against an equally matched (or slightly worse) opponent. However, Air Force now has a new set of issues to address. We’ve seen three different types of offense. A well balanced passing and triple option package was presented against Stony Brook, a high powered spread offense was utilized against FAU, and a confusing mix of both was employed against Utah State. Tonight we saw an unprepared, desperate attempt to mix in passing, triple option, and run-pass-option from the Falcons.
Going into Navy, there are a lot of questions as to how Coach Calhoun plans to win. However, there seems to be no sense of urgency from him or any members of his coaching staff. While the Air Force players seem willing and ready to put everything on the line to get the job done, today’s effort against a low-threat Nevada Wolfpack proved to be a challenge for the tenured Air Force staff.
Today was needed to be a statement win for Air Force. They should have shown that they can handle the middle of the pack teams from the Mountain West before shifting the focus on Commander in Chief Trophy goals. The time to get the Falcons back on track is over. I am labeling next week’s game against Navy as a must-win if the Falcons wish to earn any level of measured success this season, whether it be within inter-service academy play or in a bowl game.