The opening games for the Air Force Falcons and Florida Atlantic Owls told two different tales. Air Force opened up against the Stony Brook Seawolves from the FCS, while Lane Kiffin and company traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to test their mettle against the AP ranked #6 Oklahoma Sooners.
Air Force took down Stony Brook with ease despite two weather delays, and Florida Atlantic received a good old fashioned Oklahoma butt whoopin’, losing 63 to 14.
The film rooms on both sides are seemingly a mess going into week 2 of the college football season. Air Force needs to avoid over-confidence while riding high on the season opening win and FAU now needs to pivot from playing a strong passing team to the Falcons’ triple option offense.
In their first game, FAU’s defense appeared to be struggling to contain the speed and size of Oklahoma’s receivers. The defensive backs were heavily spread out trying to protect from the deep passes. Although the linebackers were no match for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray’s slippery scrambling, Rashad Smith showed he can hang as a strong middle linebacker for the Owls and he will certainly give the Air Force backfield a tough time this weekend.
Air Force will need to play fast and decisive with the triple option. Aarion Worthman only completed two of his eight passes against Stony Brook, so it seems that FAU may not see Air Force as much of a passing threat. If that appears to be the case, with defensive backs cheating towards the line of scrimmage, the Air Force quarterback will need to stand tall and be ready to throw the deep ball to Ronald Cleveland or Marcus Bennett.
Although it was difficult to see against Oklahoma, Redshirt Freshman Chris Robison can pose a dual threat to the Air Force Defense. FAU relied heavily on screen passes during the first game, but Robison has a quick release and the ability to run sideline to sideline if he needs to. His favorite target was Jovon Durante, and Air Force will especially need to find a way to stop him on screen passes and quick sideline routes.
Along with Robison’s strong run-pass-option game, FAU has another potent weapon in the backfield. Devin Singletary is a stout running back at 5’9” and 200 pounds. The junior from Deerfield Beach, FL is coming off a terrific sophomore campaign and even received some preseason Heisman buzz heading into this year. He is a powerful runner and has the ability to break tackles. He’s very patient and he waits for holes to open up, so the Air Force linebackers will need to play smart. The defensive linemen will also need to find some success against the run in the backfield or they could be in for a long day with someone as talented as Singletary rumbling to the second level repeatedly.
There wasn’t much to write home about for the FAU special teams. Oklahoma blocked a punt early, but it was more of a testament to the size and strength of Oklahoma’s punt return team than FAU having a porous line.
We didn’t get a chance to see much of FAU Kicker Vladimir Rivas’s leg, only seeing action on kickoffs and to kick two extra points.
Air Force will be playing in Boca Raton this weekend. It’s a city more synonymous with retirees and Tommy Bahama shirts than it is college football, but several Air Force players will be heading home to play in front of friends and family, including fullback Cole Fagan.
It is difficult to know where the crossroads of these two teams will meet based on film from last week. Air Force will be seeing their first FBS opponent of the season and FAU will be seeing the triple option for the first time this season. If the Falcons can close the gap on some of their weaknesses and avoid exposure, they can score early and try to control the game clock throughout the second half.