I’ll admit it. I have the distinct advantage of writing my thoughts on the looming Air Force/ N**y game after one of my fellow AAE writers discussed why he thinks the goats will win. It would be unfair to just poke holes in every argument, so I would never say that a side by side comparison is a laughable considering that their schedules have been apples in oranges so far, without even mentioning the fact that the Ken Niumatalolo’s team has only played three games to Air Force’s four.
The Biggest Threat
Having watched both the ECU and Memphis games against the team from Annapolis, I have been able to identify the biggest threat to the Falcons in Saturday’s game. That threat is themselves. I’m not even saying this in jest. Navy is not a team that should be able to hang with Air Force this season.
Against Memphis, which is the only game that really gave us a good look at Navy, Malcolm Perry completed 6 of 10 passes. He averaged a mere 3.6 yards per run on 25 keepers and that’s with a 27 yard to throw off the mean average. I think he can be a dangerous player, and he showed that well against the underwhelming ECU team a few weeks ago.
Malcolm Perry’s smaller stature at 5’9” and 190 pounds will make for a long day with the likes of Lakota Wills and Jordan Jackson flying into the backfield, especially after seeing how they tormented Colorado’s Steven Montez who has a staggering 8 inches of height and 40 pounds on the Midshipman quarterback.
The areas I’m the most concerned with for Air Force is turnovers and blocked field goals. Air Force has had three blocked extra point attempts this season and one outright miss. However, if they can get ahead far enough, it wouldn’t be much of a concern. Scoring cures all.
Turnovers, on the other hand, are a killer. I think any Air Force fan, or fan of the other two service academy teams, would agree that turnovers are what often lead to deciding the winner of these CiC games. Last year was a rare anomaly in that there were no turnovers. This season, Air Force has had a few unforced turnovers. These need to be completely taken off the table in order to give Air Force the best look at winning.
Is Air Force in for a surprise?
I’m really having a hard time finding a reason that Air Force should be nervous for Navy. Virtually every player that Navy touts as being a threat for opposing teams doesn’t seem like a big deal for the Falcons.
Navy’s star linebacker, Diego Fagot, leads the defense with 17 total tackles and 1 sack. Just last week, Air Force beat San Jose State 41-24, a team whose top linebacker, Ethan Aguayo, averages 14.5 tackles per game. While Aguayo played well against Air Force, he was overwhelmed by the dizzying rotation of Kade Remsberg, Taven Birdow, Christian Mallard, Timothy Jackson, and Josh Stoner running the ball.
You can name any position on Navy’s team and Air Force has already taken on and fared well against a matchup that is much tougher so far this season. So considering that Air Force’s lone loss came in a 30-19 foot shot to Boise State that came with mistakes in conjunction with a DJ Hammond injury, this game should be a simple win, right?
Not so fast.
I really can’t ignore the history of this game. As any Navy fan would say going into this game, like it’s a knowledge point from their Reef Points plebe handbook, home field advantage has played a major role in the Air Force/ Navy matchup. The home team has won the game every year since 2012. I’ve said, since the inception of Against All Enemies, that everything truly goes out the window when it comes to CiC games. Matchups don’t seem to matter. Even in a 2019 game that I should feel the utmost confidence in guaranteeing a win, for some reason, I don’t.
With the 57.5% FPI prediction in Air Force’s favor and a -3.5 point spread, this game is truly a pick ‘em. At the end, Air Force fans will have one of two thoughts. Either Air Force wins and we will all wonder what the hesitation was in making such a strong prediction, or the Annapolis team will win and it will feel like they stole a game from a better Falcon team. Either way, Saturday’s game will likely prove to be the best group of five game on TV and a great way to kick off the CiC race.