If you’ve had a chance to take a look Gavin Jernigan or Kaylah Jackson’s breakdown of Army and Navy’s offensive lines, I really couldn’t state the importance of a powerful, yet quick front five any better. They are truly the basis for an effective triple option, giving the backfield enough time to allow the play to develop.
The Falcon O-line has been highly successful. As an indirect measure of success we can look at how the running game did last season. The offense ranked first in the Mountain West and fifth in the country in rushing with an average of 283.7 yards per game and ninth nationally in red zone scoring, with 91.3% of red zones drives resulting in points. They also led the way for 33 rushing touchdowns and 62% fourth down conversion efficiency.
Though the cliche is that linemen in a triple option offense are undersized, Air Force really does have a wrecking crew protecting their backs. Weights are not listed by team due to Area 51 levels of secrecy from Coach Calhoun, but all of the starting players’ heights are listed at over 6’1”. All of the starting five are returning players who saw playing time during the entire season in 2018, and all of the second string players are returning to the team with the exception of a backup for the right tackle.
Let’s have a look at the starting line:
Parker Ferguson - LT
Parker hails from Greenwood, Indiana. It’s a mere five hours from the football famous Youngstown, Ohio, which is home to great football minds like Bo Pelini, Jim Tressel, and Bob Stoops. Parker Ferguson must have grown up down stream from the cradle of gridiron greatness because it shows in his play. He plays left tackle and is listed at 6’5”. Although we cannot be totally sure of his playing weight, he has indicated that he has no problem keeping his size while training in the hot Colorado sun this summer.
When you eat your brudda’s food in the fridge, then later he sees it’s gone so you got to act just as surprised as him pic.twitter.com/0rhZuCIzys— Parker Ferguson (@parkerferg33) June 13, 2019
Nolan Laufenberg - LG
Nolan is a Colorado Springs native going into his junior year. He follows up a sophomore season where he played in all twelve games and started in nine. As another tall player, he is listed at 6’3”, and although he has no problem handling larger defensive lines, it is notable that he has confirmed pollen to be a weakness of his and the Falcon coaching staff should keep an eye out for the activities of opposing schools’ botany departments.
I sneezed watching this https://t.co/lgbKySKA5C— Nolan Laufenberg (@nolanlauf) July 4, 2019
Chris Mitchell - Center
From the Pacific Northwest comes senior Chris Mitchell. He shared time last season but saw action in all twelve games, starting in five. He is an avowed Portland Timbers fan, indicating that he likes to spend his leisure time without the use of his hands, reserving them for the work of a center. In a triple option system, staying fresh is especially important for linemen, and it’s evident that he values his recovery time.
Being able to sleep in past 7 AM is a beautiful thing— Chris Mitchell (@BigC_Mitch) July 28, 2018
Kyle Krepsz - RG
In high school, Kyle Krepsz played as a center in Riverside, California. Last season, he was listed as a backup right guard to Griffin Landrum, but he played in seven games. As a right guard, Kyle has no issue protecting the pit he creates while holding off the defense. He has taken a page from the coaching staff’s book and maintains a low profile on social media, allowing him to focus solely on stepping up this season.
Scott Hattok - RT
As a starter in every game last season, Scott Hatton returns as a junior with a wealth of experience. He came to the academy from Lansing, Kansas, just minutes from Leavenworth, Kansas, so it’s no surprise that he can lock down his opponent and allow the runner to cut inside or work around the corner. Like Krepsz, Hattok avoids sharing his thoughts on Twitter, which is a good thing, since his job is an important one, protecting the quarterbacks who favor rolling out to the right side.
While offensive linemen may not be the flashiest players on the field, they are the key to protecting the backfield from devastating hits and enabling them to put points on the scoreboard. Their experience and cohesion can give coaches and offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen the confidence to take more chances with fourth down conversion attempts and play aggressively as the clock is winding down. They’re some of the toughest guys on the field, going up against players who have anywhere from twenty to forty pounds on them, but we are thankful as fans, because they are a key component to helping the Falcons win back the CiC and have a chance to go bowling.