The Air Force Falcons come into the 2019 season looking for consistency and a return to their winning ways. Coming off back-to-back losing seasons, there is a sense of optimism surrounding the program that they are in position to do just that, and that one of the main reasons for that resurgence will be because of a veteran defense with a number of senior leaders.
We have looked at the offense and special teams so far in our preseason position breakdowns, and it’s time to turn our attention to the other side of the ball as we start our defensive previews with the big guys up front anchoring the line.
A talented group with upperclass leadership up front, but a lack of depth and experience behind them, will provide opportunities for new stars to emerge and perhaps even some younger players who haven’t even seen their names on the roster yet.
Jordan Jackson, DE
Anchoring one of the end spots on the Air Force defense will be 2018 Second-Team All MWC selection Jordan Jackson, who turned in one of the best seasons by a Falcons defensive lineman in recent memory in 2018.
Any optimism for what the defense can do up front has to start with Jackson, who is coming off a sensational campaign in which he was fourth on the team in tackles with 54 and led the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He also recorded a safety on the year. His best game of the season saw him record 3.5 tackles for loss against Navy.
Jackson, who is still only a junior, will look to build off of that impressive sophomore campaign as he takes on more of a leadership role along the line and serves as the catalyst for getting pressure in the backfield.
The preseason All-Conference selection’s ability to continue to develop and become even more of a nuisance up front will go along way in the progress of an Air Force defense that was 43rd in the country last year in yards per game.
Another bright spot returning on the defensive line for the Falcons is senior Mosese Fifita, one of the bigger lineman in recent memory, checking in at 312 pounds and starting for the second straight year at the nose guard position.
Fifita is coming off a solid 2018 campaign in which he recorded 25 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He will look to continue to build on that 2018 season as he gets one last shot at helping the Falcons take their defense to the next level.
After Jackson and Fifita, the rest of the defensive line is lacking in any real game experience. Occupying the third starting spot opposite Jackson is Jared Blair, a senior from Troy, Ohio who has not seen any game action yet in his career. He is backed up by Kaleb Nunez, a junior from Midland, Texas who has recorded the only statistic of the backups with one assisted tackle against Stony Brook.
Backing up Jackson is Michael Purcell, a junior from The Woodlands, Texas, who saw action in two games last season. At the backup nose guard spot is Joey Woodring, who also got into two games last year but did not record a stat.
Beyond that, we know just how close to the vest Calhoun keeps his cards. Unless a freshman is on the actual two-deep, they won’t crack the roster for the season, so trying to figure out who else might see the field can be difficult.
However, there were two defensive lineman recruits who made quite a splash this cycle. Twin brothers, Demetris and Desmond Dorceus, who are the sons of Haitian immigrants, are both highly rated three star recruits out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. They both received Power Five offers, to schools such as NC State, Wake Forest, and Kansas, among others, and will come in looking to make an immediate impact.
To be honest, I’m not sure if these two guys are enrolling in the prep school this year or if they are direct entries. Once again, the official freshman class has not been released, but if they are on campus this year, they enter with a legitimate shot at possibly finding some playing time early.
Regardless, the Falcons will be looking for depth on the line, but if they can find someone to consistently man the other end spot opposite Jackson and next to Fifita, they could provide a formidable front for opposing offenses all year long!