Well, that was fun.
I won’t lie, I expected the Falcons’ uniforms to be the highlight of the afternoon. The team hadn’t seen any live action. The depth chart was a bit light on defensive experience. Navy had gutted out an incredible comeback win just weeks before. Everything stacked up to justify Air Force as a home underdog.
And everything was completely wrong.
The Falcons rampaged their way to a 40-7 rout over the Midshipmen, carried by a 21-point scoring explosion in the fourth quarter.
Now, the afternoon wasn’t completely perfect for Air Force, but it was pretty darn close. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and a peek at what it means for the weeks to come.
First and foremost, the uniforms were incredible. We’ve already gushed once or twice about the awesome Air Power Legacy Series uniforms, so we won’t go too much in detail. You already know that this year’s iteration honors the Tuskegee Airmen, better known as the Red Tails.
The uniforms themselves pay tribute to the P-51 Mustangs of the 332nd Fighter Group, and the win over Navy moves Air Force to 10-0 all-time in their APLS uniforms.
Other than a few early red zone sputters, the Air Force offense got up to game speed with incredible quickness. A glance at the box score reveals two rushers over 100 yards in fullback Timothy Jackson and running back Brad Roberts. By the time the clock hit triple-zeroes, the Falcons had rumbled their way to 369 yards rushing.
Quarterback Haaziq Daniels had an impressive first game as well, amassing 96 yards on the ground and completing 4-of-9 passes for 41 yards through the air. Senior wide receiver Daniel Morris and sophomore tight end Kyle Patterson were on the receiving end of the completions on the day.
99% of the Defense
Any day where you can hold a triple option offense to under 100 yards on the ground is a good day. Air Force did just that against Navy, limiting the Mids to just 90 yards rushing and a mere 25 yards from leading rusher Nelson Smith.
Navy did manage 151 yards through the air, though 73 of them came on a single touchdown pass to Myles Fells. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, the Falcons proved to be a force in the Navy backfield, as seen in the clip above.
In total, Air Force managed 59 tackles led by George Silvanic and Alec Mock with seven each. The Falcons also won the turnover battle, gathering an interception and a fumble recovery on the day.
The Special Teams
Out of all three phases of the game, Air Force’s special teams may have had the best day of all. Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl nailed all seven of his kicks — four field goals and three extra points. Even Anth Rodriguez got in on the action, knocking in one extra point. Punter Joseph Carlson was only called into action three times on the day, which is always a good sign too. He recorded a long punt of 48 yards.
That one passing play
You already know which play we mean — the 73 yard touchdown from Tyger Goslin to Fells. That single pass play was the only real failure from a stout Falcons defense on the afternoon, but it bears mentioning. Fells shredded the entire Falcon secondary en route to Navy’s only points of the game, though Air Force seemed to clean up its coverage after the fact.
That’s... That’s pretty much it for the bad news. Seriously, the Falcons looked dominant in pretty much all parts of the game.
The Falcons now have a few weeks off to prepare for their Mountain West opening clash against San Jose State. Air Force will travel to San Jose on Oct. 24 to take on the Spartans and their senior double-transfer quarterback Nick Starkel, who’s previous stops include Arkansas and Texas A&M.
After a remarkable performance against Navy, Air Force should have plenty of time to shore up a few flaws and they should be a road favorite against San Jose State. The Spartans squad went 5-7 in 2019 and finds itself travelling 320 miles to Humboldt State to practice due to Santa Clara County’s current COVID-19 restrictions.
More importantly, the Falcons are firmly in control of their own destiny when it comes to the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy with a showdown against Army looming on Nov. 7.