Coming off back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since Troy Calhoun took over as head coach at Air Force, the Falcons look to the 2009 season as the year that they actually win a bowl game under Calhoun. The team ranked first in the conference in rushing offense and was fifth in total defense. This year the team should be even more productive as some of their young guys are more experienced and have an extra year under their belts.
Last season Tim Jefferson, a freshman at the time, played extremely well at quarterback. He threw for 655 yards, adding another 387 on the ground with a total of eight touchdowns. Although Jefferson has shown tremendous upside and talent, running back, Asher Clark will be competing for the starting quarterback position. He led the team in rushing last year with 588 yards and five touchdowns. He might not be the passer that Jefferson is, but he knows how to get it done on the ground. Regardless if Clark is under center, he will be touching the ball many times this season.
Right now, Clark will be the starting running back for the Falcons. If Clark is at quarterback look for Jared Tew and Savier Stephens to get a bulk of the carries out of the backfield. Tew is more of a fullback, but is a solid north-south runner who averaged 6.6 yards per carry last year and four scores. Stephens has excellent hands and quickness and will look to get in the open field to use his speed. The line did a great job last year and look for even a better year with all of the experience that is returning. Nick Charles will be leading a group that ranked first in the nation in sacks allowed, giving up an outstanding .38 sacks per game.
The receiver position also returns some veteran players. Kyle Halderman led the team in receiving last year with 266 yards and three touchdowns. Halderman also ran for 350 yards and will be a threat both on the ground and through the air. Look to Josh Cousins and Kevin Fogler to be more of the true receivers. Cousins led the team in catches with 16 and also found the end zone twice. Fogler is the biggest receiver out of the bunch, averaged 19.5 yards per catch last season and should be the true number one receiving target as long as he stays healthy.
The defense must prove that last year was no fluke. The averaged over 2.5 sacks per game and allowed fewer than 200 yards passing per game. Myles Morales and Rick Ricketts will have their hands full on trying to fill in for Jake Paulsen and Ryan Kemp. Morales and Ricketts are both veterans, but have only seen time mostly as back ups. It will be important to be productive in their newly earned starting roles.
The linebacking unit might be the best group on the defense. Ken Lamendola led the team with 118 tackles last season and three sacks. Andre Morris is fundamentally sound and intelligent, but only tallied 33 tackles last season. He needs to develop into more of a playmaker on the outside.
Chris Thomas returns as the leader of the secondary. He recorded 107 tackles last season, four sacks, and four fumble recoveries, Thomas has a knack for being around the ball and will punish any receiver or running back who gets in his way. Reggie Rembert might be one of the best natural athletes on the Falcons. Rembert had three picks, two sacks and 66 tackles last season and averaged 12.8 yards per carry last year as a punt returner. There is a possibility we will be seeing him used as an offensive weapon too this season.Prediction: 7-5