Summer is not "officially" here, but June is summer for me, and to keep things rolling lets preview the non-conference opponents.
This was done last year, and there will be two or three of these per week ending in mid to late August.
The first previews of Air Force's opponent is the Nicholls State Colonels from the FCS (formerly I-AA). The Colonels were nothing special last year with a 3-6 record, from the Southland conference. They did end the season on a higher note though, by winning three of their last five games.
Their 2008 offense was well, to be nice, terrible. The Colonels averaged 25 points per game. Their defense did not help the team by giving up 34 points per game. The passing offense, which was really really bad, averaged only 102.7 yards per game, between two players.
The sad part about the 2009 team is that both quarterbacks were seniors last year and the front runner looks to be either junior Nolan Dumas, or junior college transfer Jose Avina.
Avina came from the College of San Mateo, where he went 7-4 in his Sophomore season, and then spent 2008 using his redshirt so he could have two years of eligibility left for the Colonels. The running game was impressive last year by averaging 208 per game, and if the team could have been in more games, that number could have been quite a bit higher.
The running game will be important to help out either of the new quarterbacks, but the top returning rusher is sophomore Corey Buchanan. The rushing offense was split pretty evenly between the backs and Buchanan had 353 yards, one touchdown, but did average 6.5 yards per play.
Marlin Meeks is the other back who will get carries, and in 2008 he had 241 yards and two scores.
The running game will be the key component for success in their season, and they could have success against Air Force who gave up 139 yards per game in 2008. The best returning talent on the team will be receiver Antonio Robinson who had 502 yards and six scores. He will obviously be the primary target with a new quarterback.
Robinson also is the only wide receiver to be returning who had any receptions, the only other player returning who caught the ball is running back AJ Williams.
This offense will struggle to put up points at all this season, and especially in game one against Air Force. The defense will have a tough time stopping the run option attack by Air Force, but at least it's their first game which means more practice time then a week to prepare.
Nicholls State gave up 171 yards per game on the ground, and going just by pure numbers and comparing them to the FBS division, they would rank 92 out of 120 teams.
The Colonels will have their hands full on defense against the Falcons. Plus, they should be expecting a heavy dose of the run. The Air Force quarterback situation is unstable with Tim Jefferson unsure because of academics and Asher Clark who is converting to quarterback after one year at running back was injured during the offseason.
Their overall defense from 2008 per game was 422 yards, and with most of the team seniors last year 2009 looks to be worse then the Colonels 3-6 record.