Air Force is a third of the way through its regular season.
We’ll start finding out how good the Falcons are next week.
Yes, Air Force is 3-1. But its victories have come against a dreadful Division I-AA squad, the worst Mountain West Conference team I’ve seen in four years of covering the league (New Mexico) and a typically poor group from San Diego State. The one game Air Force has played against a legitimate opponent, in week two at Minnesota, it fumbled away.
So starting in Annapolis, against a Navy program that has owned the Falcons of late, we’ll begin to see what this Air Force team is made of. And we’ll know for sure by the end of an October slate that also includes a home game against TCU and road games at Utah and Colorado State.
I’m sure I’ll get some e-mails and comments on the blog about the offensive game plan. And, yes, it was the Sarah Palin of game plans. About as conservative as they come.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun acknowledged this, saying that once the Falcons got the lead, they were going to “grind away” at the Aztecs with fullback Jared Tew. It was a conscious decision, in part because the Falcons had a new quarterback, and in part because Calhoun knew he could win with not much offense and good, solid defense.
He likened it to last season’s 16-7 victory at Army.
But he admitted the Falcons won’t be able to play that close to the vest in their remaining eight games.
“In the long-haul you can’t play that way,” he said. “You cannot win week in and week out and play that way. And yet today, we were able to.”
I wrote a sidebar for tomorrow’s paper on junior Reggie Rembert, who had an outstanding game—two interceptions, one forced fumble and another fumble he returned 47 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
Calhoun said Rembert has benefited from not having as many responsibilities this season. Remember last year he was used a bit on offense at Z receiver.
“I think one of the things you’ve got to be really, really aware of when you work at the academy is not to stretch guys too much,” he said. “We weren’t fair to him. That starts here. We weren’t fair to him last year. We had him doing far too many things. We had a guy we were trying to make a jack of all trades and never really be good at something.”
San Diego State’s lone points before garbage time came from the safety that resulted when deep snapper Colton Reid snapped the ball over punter Brandon Geyer’s head in the second quarter.
“The snap over the punter’s head, that’s inexcusable,” Calhoun said. “You have one job as a deep snapper, and it’s not unreasonable. You’ve got 18 inches by 18 inches, and you’ve got to be able to hit that square every time. And we did not do that.”
It’s easy to see why coaches are excited about freshman outside linebacker Alex Means. He showed pretty impressive explosion in drilling Aztecs quarterback Ryan Lindley early in the second quarter for his first career sack.
Means blitzed almost directly into Lindley, who was carrying out a bootleg fake toward Lindley. What I liked was how instead of hesitating and giving Lindley a chance to get rid of it, he accelerated through Lindley’s chest.
And on the very next play, Means separated from a block, jumped into the air and batted down a Lindley throw. He later applied pressure to Lindley in the third quarter, forcing a bad throw that Anthony Wright Jr. returned 47 yards for a score.
“He had a lot of chance to make plays,” Calhoun said. “And there are times where you’ve got a chance to make plays, but whether or not you can make them is a different story. He did it.”
Tew wasn’t really happy with his performance.
“I couldn’t really get anything going in there,” he said. “I don’t think I had the best game, but we came out with the win, so I can’t really complain.”
Tew might not have broken as many tackles as he would have liked, but he carried a heavy load and showed he can be a work horse and survive tons of contact. It was a gutty performance.
Not much more to say. It’s Navy week.