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Air Force at Colorado State: Subplots we'll watch

October 27, 2017 Updated: October 27, 2017 at 5:29 pm
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during the first half of a game at Falcon Stadium at the United States Air Force Academy on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

Storylines, trends and keys we'll monitor as Air Force faces Colorado State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Minus-yardage plays

Air Force has made just 22 tackles for loss, resulting in 87 lost yards. By contrast, their opponents have made 43 for 229 yards. The Falcons also have just five sacks allowing 13 sacks. This is a major departure over the past three years, as the Falcons made 249 TFL for 955 yards, while their opponents made 178 for 596. Also, Air Force led opponents 103-31 in sacks in that span. “To truly give ourselves a chance, we need to be on the positive side of those and we are not,” coach Troy Calhoun said. Is this the game those stats start to even out, or is it simply a reflection of a down year for the Falcons’ offensive line and defense?

 Maintaining momentum

There have been 16 times under coach Troy Calhoun that Air Force has followed a loss or string of losses by winning back-to-back games. On 12 occasions, it then tacked on a third straight win. Maybe that’s a product of a run-first offense. Once it starts rolling and timing is improved, the momentum seems easier to recapture week after week. That’s where the Falcons find themselves on Saturday, as they have followed a four-game losing streak with two straight wins. They’ll try to make it 13-4 in these situations. “We kind of got the bad taste out of our mouth from those losses,” quarterback Arion Worthman said. “Hoping we can just keep this train rolling.”

New stadium

Colorado State is 3-0 in the shiny new CSU Stadium, and that place figures to be rocking for the biggest game there to date. The Rams opened with a 58-27 victory over Oregon State on Aug. 26, but in the two months since then have hosted only FCS foe Abilene Christian on Sept. 9 and Nevada in an 8:30 p.m. contest on Oct. 14. A crowd of more than 37,000 is expected as all seats were sold out prior to game week, leaving just standing-room-only spots. In Air Force’s final trip to Hughes Stadium, attendance was announced at 32,546. It will be interesting to see if the new environment and bigger crowd provides a significant advantage for the home team.

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