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Air Force football game 1 tidbits

September 2, 2017 Updated: September 2, 2017 at 6:26 pm
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photo - US Air Force Academy defensive back Brett Baldwin, center, and the rest of the team get ready to enter Falcon Stadium before the start of their game against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets on Saturday September 2, 2017 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Falcons won the game 62-0. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
US Air Force Academy defensive back Brett Baldwin, center, and the rest of the team get ready to enter Falcon Stadium before the start of their game against the Virginia Military Institute Keydets on Saturday September 2, 2017 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Falcons won the game 62-0. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette). 

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tim McVey, Air Force running back

McVey ran 10 times for 98 yards and caught three passes for 77 yards, leading Air Force in each category. His long catch was for 57 yards. His long run covered 27. He also lined up as a kickoff returner, prompting VMI to boot the opening kick out of bounds and giving the Falcons good field position for an opening scoring drive.

TURNING POINT

After throwing incomplete to Geraud Sanders on a deep pass on the game's first play, Air Force quarterback Arion Worthman ran for 14 yards on the second play. That set a standard that never changed. The Falcons ran for 12.2 yards per attempt on that first scoring drive and 6.8 on 67 attempts in the game.

SUBPLOTS WE WATCHED

This could be the one and only chance

It's no given that Air Force will blow out its FCS opponent in the opener in the way that allows the bench to empty. It didn't happen against Abilene Christian last year, and as a result only two tailbacks logged carries the entire season. Well, four tailbacks ran Saturday. So did five fullbacks. Many took full advantage of this cameo. Nolan Eriksen, a sophomore tailback, went for 42 yards on five carries with a touchdown. Jake LaCoste, a Z-receiver, had a 19-yard run. Defensive back Christian Musselman intercepted a pass. The opportunity was there, and many capitalized.

Run, run, run. Right?

As has been the case in several other openers, Air Force put up huge rushing numbers (457 yards) but didn't entirely abandon the passing attack. Worthman's 172 passing yards were the third most in a career that has spanned six starts. He tossed a pair of touchdowns. Nate Romine, who played most of the third quarter, attempted and completed a pair of passes. The Falcons finished 10-of-14 passing as a team for 190 yards. They also gave up a pair of sacks, which will provide valuable film when it comes to correcting mistakes in advance of the next game at Michigan.

Transition to new style for the defense

Air Force spends a good chunk of its practice reps facing a triple-option offense, but that obviously wasn't a factor as it played a more traditional look against VMI. Linebacker Jack Flor led the group with eight tackles. The team made seven stops behind the line, including a 16-yard sack for Santo Coppola. VMI went 10-for-19 passing for 40 yards. It ran 28 times for 55 yards. The Falcons' defense, which lost 12 of its top 13 tacklers, had no issues in any aspect Saturday.

BY THE NUMBERS

2

Freshmen - defensive end Jordan Jackson and outside linebacker Lakota Wills - who saw action. Wills had two tackles, Jackson deflected a pass.

6

First downs for VMI, two of which came via Air Force penalties. The Falcons had 32 first downs.

41.5

Average on two punts for Charlie Scott, the brother of Alabama punter JK Scott, who made his starting debut for Air Force.

37,286

Announced attendance, which was more than 3,000 more than last year's season opener for Air Force.

BRENT BRIGGEMAN, THE GAZETTE

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