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.
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
Freshmen - defensive end Jordan Jackson and outside linebacker Lakota Wills - who saw action. Wills had two tackles, Jackson deflected a pass.
First downs for VMI, two of which came via Air Force penalties. The Falcons had 32 first downs.
Average on two punts for Charlie Scott, the brother of Alabama punter JK Scott, who made his starting debut for Air Force.
Announced attendance, which was more than 3,000 more than last year's season opener for Air Force.
BRENT BRIGGEMAN, THE GAZETTE