Tim McVey kept using the word “weird” to describe Air Force’s loss to San Diego State.
And he’s right. It was weird. A monsoon descended on Falcon Stadium, chasing virtually everyone from the stadium. During the game’s final 2 1/2 quarters, the teams battled in front of 150 hardy fans, and that might be a generous count.
Those fans watched what Air Force can almost do. For the second week in a row, the Falcons tangled nobly with a national power, but fell short. No one should shout at Air Force for failing to topple Michigan and San Diego State.
But it’s time for Air Force to start showing what it actually can do. The Falcons boast the toughness on defense and the potential on offense to topple all the teams remaining on their schedule.
They can soar, if they can break loose from their “weird” offense.
McVey, one of the most dangerous runners in program history, had his first carry with 11:27 left in the game. He spent three quarters as a virtual spectator, watching fullback Parker Wilson pound the ball up the middle and, mostly, watching quarterback Arion Worthman run into a crowd of Aztecs.
In the final quarter, McVey nearly carried the Falcons to an upset. He vaulted into the end zone, with the help of a superlative block by Tyler Williams, to give Air Force a three-point lead with 6:16 left.
Air Force came achingly close to a program-lifting victory, but the close part of it can be seen in two ways. It can be inspiring, if it teaches the right lesson. Or it can be frustrating, and deflating, if the Falcons remain stuck in a too-predictable offense.
Worthman is a special talent. He’s rugged, elusive and swift.
He must add generosity to his mix. He must start pitching the ball. He believes too much in his ability to pierce defenses. He has to learn to share.
Over the past two losses, Worthman has carried the ball 52 times, or nearly triple the number of McVey’s carries. Given a chance, McVey can multiply Worthman’s power, but he’s not being given a chance.
I understand Saturday’s deluge hampered Worthman’s ability to pitch the ball. I also understand it was sunny in Michigan. The offense’s troubles are about much more than weather.
Coach Troy Calhoun did not run from the problem of McVey’s pitifully low number of carries.
“It helps when he’s more involved,” Calhoun said, adding that he will “explore” ways to place the ball in McVey’s hands more often.
It’s not just McVey. The Falcons must also develop a semblance of a passing attack. Worthman completed one pass, for 2 yards. On the final drive, with Air Force in sight of victory, Worthman’s arm failed to deliver.
Worthman rescued the 2016 season. He’s still learning Calhoun’s intricate offense. He’s still building what McVey calls “a pitch relationship” with Air Force’s array of runners. Worthman has often been sensational as a solo show, but defenses have started to figure him out.
They expect him to call his own number, and they pounce on him.
The season remains young, and no team on the rest of the Falcons’ schedule is as mighty as Michigan or San Diego State.
If the offense can find itself and embrace diversity, this team can still roar.