Three areas we’ll be watching as Air Force faces Boise State at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.
Subplots we’ll watch
Sack artist a threat if Air Force throws or not
Curtis Weaver, the preseason conference Defensive Player of the Year, already has six sacks for Boise State. So, how does that translate against a team like Air Force that rarely throws? Coach Troy Calhoun pointed out what Nevada’s Malik Miller (now with the Denver Broncos) did against the Falcons last year, making three tackles for loss and factoring into a slow start for Air Force that left it trailing 21-7 at halftime in a 28-25 loss. “I think you always have to be aware of a really very skilled and explosive pass rusher,” Calhoun said. “He is fast. He is athletic. He can turn an edge. He can use his hands well. He has a knack for knowing exactly where the quarterback is.”
Can Air Force produce a clean game?
The baffling thing about Air Force’s three turnovers at Colorado was that none seemed forced.
The contact on the tackles of fullback Taven Birdow and Kade Remsberg wasn’t particularly fierce when they lost the ball, and an interception in the end zone resulted from a pass from Donald Hammond III being delivered from close range to Birdow with too much velocity. So, now what happens against a more athletic defense that might be able to force the issue more than the Buffaloes did?
Although, keep in mind Boise State hasn’t been particularly clean with the ball, either, fumbling nine times (losing three) and throwing three interceptions in three games.
Can Air Force produce big plays?
In its three-game winning streak over Boise State from 2014-16, Air Force had 13 plays that went for 20 or more yards – including six that went for 40-plus. In the two losses that have followed, only one play broke for 40 or more. Those big plays were made possible by a rushing attack that averaged 310 yards in the three wins, but has sagged to 191 over the past two years.
Establishing the run is a given when it comes to needs for Air Force, but in this series in particular it seems the Falcons benefit from taking big shots on occasion when the running game begins to consume the full attention of the defense.