Air Force Navy Football Roberts TD

Air Force players celebrate running back Brad Roberts left, first half touchdown during an NCAA football game Navy, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

When Air Force departed Baltimore on Saturday night, it left a crumbling Navy program in its wake.

The Midshipmen, who averaged 1.1 yards per play in the Falcons’ 23-3 victory, fired offensive coordinator Ivan Jasper immediately after the game, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Jasper had been the second-longest tenured offensive coordinator in college football at 14 years. That position belongs to Air Force offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen at 12 years.

Navy is 0-2, has been outscored 72-10 in two games this season and has scored a total of 10 points in its past three service academy games, all double-digit losses.

It’s a rough time for coach Ken Niumatalolo’s program.

But the win counts all the same for the Falcons, who had their struggles early offensively but scored 23 points over the final 31:03.

“We’re going to get better,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “We’re going to go forward. Not that I don’t want our guys to be proud, I do. But we’re going to get better. We’re going to get better and better as we go.”

The resistance the Falcons face over the next few weeks might not be much more formidable than they’ve already seen in opening with lopsided wins over Lafayette (an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision member) or struggling Navy.

The opening line for Saturday’s game against Utah State at Falcon Stadium has Air Force as 11-point favorites. The Falcons have outscored the Aggies 66-14 in their past two meetings.

Then comes a visit from Florida Atlantic. The Owls, led by former Florida State coach Willie Taggert, were picked to finish second in their Conference USA division but figure to be clear underdogs in Colorado Springs — where Air Force is 26-4 in nonconference games under Calhoun.

After that is a trip to New Mexico, which Air Force has blasted by 20-plus points in three straight meetings.

The schedule immediately turns rugged after that, with games against Wyoming, Boise State, San Diego State, Army, Colorado State and Nevada in succession. So, Air Force will have its challenges. But as the team breaks in an entirely new offensive line and allows Haaziq Daniels time to settle in at quarterback, it will be playing as decided favorites through the first five games.

“We’re a new team, new o-line obviously,” said 6-foot-4, 330-pound left guard Hawk Wimmer, a first-time starter as a senior. “There’s going to be some growing pains a little bit.”

Defensively, the team seems to be in top form already. And more help is on the way. Sophomore strong safety Trey Taylor (illness) is expected to be available for the first time this season against Utah State. Taylor was working with the starting unit in spring of his freshman year. He missed the 2020 season while on turnback. So he remains a sophomore but is a veteran within the program.

While Navy is scrambling to pick up the pieces, the big picture for September couldn’t look much brighter for Air Force.

“We’ve just got to look at the next week,” Wimmer said. “Playing the Aggies, Utah State. We’ve got to lock in, keep every team in our mind.”

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