Note: For 11 straight days, I’ll post a brief team preview for each school in the Mountain West (except Boise State). I’m going in reverse order of predicted finish. I started with the West Division. Now it’s the Mountain Division’s turn.
AIR FORCE FALCONS
Coach: Troy Calhoun
Record: 49-41 (seven seasons)
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Last year: 2-10 overall, 0-8 MW
Last bowl: 2012 Armed Forces (L, 33-14 to Rice)
Returning starters: 7/8/1 (offense/defense/specialists)
Story line: The Falcons endured an embarrassing season last year. They’ll have more experience this season and they’ve got a quarterback battle between two players with previous starts. Still, it will be difficult to reverse the three-year slide for the once-consistent program. Junior linebacker Connor Healy noticed a change in attitude immediately after last season. “Last year wasn’t indicative of what our program is and the essence of Air Force football,” he said. Senior offensive lineman Michael Husar said a series of little things, including injuries, turnovers and critical dropped passes, caused the season to spiral. “We could have easily snapped out of it and we just didn’t,” he said. “But we’re not going to let that happen again. The juniors and seniors, we’re taking charge and making sure it doesn’t happen and we’re going to a bowl game this year.”
Star player: The Falcons will need a big year out of whoever wins the quarterback job. Nate Romine produced just 808 yards of total offense in nine games (five starts) last season. He’s running behind Kale Pearson in fall camp. Pearson tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the opener last year.
Quotable: “It makes a huge difference when you have the fly-bys. We weren’t able to have them last year because of the Congressional budget cuts. That makes it a pretty awesome experience.” — Calhoun, on what to expect from the game day experience at Air Force
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