Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

2012 OUTLOOK: Air Force has been to a bowl game in all five of Troy Calhoun's seasons as head coach, but making it six for six will be a challenge. The Falcons have just six starters returning, although some of the new starters got good experience in backup roles last season. The defense needs to improve, and perhaps a new coordinator, Charlton Warren, will help bring back the ball-hawking style that Air Force was known for in the first few years of Calhoun's tenure. Offensively the Falcons will be able to run the ball ? they always are productive in that area -- but finding the right mix of personnel will be key before the season starts. Another bowl game with a young team should be considered a successful year.

The offense will look a lot different without quarterback Tim Jefferson, a four-year starter who developed into one of the best passing quarterbacks in recent service academy history. The Falcons' offense might not be as balanced with new starter Connor Dietz, but it might be tough to stop. Dietz is a better runner than Jefferson, and the Falcons have showed that even with personnel losses, their system will produce a ton of rushing yards.

Air Force didn't play well enough on defense last year, and then lost eight starters. Every position group took a major hit to graduation, which has to be worrisome for Falcons fans. The defensive line is young, although there is some talent there. There are a couple of good outside linebackers, Alex Means and Jamil Cooks, but both inside linebackers are new. In the secondary there are a lot of question marks after losing cornerback Anthony Wright and safety Jon Davis, two outstanding players. The hope is some scheme changes with a new coordinator will make the Falcons a more opportunistic defense.

Kicker Parker Herrington is coming off a fantastic season -- that is one of the few positions the coaches don't need to worry about. Incumbent punter David Baska will be pushed for his job, and the Falcons need a new batch of kickoff and punt returners.


OLB Reggie Barnes -- Barnes was a recruiting coup for the Falcons. He is a great athlete who can rush the quarterback off the edge, but also has the talent to play receiver if asked.

QBs Jaleel Awini and Dano Graves -- Both quarterbacks split time at Air Force's prep school last year, and come to the academy with a lot of hype. Both players will have a chance to move up the depth chart during the season and position themselves to have a good shot at starting in 2013.

OLB Glynn Cheeks -- Cheeks is a natural pass rusher, and should fit the Falcons' defense well. He played defensive end in high school but should easily make the transition to Air Force's 3-4 scheme.


--RB Darius Jones (foot) might not play football at Air Force again. His injury, suffered last season, has been slow to heal. He would have provided depth at the tailback position.

--WR Drew Coleman (shoulder) missed all of spring practice, but is healing well and should be healthy for training camp. He should play a lot in a reserve role.

--RB Anthony LaCoste (knee) missed spring practice, but should be in the mix for playing time once he returns for training camp.

--RB Cody Getz (knee) didn't participate in spring practice. When he is healthy, he should be a change-of-pace option at tailback for the Falcons.


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