Returning Starters – Offense: 7 Defense: 4
Preview: Last season Air Force rose from the ashes as they went on to post a surprising 10 win season. The Falcons ended the season with a bowl victory over a rising Western Michigan squad and expect Troy Calhoun’s group to replicate some of the success they had on offense last season with 7 returning starters on this side of the ball.
The triple option attack will be led by QB Nate Romine who also has the ability to throw the ball. Air Force might not have an elite backfield to run the ball, but they aren’t lacking in depth which is important for their relentless rushing attack. Air Force is fairly loaded at the receiving position with guys like Jalen Robinette, Garrett Griffin, and Garrett Brown, and it’ll be interesting to see how these guys enter the mix this season.
Air Force had a major turnaround on the defensive end as they cut about 16 points per game allowed from 2013 to 2014. There has been significant turnover on this side of the ball with just 4 starters back from last season. The biggest loss will be from linebacker Jordan Pierce who’s also moved on. Alex Hansen is a guy to look out for at DE, but he’s sure to face constant double-teams. Air Force is lacking for experience and depth at the linebacker position, while the secondary is SS Weston Steelhammer who’s surrounded by unknowns.
Prediction: Air Force opens the season with winnable game through the first two weeks, but then they run through the gauntlet going against Michigan State and Navy on the road. There appears to be enough winnable games for this squad to get back to a bowl game at the very least. With the up and down level of competition betting this team could be tricky to open the season, with possible value if you pick your spots right. The offense has the ability to carry this team to covers if the defense is able to replicate the success they had last season, but this is easier said than done with only 4 starters back.
Projected Record: 8-4 (6-2)