Preview 2017: Air Force System Stress-Test
With massive turnover, can Air Force survive the lack of experience and keep on winning?
If you want to see the Air Force system stress-tested, here you go.
It’s part of the military school style to build up players in the system to be ready to roll by their junior and senior seasons – with plenty of exceptions, of course.
Sometimes, the timing works out great, and the Falcons are loaded with veterans who come together to crank out something special, like they did the last few seasons.
And then there’s this year’s team that’s going to require a ton of patience and lots of work. However, with this system, and with the way head coach Troy Calhoun puts his teams together, it’s Next Falcon Up, and no excuses if the wins don’t keep on coming.
Ten starters are gone off a defense that finished 33rd in the nation, was fantastic against the run, and despite a few hiccups, managed to help last year’s team get to a ten-win season and a bowl victory.
The offense has to find receivers, needs some more running back help, and has to fill in the gaps on the offensive line, but for the nation’s third-best ground game and eighth-most efficient attack, it’s about the training. Plug the guys in, let it roll.
The blocking scheme has been the same for decades. The option and style of Falcon offense works because it’s all about the precision. The passing attack takes advantage of a few openings a game, and the O grinds, grinds, grinds down the clock. As long as it doesn’t turn the ball over, everything should click.
Over the last few years, the defense has been great at getting into the backfield, the safeties have been dominant, and the outside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme have wreaked havoc. Does experience matter to keep it all going? We’re about to find out.
If you have a program that’s able to be patient, and is able to convince the young players that the time will come after a few seasons of apprenticeship, it can all work no matter who’s taking over.
But again, with so many lost starters, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s the driver or the car. It had better be both, considering how strong the Mountain Division should be, with a better Wyoming, Colorado State, and Boise State to deal with.
It’s nothing Calhoun hasn’t seen before. With bowl appearances in nine out of the last ten years, the Falcons have gone through plenty of changes and came out fine.
If this year’s Air Force team is more than just okay, though, and it turns into a major contender for the Mountain West title, it’ll be time to retire the idea of experience making a difference.
At least in Colorado Springs.