Nevada vs. Air Force: Three Keys to a Falcons Win
The Air Force Falcons host the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for in this Mountain West football clash.
Air Force meets Air Raid once again.
WEEK 5: Nevada Wolf Pack (2-2) vs. Air Force Falcons (1-2, 0-1 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, September 29 — 2:00 PM MT/1:00 PM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, Colorado (46,692)
RADIO: The Air Force broadcast can be found in and around Colorado Springs on KVOR 740 AM. It can also be found in Denver on 104.3 FM and on satellite radio at XM channel 385.
SERIES RECORD: The Falcons lead the series 3-1. In the last meeting on October 20, 2017, Air Force defeated the Wolf Pack 45-42 in Reno.
The Air Force Falcons had a tough time slowing down the Utah State offense last Saturday, and it won’t get any easier as they return home to host the Nevada Wolf Pack. Despite a couple of key injuries and some erratic play, Nevada has nonetheless averaged over 40 points per game so far this season. They’ve also managed a pass play of 20 or more yards on one of every seven attempts (22-of-154), which would seem to be bad news for a reeling Falcons defense.
Air Force gave itself a chance, though, by controlling the clock and winning the turnover battle. Could they do it again and snap their two-game slide? Here’s what Air Force can do to topple Nevada.
Three Keys to an Air Force Win
Slow down McLane Mannix and Kaleb Fossum.
Despite the fact that the Nevada defense simply could not stop Toledo from moving the ball last Saturday, the big number that should worry Air Force is 13. That’s how many chunk plays — seven runs of 15-plus yards, six passes of 20-plus yards — the Wolf Pack earned against the Rockets, and the dynamic duo of Mannix and Fossum could easily do the same to a shaky Falcons secondary.
The sophomore Mannix, unsurprisingly, leads the team in targets and yards per catch (18.8 YPC!), but Fossum quietly put together a very good September, ranking fifth among Mountain West receivers with 27 catches with a strong 13 YPC to boot. Dailen Sutton and Zane Lewis will have their work cut out for themselves containing these two.
Chew up the Nevada defensive front.
Last year’s matchup with Nevada relied a lot upon staying efficient to keep the powerful Wolf Pack offense off the field: If you’re not sure where to look in the above link, take note of Air Force’s 58% Success Rate (50% of necessary yardage on 1st down, 70% on 2nd down, 100% on 3rd and 4th).
So far in 2018, Air Force’s Success Rate is just 40.2% and ranks 96th in the country, though they did have an uptick (43%) against the Aggies last Saturday. Giving more work to Kadin Remsburg, who ascended to the top of the depth chart at tailback last week and responded with 94 yards on 17 carries, might be the answer to turning the trick once again.
Hit the home run pass.
The depth chart still lists Isaiah Sanders and Arion Worthman with the ubiquitous “OR” at the quarterback position, but regardless of who ends up with more playing time, now would be a very good time to rediscover the big play through the air: In 2017, the Falcons had a pass play of 20 or more yards on 17.4% of attempts (25-of-143). In 2018, that figure has dropped to 11.9% (5-of-42).
Against their FBS opponents, Nevada has allowed a 65.2% completion rate and an overall passer rating of 157.62, as well as 15 plays of 20-plus yards. Assuming the Falcons choose their spots wisely, this could end up being a big game for Marcus Bennett, who has averaged 23.3 yards on his eight catches this season.