Can Troy Calhoun stay undefeated vs. the FCS?
Tune up or upset alert?
Air Force begins their 2019 campaign the same as every year it seems, by warming up with an FCS opponent. Even in some of their less memorable seasons, this regular season tune-up has not proven to be much of a hazard for the Falcons.
What about Colgate?
Head Coach: Dan Hunt
Patriot League (FCS)
Offensive Philosophy: Multiple
Defensive Philosophy: 3-4
Location: Hamilton, New York
2018 Record: 10-2
This year’s variety of the obligatory FCS opener comes by way of the Colgate Raiders. The defending Patriot League Champions are coming off of an exceptional 2018 season. They finished the regular season with only one loss, and that came at the hands of Army. A loss the Falcons can empathize with.
After capturing the Patriot League Conference Championship, the Raiders marched into the FCS Playoffs. In their playoff run, Colgate defeated former FCS National Champs, James Madison before meeting the same reckoning nearly every team encounters at the FCS level; a decisive loss to the eventual National Champions, North Dakota State Bison.
In the course of putting together such a solid season, Colgate finished the year with the number one ranked overall defense in FCS. The offense wasn’t without recognition either though. The Raiders furnished with both the offensive and defensive players of the year in the Patriot League. They also accounted for 10 all conference players.
What to Expect
Air Force will be facing a very different looking team traveling all the way from New York to Falcon Stadium to kickoff the season. Colgate does not have a planned uniform change, but they do have an overhauled roster as they graduate 25 seniors from last year’s squad.
Of the players that the Raiders do return for 2019, an all conference standout at quarterback is one of them. Grant Breneman operated the offense last year for Colgate, and put together a solid season. Considered a dual threat, he can put pressure on the defense with both his arm and his legs.
Defensively the Raiders will have a lot of turnover also. Duplicating last year’s success is a tall order for the current team, just as stopping the Air Force offense will be a very big ask. They do have the experience and game film from their match-up against Army last year to work from though.
Preparing for a triple-option offense is typically a significant deviation from a teams conventional planning. In a game that saw a total of less than 100 yards passing between them, the Colgate acquitted themselves very well against Army. Even in surrendering 260 yards on the ground, that was still less than the Black Knights averaged per game by 50. When the last second ticked off the clock, Colgate lost to a good Army team by a respectable score of 28-14.
While last years performance against Army may seem encouraging as it relates to their impending clash with the Falcons, I would be surprised if the Raiders got out of Colorado Springs without surrendering 35 points or more. And in doing so I would expect the Cadets at altitude to have a margin of victory to be in excess of the 14 that their fellow Academy enjoyed last season.
This isn’t necessarily an indictment on the type of team that Colgate can be where it matters most, in FCS competition. The reality is, they are replacing a lot of talent. They are moving up in weight-class. Troy Calhoun has never lost to an FCS school. And most notably, they are going to play a pretty darn good Air Force team.
The last time these two teams met was in 2013, and Air force won that game 38-12. That season saw Air Force start twice as many quartback’s as they had wins. Kale Pearson, Jaleel Awini, Karson Roberts and Nate Romine all got starts that year. You do the math.
Air Force 42 – Colgate 17