September 14, 2019 Colorado vs. Air Force
Can the Falcons Ground the Buffs?
It may seem logical that a healthy rivalry exist between schools that are only separated by 100 miles of highway. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case for the Falcons and Buffaloes, who are about to meet for just the 17th time in their history. The boys from Boulder hold a 12-4 record vs. the Cadets, but the two will meet two of the next three seasons. If Air Force intends to cut into what have been very one-sided results, they have their work cut out for them.
Know the ‘loes
Head Coach: Mel Tucker
Conference: Pac 12
Offensive Philosophy: Spread
Defensive Philosophy: 3-4
Mascot: Ralphie the Buffalo
Location: Boulder, Colorado
2018 Record: 5-7
Both the Buff’s and Falcons are seeking bowl eligibility after consecutive 5-7 seasons which had them watching the post season from home.
The last time these schools met, Richard Nixon had just exited the oval office following the Watergate Scandal, gas was 45 cents per gallon and Ben Martin was still the head football coach in Colorado Springs. Aside from Air Force’s offensive philosophy, a lot has changed since then.
If Air Force wants to knock off the state of Colorado’s Power Five representative school, they are going to have to mitigate the damage done by the Buffaloes key players.
Offensively, this starts with one of the countries most dynamic wide receivers in Laviska Shenault. The Buff’s star wide-out hauled in 86 passes last year for over 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The do-it-all receiver also chipped in another five touchdowns on the ground.
Limiting damage done through the air was not the Falcon defense’s strong suite last season. Trying to keep Shenault in check will prove a tall order for a defense that will most likely still be getting their footing early in the season. With a favorable matchup like this on the outside no matter who they play, expect Colorado quarterback Steven Montez to test the Air Force secondary early and often.
On the Defensive side of the ball, Colorado features a couple playmakers who were recognized on multiple preseason awards list. The most disruptive force to the Falcons will probably come by way of linebacker Nate Landman. Though Mustafa Johnson is a monster for the Buff’s on the defensive line, because of the style of offense that Air Force runs, it will probably leave a lot more opportunities for Landman be noticed.
With over 100 tackles, 15 TFL’s, four sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles, Nate Landman is all over the field. For an offense that thrives on catching the defense out of position and getting linebackers caught in the wash, the Falcons will have to pay close attention to Mr. Landman.
This is the type of player who can wreck a gameplan due to his versatility and knack for finding the ball. I suspect the Falcon ball carriers will be well acquainted with Number 53 when the two collide this fall.
Avoid the Stampede
Regardless of who they play, the Air Force offense is going to be the most critical factor in winning games. Their ability to control the clock as they possess the ball can make up for a lot of challenges that may otherwise expose a vulnerable defense. If the offense finds it’s rhythm, the Falcons can challenge every team on this seasons schedule.
Unfortunately, no matter how good the offense performs, the Air Force defense is going to be facing a talented offense in Boulder. The ask of the Falcon defense may be a bit too much for an early season clash that will feature a very good quarterback and elite receiver play. Particularly in the secondary. I believe the defense will be much improved in 2019, but the timing of this game is not ideal being so early in the season.
I would expect a very competitive game from start to finish. I just don’t know if the Falcons can get enough stops to leave with the win though.
Air Force 31 – Colorado 35