New Weapons Help to Sink Navy
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All You Could Ask For
It has been nearly a week since Air Force throttled Navy in front of a Cadets only crowd in Colorado Springs to the tune of 40-7. As their focus shifts to a matchup with San Jose State in two weeks, the Falcons may have found the contributors they were looking for to replace a depleted roster.
While its only one game, you can’t help but to be encouraged by the performance delivered by a nearly completely retooled defense, and an offense that had a lot of depth questions. Not to mention having no quarterback on the roster with experience of substance.
For a collective of widely overlooked, under-recruited and inexperienced players, you couldn’t ask for more than what they delivered on Saturday. As we climb towards conference play, I want to look back at some unexpected contributors that stood out from last week, and hopefully will on forward.
And we have something from all three phases of the game; offense, defense and special teams.
For all the question marks the Falcons entered last weeks game with on defense, they nearly made up for them on offense. Outside of quarterback, Air Force returned enough pieces that warrant confidence in their offensive attack.
The offensive line was dominant across the board, not just behind Parker Ferguson and Nolan Laufenberg on the left side. That would have been predictable. What was not so predictable was how well Nicholas Noyen, Kyle Krepsz and Adam Jewell played. That is not an indictment on the trio of new starters, probably more of a reflection of how good we already knew Ferguson and Laufenberg would be.
Regardless, with the cadence of a new quarterback and lack of chemistry across the line, this group performed above expectation. It’s not as if Noyen, Krepsz and Jewell have had no game experience, but they were not atop the depth chart previously, and debuted in a game whose stakes are as high as they come for an Air Force Cadet. Hats off to position coach Steed Lobotzke and crew for their preparation, it showed.
One of the primary benefactors of the aforementioned road graters was sophomore running back Brad Roberts. In a backfield that has talent and experience, Roberts is probably not a name most are familiar with. The Arvada local picked up where Duval Jackson left off, chewing up massive chunks of yards with every carry.
Roberts isn’t listed as a fullback on the roster, but that is where he primarily lined up. Much like Duval, he was explosive through hole, and didn’t waste all the daylight created by the o-line. When it was all said and done, Roberts collected 103 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries.
The diesels paved the way 🚜
Give some love to big fellas for earning @PFF_College O-line of the Week #LetsFly pic.twitter.com/6z400CS7NB
— Air Force Football (@AF_Football) October 6, 2020
The story of the Falcons dismantling of the Mids had to be the defense. With multiple freshman getting regular playing time and a majority of the defense filled with unknowns, this unit delivered in a big way. Plenty of credit should go to defensive coordinator John Rudzinski for the gameplan, but the execution on the field clearly showed.
Similar to the offensive line credits, George Silvanic is another one of those seniors who has waited his turn and made the most of it. Coincidentally, it wasn’t all that long ago that Silvanic was actually part of that o-line unit before transitioning over to the defensive line. Its appears like the right decision after recording seven tackes with 1.5 sacks in his first action. Continued play like this will certainly help ease the pain of not having Jordan Jackson in 2020.
Anytime a freshman cracks the starting lineup at Air Force it draws intrigue because it is not the norm. 2020 has been anything but normal though, so why not.
One of the many new faces on defense is of the 2020 three-star prospect variety in Alec Mock. The recruiting classes at Air Force have certainly gotten better, but not to the extent that incoming freshman are expected to play right away. The narrative changed with Alec Mock.
The Falcons’ freshman linebacker made the most of his opportunity to play early, registering seven tackles to go along with a sack. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, because four years of this type of play would be a welcome sight in the middle of the Air Force defense.
Air Force has been spoiled when it comes to consistency from their kicking game. It seems like year after year there is a steady leg in the lineup, even as the roster routinely turns over. Despite Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl being the only returning kicker with game action, the junior wasn’t even the listed starter on the depth chart. Now, that could be attributed to Troy Calhoun etiquette, but the bottom line is, TSR as he’s affectionately referenced, had a great game. In his first field goal attempt, he knocked it through from 48 yards out. He booted another three field goals from there, going a perfect 4/4 and then 3/3 on extra points.
A single data point constitutes not a pattern. However, you have to start somewhere, and 1-0 with a battering of Navy is about as good as you could ask for. And that is before you throw in all of the players who are not part of this years team, that were expected to be.
I know there will be challenges and adversity far beyond what they experienced against the Mids. But it is also reasonable to expect the team, particularly the lesser experienced defense, to get better as season goes on. Frankly, it will have to if the Falcons want to compete in the Mountain West, and of more consequence, the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.