Positions Up for Grabs
Renovating the O-Line
The Falcons concluded their rendition of ‘Spring Practice’ before the frost ever really thawed, and are now headed into the idle spell before their next (formally organized) leg of preparations for the 2021 season.
This doesn’t mean there is nothing left to talk about though! To the contrary; With the graduation of some all-time great players along with early departure from others, there are a lot of vacancies at key positions. And now that Spring ball is in the books, the roster outlook is starting to come to form.
In the coming weeks we will take a look at how each position group looks to be rounding out for 2021, and compare them relative to how it looked last season. But first there are some key vacancies that merit mention, and that is where we are going to focus our attention here.
Kadin Remsberg went AIRBORNE pic.twitter.com/OB5VFbIxDR
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 4, 2020
Outside of Colorado Springs, Kadin Remsberg never really garnered the attention he warranted in his tenure at Air Force. The Falcon runner from Kansas started to see the field as a sophomore before really taking the reigns his junior season which saw him eclipse 1,000 yards.
Interestingly enough, in his nearly 1,800 career rush yards, he averaged 5.8 yards per carry every season. In an offense that sees a significant division of labor between ball carriers, Kade Remsberg would have been a lock to clear 1,000 yards yearly given the opportunity be the primary ball carrier in more conventional offensive schemes.
What can’t be overlooked is how he made the most of his carries. With elite track speed, he was an explosive runner on the edge. However, he was much more than just a burner on the outside. With excellent field vision Remsberg routinely finished runs with power that collected additional real estate which is critical to a triple option offenses success. Don’t be surprised when Remsbergs tape is found in the possession of any number of NFL scouts. Ask NFL safety Troy Apke what running a sub 4.4 in the 40-yard dash can do for you as a prospect.
The 2021 Air Force roster does not have a Kade Remsberg on it. Frankly, not many rosters in the country will. But the Falcons will be challenged with replacing his production, and the most obvious direction to look would be last years breakout player, Brad Roberts. Recruited as a running back, Roberts was moved to full-back in 2020 to fill a need and played spectacular. It’s not a reach to expect to see the Arvada product return to his original spot in the backfield.
You would have to expect to see more of what we saw in 2020 as well while Remsberg was out; and that was getting Brandon Lewis the ball on the edge. The do-it-all receiver profiled very well as a slot back and provides the kind of speed on the edge that you love to see in the triple option attack. Expect to see Lewis’ touches increase in 2021, and justly so.
Outside of those two well established names, one of the many freshman to see the field last year, Jorden Gidrey should also be called upon. Gidrey got a lot of meaningful playing time last season and perhaps he can flex that potential into a big leap this season. Some other names to watch out for to claim those replacement carries from Remsberg would be; C.J. McNeal, Jacob Trach and my off the radar guy, Nolan Carey.
To be clear, Kadin Remsberg is an all-time great for the Falcons in talent and performance. No single player should have to shoulder the yoke of those expectations. It’s by committee that the running game can flourish until someone separates themselves from the pack, or the talent dictates a continuous distribution of carries.
What the Air Force defense missed in the absence of their standout cornerback, Milton (Tre) Bugg last year, they get back as he returns to the team for 2021. The question that remains though; who will surface as the starter opposite Bugg?
James Jones IV also returns with a wealth of experience all over the secondary. You would have to believe his five years of experience can only help fortify a spot. However, 2020 saw a lot of new faces enter their name to compete for playing time, many of which were underclassmen.
Elisha Palm was one of those new faces last season, and he made the most of the opportunity being a stalwart at corner. After a fine season, Palm has graduated though so his mates from last season; Zion Kelly, Corey Collins, Michael Mack II and David Eure are all potential candidates. Eure is the only senior to be in the bunch that played in 2020, but he is also one of the more highly rated recruits on the roster as a former 3-star prospect.
— Infinity Sports Report (@SportsInfinity5) January 18, 2021
THE Offensive Line
From tackle to tackle, the offensive line is going to have new starters in 2021. And just as earlier superlatives like “all-time great” were used to describe Kadin Remsberg, so too is such hyperbole fitting of 2020 graduates Parker Ferguson and Nolan Laufenberg. To take it a step further, it would be more surprising to not see one of these men, if not both on NFL rosters. By that virtue, the left side of the offensive line has a massive chasm left by these two studs. And that goes without mentioning the excellent play of Nicholas Noyen and All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention Kyle Krepsz.
Thankfully, offensive line has residually been a position of strength for the Falcons, and O-Line coach Steed Lobotzke has plenty to do with it. One of the things that will help ease the transition is the platooning of the offensive line last season. At times it reminds you of a line change in hockey, except the five players entering the game are pushing 300 pounds each. This approach kept the line fresh for a four quarter pounding of the opposing defense as well as giving depth players very meaningful reps.
Considering there will be five positions across the line up for grabs, the list of potential candidates could be extensive. However, there are a handful of guys who if they are not at starting, should be factoring in the depth chart and getting snaps.
Hawk Wimmer, Kris Campbell and Ryan Booth all saw the field pretty regularly last season and should be prime candidates to start in 2021. Accompanying them from last year, though not getting the same reps were Jason Medeiros, Ethan Schofield and freshman Holden Brosnan.
At the end of the day, this is a position group that deserves the benefit of the doubt. So until things sort themselves out with this retooled unit, just take a deep breath and remember “in coach Lobotzke we trust”.
It’s well documented that with the significant volume of transfers and very limited information made available on players by the Academy, any projection of a roster is far from infallible. It’s probably not as inexact as this years NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket is shaping up, but you get the picture.
What is a little more concrete is the talent that we already know is returning should make this team formidable in the Mountain Division, and Conference.