Lafayette vs. Air Force: Game Preview, How to Watch, Prediction
The Falcons get the 2021 season underway against FCS Lafayette. Here’s how to tune in and what to watch for against the Leopards.
What should we expect from the Falcons?
WEEK 1: United States Air Force Academy vs. Lafayette College
WHEN: Saturday, September 4th — 12:00 PM MT/11:00 AM PT
WHERE: Falcon Stadium; Colorado Springs, CO
RADIO: The Air Force broadcast can be found in Colorado Springs on 740 AM (KVOR) or streamed via Air Force All-Access.
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between Lafayette and Air Force.
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 37.3
The 2021 season gets underway for Air Force this Saturday much like it does in any normal season: by playing an FCS opponent. With a 2020 season that was like no other behind us, the Falcons have some lofty expectations for the coming fall.
With a host of impact players returning to the team from a turnback year, and a handful of starters who played through last years pandemic riddled season, this iteration of Air Force football could be very special. Before they start peeking ahead at a potential reunion with the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy, though, or return to the Mountain West championship game, the Falcons will first need to take care of business against the Lafayette Leopards.
Lafayette travels to Colorado Springs with a long program history, as 2021 marks its 140th season in college football. It’s a history which includes 32 games versus Army and Navy, even getting in the win column against West Point way back in 1940.
Despite all of that history, however, this is the first matchup between these two schools, and in their 140 years of competing, Falcon Stadium will be the furthest the Leopards will have traveled from their Eastern Pennsylvania campus when they play on Saturday. Unfortunately for Lafayette, the Rockies won’t be the only mountain to climb that weekend with a very formidable Air Force team awaiting.
In an FCS matchup like this, “winning” can take on a little different meaning when your in a position like Air Force is, believing they will contend for a conference title. Let’s take a look at three keys to winning the weekend.
Three Keys to an Air Force Victory
1. Stay Healthy
I’m not saying that the 2013 Falcons would have won more than the two games they did that season had starting quarterback Kale Pearson not gotten injured for the season in their week one game against FCS Colgate. It surely didn’t help their cause, though, so it’s important to get through the weekend without sustaining any significant injuries. It is a long and daunting season ahead of the Falcons.
2. BUILD CONTINUITY
There are a lot of experience players returning to the roster this year as noted. However, a lot of these players have not played in some time outside of practice. With the first live bullets of game action coming this week, it’s best to work out any kinks against an FCS opponent rather than trying to figure things out in the Annapolis pressure cooker against Navy the following week.
The offensive line, in particular, is completely retooled. Yes, though some of these guys have seen the field, but this will be the first time they are playing together as a unit. Chemistry is critical on the offensive line, especially with the harmony necessary to effectively execute the triple-option offense.
3. SPECIAL TEAMS MOMENTUM
One of the real unknowns for this team is going to be special teams. Last year’s kicking game started off spectacularly against Navy, then really digressed from that point on. The shape of the uprights will not change from week to week, no matter who the Falcons play, so getting Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl on track should be a priority.
Likewise, the field position advantage that an effective punt unit can provide can’t be understated, especially if you’re of the belief that your defense has potential to be one of the best in the country. Similar to the kicking game, there is opportunity for Charles Bein to take a step forward in 2021, and in tandem with their defense could make like really difficult for opposing teams.
Lafayette is going to be a solid FCS team this fall and will likely contend for the Patriot League title. They return a very good defense, along with a coach whose program rebuild has shown steady progress under coach John Garrett, now in year five.
The Leopards showcase six preseason all-Patriot League players entering Saturday’s game, and they will all be leaned upon heavily throughout the season. And in the always critical quarterback position, they’ll likely be relying on Washington State transfer Aaron Angelos, who will make his debut after redshirting in Pullman.
Everything that was just mentioned are reasons for Lafayette fans to be excited in 2021. The reality is,they are going to work through kinks of their own on Saturday, just like the Falcons. The big difference between both teams is that the Leopards are simply overmatch player for player, position by position. They are going to leave Colorado Springs with a loss that will have no bearing on their season, assuming they leave healthy.
The Falcons, on the other hand, have to focus on execution and getting their game right, so they enter the first heat of the Commander-in-Chief’s round robin with some confidence and consistency.
Air Force 42- Lafayette 10