Mountain West Football: Midseason Team Grades

Mountain West Football: Midseason Team Grades

Air Force

Mountain West Football: Midseason Team Grades

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Air Force Falcons

Air Force safety Camby Goff (11) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/Bart Young)

Report Card

Offense: A- | Defense: B | Special Teams: A | Meeting/Exceeding Expectations: B+

It’s little surprise that the Falcons’ rushing attack is once again one of the best in the country, currently first among all FBS teams in averaging 5.93 yards per carry with 23 touchdowns, but Mike Thiessen’s unit set a lofty overall standard in 2021 that they haven’t quite reached yet this season. Their 2.77 points per drive is still the best in the Mountain West, but that’s slightly down from the 3.08 PPD they managed a year ago. The same is also true of their available yards percentage earned (59.2% in 2021, 54.3% in 2022), though Air Force has improved their third-down conversion rate from 45.4% to 48.8% and pushed their touchdown rate in the red zone to 70.8%.

One problem has been an uncharacteristic carelessness with the football since the Falcons have lost eight of 12 fumbles to date. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels has also been a tick less effective when throwing the ball, as well, with a completion rate of 46.9% and a yards per attempt average of (with tongue in cheek) only 9.9 yards per attempt, though you could argue that’s more of a nitpick. That difference of one big pass play per game could be important in the season’s second half, though.

On defense, meanwhile, the coordinator transition from John Rudzinski to Brian Knorr hasn’t led to much drop-off. The pass rush has been unusually quiet to date with a 1.7% sack rate that’s currently dead last in the FBS, but the Falcons are also 46th overall in stuff rate (20.4%) while rankings 26th and 14th, respectively, in points per drive allowed and available yards percentage allowed.

Special teams has also been a quiet strength, as well, especially sophomore kicker Matthew Dapore. He’s already surpassed his production from 2021 in converted 10-of-11 field goal tries and has launched 45.5% of his kickoffs for a touchback. Punter Carson Bay hasn’t been very busy with just two punts per game, but he’s also improved in his sophomore season with an average of 42.1 yards per kick.

Head of the Class: Brad Roberts, RB

The Colorado native just keeps on plugging away, once again shouldering the heaviest workload of any running back in the Mountain West while ranking fourth among all FBS players with 853 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns. For the moment, he’s probably the leader in the clubhouse as the conference’s offensive player of the year.

One Player Deserving of More Attention: TD Blackmon, LB

Now an unquestioned leader on the Falcons defense, Blackmon is thriving in the middle of the action week after week. Not only does he lead the team with 7.5 tackles for loss, he’s also forced two fumbles and, according to Pro Football Focus, currently has the fifth-highest overall grade of any FBS linebacker at 85.7.

Midseason Grades By Team

Air Force | Boise State | Colorado State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Nevada | New Mexico | San Diego State | San Jose State | UNLV | Utah State | Wyoming

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