After Air Force’s 49-10 trouncing of visiting San Diego State last week, it’s easy to wonder if the air has been put in the Air Force attack.
Senior quarterback Zac Larrier completed 6-of-7 passes for 189 yards for two touchdowns and no interceptions. That set new career game highs for Larrier in completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.
To put that total in perspective, Larrier had attempted a total of seven passes in the previous four games.
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That’s all that Air Force opponents need is something else to worry about other than stopping the run.
No, Air Force isn’t abandoning its bread and butter, which is the run game in the triple option attack.
The Falcons led the nation in rushing each of the previous three seasons and are on top again, averaging 340 yards per game. While Larrier reached several career highs in passing during the win over San Diego State, he also rushed for a career-high 103 yards (12.9 avg.).
Against San Diego State, the Falcons rushed for ‘only’ 287 yards, so no, they won’t be abandoning the run anytime soon.
Especially since Larrier was the Mountain West outdoor track champion in the 200 meters during the spring of 2021. He also won the Mountain West indoor championship in the 200 meters during the 2022 indoor season with a time of 20.95, the second fastest in program history.
A more pertinent question is whether the Falcons have a chance to be the best Group of Five team this season.
Air Force is 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain West and has a bye this week before hosting Wyoming on Oct. 14. Meanwhile Wyoming (4-1) has to host No. 24 Fresno State this week, a treacherous two-game stretch.
This is the best start to a season for Air Force since 2003. The Falcons are 3-0 in the Mountain West for the first time since 2010.
Right now, Fresno State is the lone G5 team in the AP Top 25. There is no doubt that Air Force could have a case to be ranked, especially if it beats Wyoming.
The Falcons have won 10 straight games.
They don’t play Fresno State in the regular season but could meet the defending Mountain West champs in the conference title game.
The win over San Diego State bears closer examination. San Diego State may be 2-4, but two of the losses were to Power 5 teams, UCLA and No. 16 Oregon State.
The Aztecs lost 35-10 at home to UCLA and 26-9 at Oregon State in successive weeks. They also lost 34-31 to Boise State before last week’s defeat to Air Force. That is a killer schedule, and Air Force had the largest margin of victory against the Aztecs.
Air Force averages 37.6 points and allows 12.2.
Senior linebacker Alec Mock has a team-high 37 tackles. Senior defensive end PJ Ramsey leads the Falcons in both tackles for loss (6.0) and sacks (3.5). Emmanuel Michel is the leading rusher, having gained 400 yards (4.4 avg.) and eight touchdowns. Larrier is second with 362 yards (5.8 avg.) and three scores.
Coach Troy Calhoun has a team that is strong on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Still, there has to be skepticism at this point.
The Falcons have yet to beat a team with a current winning record. That includes four FBS schools and FCS Robert Morris.
There will be plenty of challenges, beginning with an upcoming three-game stretch. After hosting Wyoming, Air Force visits Navy and then travels to Colorado State, the team that famously took Colorado to double overtime before losing. The final two regular-season games are home against UNLV and then the regular season finale at Boise State, a truly difficult ending stretch.
So Air Force will have plenty of challenges. Maybe the Falcons will keep throwing the ball, but no matter how the attack goes, it’s not going to be very fun to try to stop.