Air Force ran into a hot Boise State squad last time out, going down 44-19 in another disappointing performance. The Falcons now take on Utah State in their final regular season game of 2017.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Remember there is something to play for
Obviously, the players should be playing for the pride of the jersey each and every week, but when a team has a bowl game to aim for the intensity level picks up just a touch. The Falcons are set to endure their first losing record since 2013, but because of the vast amount of bowl bids that are set to be handed out in 2017, having a 5-7 record at the end of the regular season might be enough to see the Falcons backdoor their way into postseason play.
There many, many permutations here, but if the right teams lose over the final two weeks of the season – and remember that these squads are struggling to secure bowl bids for a reason – then the Academic Progress Rate of Air Force would be enough to see the Falcons go bowling. This is important if for no other reason than the extra weeks of practice can help a team get a head start on next season.
Stop turning the ball over
Boise State was able to get on top of Air Force last weekend because the Falcons couldn’t get out of their own way. Air Force had three first-half turnovers and Boise State capitalized as all good teams do by turning those turnovers into points. The Broncos scored 17 points directly off of Air Force turnovers and that allowed them to carry a 27-10 lead into the break.
This Air Force team is not good enough to overcome turnover issues like that against a bad team, let alone one as good as Boise State. The Aggies are not at the Broncos level, but if Air Force gives Utah State as many extra possessions as they did to Boise State, then another blowout loss is a distinct possibility.
Continue to be effective in the red zone
While the Falcons offense has had its ups and downs in 2017, the one constant has been the ability of Air Force to finish drives in the red zone. Troy Calhoun’s squad has scored touchdowns on 32 of 42 red zone possessions, showing that when the offense gets rolling it is very difficult to stop.
Against Utah State, the Falcons need to have the mindset that they will score every time they reach the Aggies 20-yard line. Arion Worthman should be back at quarterback after missing the Boise State game and if he and Tim McVey get going they present a solid 1-2 punch that the Aggies will struggle to defend.