Air Force unleashed the second-largest comeback in school history to defeat UNLV at home last Saturday. The Falcons were down 27-0 late in the second quarter, before scoring 34 points to take the game 34-30. With momentum on their side, Air Force now travels to Nevada.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Hold onto the ball
The reason that Air Force found itself in such a huge hole against UNLV was the Falcons’ inability to hold onto the ball. Air Force fumbled the ball five times – losing four of them – yet somehow still managed to come back and win a game that they had no right to. It is almost impossible to win when the turnover difference in minus two, yet Air Force managed to do so on the back of their strong offensive play.
Nevada (1-6) is not a very good team. The Falcons are better in almost every facet of the game, but if Air Force lets the Wolf Pack stay in the game with turnovers and other mistakes then this matchup will stay closer than it has any right to be.
Let Arion Worthman do his thing
Quarterback Arion Worthman was the difference as Air Force was able to run down a seemingly unassailable UNLV lead last Saturday. It wasn’t just the level of Worthman’s play that was impressive, but also his ability to stay focused on the task at hand in the face of such a big deficient on the scoreboard. Worthman succeeded in playing against the clock as opposed to trying to run down the 27 point lead in one play. This took away the mistakes that plagued Air Force early and allowed the quarterback to dictate tempo. It was a very impressive performance.
Worthman rushed for five second-half touchdowns against the Wolf Pack to go along with his 166 yards on the ground. That means for the season Worthman has 550 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, numbers that look set to improve now he has found his rhythm. If he gets his carries against the Wolf Pack – and he should considering his 143 totes on the season are more than twice that of running back Tim McVey – then he will take over the game.
Improved defensive line play
The Air Force defensive line has been a problem for the Falcons in 2017. The unit doesn’t generate a lot of pressure and as a result, the Falcons have just 22 tackles for a loss and five sacks on the season. It is a unit that needs to get better if the Falcons are going to make a run towards a bowl game as the ability to get an opposing quarterback to the ground to kill a drive is such a huge, momentum-shifting play. The Air Force front seven has been serviceable, but it is time for them to step up their game and take it to the next level.