The Air Force Falcons visit Colorado State on Saturday. Here are your three keys to a victory over the Rams.
The Falcons picked up another win on Friday night when they beat Nevada 45-42 in a thriller. It was just the latest close win in a month where every Falcons game has been decided by four points or fewer. Let’s see if that trend continues as the Falcons stay in state and head to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State.
Here are the three keys to this one:
Cover Michael Gallup
The Colorado State Rams are rolling through conference play and a big reason for that is the work of wide receiver Michael Gallup. Gallup is the best receiver that the Falcons will have faced in 2017 and his ability to catch the ball and keep the chains moving is something that Air Force has to be aware of on every single play.
Gallup was the first receiver in the nation to hit 1,000 yards passing this year. He has 1,006 yards receiving on the season to be exact and he is second in the country in yards per game (125.8) and comes in third in catches per game with 8.1. Gallup has almost seamless chemistry with quarterback Nick Stevens, to the point that when a play is breaking down the quarterback will just sling the ball in Gallup’s direction. He has a habit of making 50/50 balls into 75/25 balls in his favor and he will cause problems for Air Force on Saturday.
Outscore the Rams
Colorado State is an impressive offensive team. This is bad news for a Falcons defense that hasn’t really stopped anyone in a month. Since New Mexico put 56 points on the Falcons back in late September, the Falcons defense has given up yardage and points in bulk to Navy (48), UNLV (30) and Nevada (42). That Air Force managed to win two of those games says much more about the power of the Falcons offense than it does about the ability of the defense.
Air Force is 23rd in the country in scoring defense and the team averages 37.3 points per contest. On the flip side, the defense is 103rd in the country in scoring D and they give up 33.3 points per game. It will be the ground game again that fuels the offense – Air Force has the fifth best rushing attack in the nation with 341.4 yards per game – but until the defense is able to stop an opponent it is always going to be a race to 30 or 40 points if the Falcons are going to win.
Make a big play on special teams
This is one of those games where the Falcons are going to need to find an extra possession or two over the course of 60 minutes. Generating turnovers is one way to make that happen, but a big play on special teams at some point in this contest would go a long way towards helping the Falcons pick up a win.
This could be anything from a big, momentum-shifting kick return, to maybe a punt or field goal block. The Falcons special teams picked up an award this week when senior kicker Luke Strebel was named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week after his game-winning field goal against Nevada. What better way to celebrate that accomplishment than by making more noise on special teams against Colorado State?