Mountain West Report: Air Force more balanced but won't abandon roots

air force more balanced but won’t abandon roots

Air Force not only continues to operate the triple option, but the Falcons will stick with that offense.

Coach Troy Calhoun never had any intention of going away from that scheme when he talked about opening up the playbook.

The passing game, instead, is an added element to what was the Mountain West’s most-dominant rushing attack until New Mexico surpassed it this season with its version of the triple option.

Tweaking the offense remains a work in progress for the Falcons, who have thrown 141 passes and run the football 538 times entering Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. PST game against visiting UNLV. It’s a little tighter ratio than the 151 passes and 804 rushing attempts the Falcons put together last season, but no one will confuse them with Fresno State’s throw-all-over-the-field attack.

Opening up the offense some “gives you the chance to go after some big plays, which I think we have to do,” Calhoun said Tuesday. “Now will it be 30 attempts a game? It will not.”

The Falcons have been on a gradual slide since going 9-4 in 2010. They followed that season by going 7-6 in 2011, 6-7 in 2012 and 2-8 so far this season. Air Force will not play in a bowl for the first time in seven years.

Calhoun sees the spread teams dominating the landscape and knows the triple option, as effective and deceptive as it can be, can take the Falcons only so far.

He also sees the physical restrictions put on academy recruits, and the difference between the size of Air Force’s offensive line and the fronts the Falcons face grow each year.

“We have no upperclassman that’s bigger than 270 pounds right now,” Calhoun said. “If you look 20 years ago, between our offensive line and other teams’ offensive lines, it was probably on average about a 25-pound difference, where now you’re probably closer to 60 pounds. I see that continuing to increase.”


Air Force linebacker Joey Nichol, who leads the Falcons with 80 tackles and 7½ for loss, will not play against UNLV because of a groin injury. … Boise State will make $1.6 million in TV bonuses as part of its deal to stay in the Mountain West. Fresno State is second in the conference with $1.3 million. … Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs has scored at least three touchdowns in five straight games, tying the national record held by San Diego State’s Paul Hewitt in 1987, Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988 and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball in 2011. Bibbs, a sophomore, is second nationally in yards rushing (1,439) and leads in total touchdowns (25), points (150) and points per game (13.6). … New Mexico senior running back Kasey Carrier will not play again after suffering concussion symptoms. Sophomore quarterback Cole Gautsche is out the final two games for the same reason, and because this is a repeat experience, his football future is uncertain. … San Jose State hosts Navy on Friday, which is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Active and former military members can receive two free tickets to the game, and enlistment ceremonies will take place.


1. No. 15 Fresno State (9-0, 6-0 MW). Last game: Defeated Wyoming 48-10. Next game: vs. New Mexico, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 49-32 in 2012.

2. Boise State (7-3, 5-1). Last game: Defeated Wyoming 48-7. Next game: at San Diego State, Saturday. Lost 21-19 in 2012.

3. Utah State (6-4, 5-1). Last game: Defeated UNLV 28-24. Next game: vs. Colorado State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 31-19 in 2012.

4. San Diego State (6-4, 5-1). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 28-21 (OT). Next game: vs. Boise State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 21-19 in 2012.

5. Colorado State (6-5, 4-2). Last game: Defeated New Mexico 66-42. Next game: at Utah State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 31-19 in 2012.

6. San Jose State (5-5, 4-3). Last game: Lost to UNR 38-16. Next game: vs. Navy, Friday. Last meeting: Won 12-0 in 2012.

7. UNLV (5-5, 3-3). Last game: Lost to Utah State 28-24. Next game: at Air Force, Thursday. Last meeting: Won 38-35 in 2012.

8. UNR (4-7, 3-5). Last game: Defeated San Jose State 38-16. Next game: vs. Brigham Young, Nov. 30. Last meeting: Won 27-13 in 2010.

9. Wyoming (4-6, 2-4). Last game: Lost to Boise State 48-7. Next game: vs. Hawaii, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 35-6 in 1997.

10. New Mexico (3-7, 1-5). Last game: Lost to Colorado State 66-42. Next game: at Fresno State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 49-32 in 2012.

11. Air Force (2-8, 0-6). Last game: Lost to New Mexico 45-37. Next game: vs. UNLV, Thursday. Last meeting: Lost 38-35 in 2012.

12. Hawaii (0-10, 0-7). Last game: Lost to San Diego State 28-21 (OT). Next game: at Wyoming, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 35-6 in 1997.


Boise State (7-3, 5-1 MW) at San Diego State (6-4, 5-1). The Aztecs stunned Boise 21-19 last season. Now the Broncos not only seek revenge, they need to hold off Utah State in the Mountain Division.