Last year, Air Force went 2-10 overall, including an abysmal 0-8 in the Mountain West. This year, however, has been a different story. The Falcons are 6-2 (2-2), have beaten Navy and Boise State, among others, and rank 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game (269.5).
That’s quite an improvement.
“As life goes, you live and you learn,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said on The MoJo Show. “Last year, we started four different nose guards, we started four different quarterbacks, and if we ever have to do that again, now we’re experienced at it. I’ll also tell you that’s not a plan, though, as we go down the road.”
Despite the injuries, it’s impressive that Calhoun didn’t let the struggles of last season affect the success of this season.
“Well, (we’ve) played some pretty solid football,” he said. “We’ve had some stretches where we played really well. I thought we played exceptionally well against Boise State in the victory there. I thought we played quite well against Navy, especially in the second half, and then last week in the second half up on the Hudson River at West Point.”
Air Force beat Army, 23-6, to win the Commander-in-Chief Trophy.
“It’s pretty neat, I think, for the whole school and the entire Air Force, especially to have to do that on the road,” Calhoun said.
Air Force senior quarterback Kale Pearson was 8-of-12 for 141 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against Army. He also rushed 11 times for 41 yards.
“(He’s a) heck of a young man,” Calhoun said. “Not real big. He’s 5-8, 170. Bright, super competitor. Has (great) composure, great sense (on the field), just great instinct for the game – a guy that’s been really productive both throwing and running for us.”
Pearson has thrown for 1,098 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions this season and is second on the team in rushing yards (411) and tied for first in rushing touchdowns (four). Sophomore tailback Jacobi Owens, meanwhile, has carried 170 times for 853 yards – 5.0 yards per game – and four touchdowns.
Air Force has four remaining games: at UNLV, against Nevada, at San Diego State and against Colorado State.
“We’ll see how we do in November,” Calhoun said. “I like the way we started this past Saturday, and yet, there’s an awful lot of football to be played. I think we know anytime you’re able to have a winning record and maybe play in a postseason game, it’s a big deal. It’s a really, really neat accomplishment. And yet for us, all your work, all your energy – the only place your focus can be – is on the current day and getting ready for this week.”
Calhoun was also asked for his thoughts on the College Football Playoff rankings, and he is clearly not a fan.
“It’s incomplete,” he said. “I do think it creates some interest, yet I think it’s pretty clear what it is. It’s an even stronger sway for the (power) five conferences. And yet, that’s what’s been agreed upon. Clearly, they’re the ones that are the most lucrative that have a significant amount of resources. It’s the only sport where it’s not an open championship. In every other sport that we have at the college level, everybody can be a part of it. Yet this one, that’s not the case.”
Air Force plays at UNLV this Saturday ay 4 p.m. ET.