Since we've officially rolled over into the month of June, and the 2010 football countdown has started, we're taking the words, "Way Too Early" off of our previews. While the football season couldn't get here soon enough it will be here before we know it. Thus we move on in our previews. Today our focus is on Oklahoma's third opponent of the season, the Air Force Falcons.
The 2009 Falcons finished the season with an 8-5 record (5-3 in the Mountain West) and a New Year's Eve bowl win over the Houston Cougars. They finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference in scoring offense with 28.3 points per game. With an offense heavily slanted towards the running game its no surprise that the Falcons ranked last in the conference in passing with just 82.3 yards per game. Conversely their rushing attack was much stronger. Air Force boasted a team average of 4.4 yards per carry and 273.6 rushing yards per game. Air Force crossed the goal line 31 times last season on the ground as opposed to just 8 through the air.
Defensively the Falcons were very sound in 2009. They finished second in the conference in scoring defense with just 15.3 points allowed per game. Against the rush they held opponents to 136.1 yards per game and against the pass they were the best team in the Mountain West Conference. Air Force only allowed opponents 148.7 yards through the air and snagged 20 interceptions while allowing just 9 passing touchdowns.
The good news for the Falcons is that they return their leading passer, receiver and their top six rushers from 2009. The bad news for Air Force is that their offensive line was loaded with seniors last season and they'll all be gone in 2010.
The Air Force offense will be unlike any other offense the Sooners will face in 2010. The will run the ball from just about every skill position and just to keep a defense honest, or to catch them when the safties cheat up, they'll throw in a timely pass here or there.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson completed 57% of his passes for 848 yards and 5 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions last season as a sophomore. He also ran for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns. While Jefferson wasn't the main threat in the Air Force rushing attack he did average 25.4 rushing yards per game. His favorite target in 2009 was wide receiver Kevin Fogler who hauled in 25 receptions for 567 yards and a team high 5 receiving touchdowns.
The key to stopping the Air Force rushing attack is figuring out who has the ball. The Falcons use a variety of formations and misdirection plays to try and get their back in space. In `09 they had seven players, who ran the ball at least 40 times, average over 4 yards per carry. Getting the bulk of the load are fullback Jared Tew and tailback Asher Clark. Tew led the team in carries with 238. He averaged 74.6 yards per game (4.1 YPC) and scored 9 rushing touchdowns. Clark was second in total carries with 151. He led the team in yard per carry average with 5.7 and gave the Falcons 66.5 yards per game on the ground.
The Falcons are losing their top three tacklers from `09 in Justin More, John Falgout and Andre Morris. Also gone is Ben Garland who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks with 10.5 and 4.5 in each category. Safety Chris Thomas was second on the team in interceptions with 5 and is the only member who will be absent in 2010 from a secondary that was outstanding last season.
The Falcons weren't totally decimated from graduation on defense. Defensive end Rick Ricketts placed second on the team in sacks last weekend with 4. Safety Jon Davis snagged three interceptions last year and corner Anthony Wright led the team in picks with seven.