SBN doesn't yet have a fansite devoted to Air Force but the Colorado Springs Gazette does a pretty good job at covering the 2-0 Falcons. Frank Schwab is the man who covers Air Force for the Gazette and he graciously accepted our invitation to talk a bit about this Saturday's match-up in Norman.
CC Machine: Air Force has the nation's top rushing attack through the first two games of the season but their passing attack seems a bit deficient statically. Is that an accurate description of that part of the offense or are the completely one dimensional on offense.
FS: I think in the past Air Force has been one dimensional, but junior quarterback Tim Jefferson brings something new to this offense. In the opener, Air Force threw on two of its first four plays, and Jeffeson had 68 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons will never be close to a 50-50 split on offense, because their trademark is the triple option. But, I think Jefferson's strides in the passing game, and a pretty deep group of receivers, gives them more choices than Troy Calhoun had in his first three seasons.
CC Machine: You reported on Sunday that fullback Jared Tew might be out this week with a broken bone in his hand. If that's the case then what kind of impact does that have on the Air Force offense?
FS: It's a pretty big loss, Tew is a very good inside runner and a good blocker. Nathan Walker would step in, and while he's a senior, he doesn't have nearly the experience Tew has, nor is he the same kind of dangerous runner. Tew is very good in the triple option, taking the fullback dive and finding a crease. Walker is a capable runner, but Tew is a first-team preseason all-Mountain West pick; he's tough for the Falcons to replace.
CC Machine: Let's talk defense. The Sooners manhandled a Florida State defense over the weekend that looked completely lost at times. We're expecting to see an Air Force unit that is a lot more sound scheme wise but do you think that they can match up with Oklahoma's athletes and slow down their offense?
FS: I think two of the Falcons' last three games shows that they can compete with very good and talented offenses. Against Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl last year, Air Force dominated a pretty good offense. Then on Saturday, they held BYU to less than 100 yards passing - the first time the Cougars were under 100 yards passing since 2003. And I don't think it's a bad BYU team, I just think that this Air Force secondary is very good. I think a lot of BCS-conference teams would love to have this secondary, with two first-team preseason all-Mountain West cornerbacks. I think the big question is if Air Force can handle Oklahoma's size up front. But, the Falcons played tough last week against a big BYU offensive line.
CC Machine: Give us some names on both sides of the ball that we need to get familiar with before Saturday. Who are the Air Force play makers?
FS: Mikel Hunter and Jonathan Warzeka are two of the faster receivers Air Force has had. Hunter had three touches on Saturday, and turned that into 90 yards and two touchdowns. Warzeka is good on reverses and can run by a defense in the passing game. Also, Kevin Fogler is a big receiver that almost never gets double covered because of Air Force's run offense - Fogler is second in Air Force history in yards per reception. Running back Asher Clark is also a pretty good tailback for the Falcons.
CC Machine: Keys to the game. What does Air Force need to do to be successful on Saturday?
FS: I think Air Force needs to control time of possession. If the Falcons can run the ball like they did against BYU and possess the ball for 35-40 minutes, maybe that allows them to not get worn down by a much bigger Sooners offensive line. They also have to win the turnover battle, which is something Air Force has done exceptionally well since Troy Calhoun took over as head coach. This defense is constantly trying to pick off a pass or strip the ballcarrier, and they'll need to make a few of those plays Saturday to be competitive.
We'd like to offer a special thanks to Mr. Schwab for hanging out with us for a while. You can find daily coverage and updates on the Air Force Falcons at the Gazette or at Frank Schwab's blog. You can also follow Frank on Twitter @ twitter.com/GazetteAirForce.