The 2012 season will have been winding down by this point of the year. These Mountain West Conference foes, the University of Hawaii Warriors and the Air Force Academy Falcons will have played nearly their entire schedule at this point. This gridiron contest in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will be on Friday night November 16th in Falcon Stadium at 7:30PM Mountain Time and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 before a national audience.
Air Force will have played a couple straight games on the road with the prior week's contest being a big game in the Mountain West at San Diego State. Hawaii, in their first year of Mountain West competition, will likewise have played host to a big game, this one against conference favorite Boise State (see related articles).
Frosty night awaits
A mid-November evening game in the foothills of the Rockies is not exactly conjuring up warm thoughts. Snow starts becoming a little more of a regular occurrence in the second half of fall but even a lack of flurries doesn't change the fact that nighttime temperatures will likely be freezing … or even colder.
Warrior D up against excellent run game
Air Force lost a lot of starters from their 2011 squad that a lot was expected from - ending up only 7-6. Included in those personnel losses was their quarterback and top running back. But not to worry. Head coach Troy Calhoun always has more players waiting in the wings for his run-first, pass - well, pass very seldom triple-option scheme. Fullback Mike DeWitt and tailback Wes Cobb should be more than adequate for the Falcon running attack. Connor Dietz is a quality replacement at quarterback.
The Warriors will have to bring their A-game on defense. Hawaii has a fast, quick but small defense whose best unit will likely be their defensive backs - that doesn't help against a big-time running game that Air Force presents. The Falcons will come right at the Warriors and try to grind them down. It could get ugly. But this is also a long season for the Falcons as well; and, they are thin in the backfield, so … ?
The Air Force defense will take some time during the year to develop. But the typical plug-and-play ability the Falcon coaching staff seems to be able to pull off every year should see the defense jell as the season moves along.
To be honest though, Air Force's defense is a big question and the only thing they have going for themselves with Hawaii is that the Warriors are starting an entirely new offensive program with a more balanced approach. That said, Hawaii's wide receivers are its best unit on offense and by this time of year should have a pretty good air attack with their new quarterback Sean Schroeder. Surprisingly, Schroeder has quickly emerged as the best signal-caller on the team; although, he's a transfer from Duke and hasn't even stood on the sidelines for the Warriors yet.
Away in thin cold air, leads to ...
Neither one of these two teams are big size-wise. By this late stage of the season, quick teams like these wear down and aren't as productive - even though Hawaii might be faster, the style of the Falcons prevails at this late juncture in the season. The triple option or flexbone (as it's sometimes called) isn't anything the men of Manoa have seen so it could be trouble. That and the fact the Warriors will have traveled 3,400 miles to play at 6,600 feet in thin air and cold temperatures. So, Hawaii wears down and Air Force pulls away by a couple touchdowns in the latter stages of the game. And note that this battle may very well qualify the winner for a bowl game.
The Air Force Academy Falcons will end their season a week later at Fresno State, while the Hawaii Warriors head home for the winter with a game against UNLV.
All you can say about this trip to central Colorado near the end of the year is: Hawaii, you wanted to be in the Mountain West - welcome to the Mountain West … brrr.
Sources - Air Force Academy, University of Hawaii
Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of college football as well as Hawaii, visiting there as a second home for over 40 years. Go 'Bows!
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