Just like in the Navy and Utah and BYU losses, Air Force had its chances today.
But the Falcons made too many mistakes and didn’t pounce on enough of the opportunities they had in a 34-28 loss.
The defeat was Air Force’s third straight in bowl games and sixth in sixth trips to Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Lots of people will argue that bowls – outside of the national championship game – don’t really mean all that much. Try telling that to the Falcons. The players and coaches were visibly distraught after the game. Like Herm Edwards said, you play to win the game. No matter what game it is.
Chris Thomas (who played a monster game with a game- and bowl-record 16 tackles, including two for losses, and a fumble recovery) was particularly upset that the team couldn’t win the game for its seniors.
“Obviously, it’s going to suck not to be able to play with the guys that are graduating,” he said.
But once the sting of this loss subsides, it’ll time to get excited about next year. And there should be a whole lot about which to be excited.
“I feel a lot of excitement for next year,” Thomas said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back, we’ve got a lot of talent. This is a huge offseason for us, we’ve got to get in the weight room, and we’ve got to have a good spring ball.”
-I wrote a story about this for tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette, but it bears repeating here: The Falcons seem to have found their fullback of the future (to go along with their quarterback and tailback of the future). Jared Tew rushed for a career-best and bowl-record 149 yards and two scores on 27 carries.
He’d already show the ability to break big plays with his touchdown runs against BYU and TCU. Today he showed he can be the every-down fullback the Falcons need.
-If I were a Falcons fan, I’d like the answer freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson had when he was asked after the game about what more he expects of himself next season: “I expect to be a more complete player. When I first came in, I wasn’t as sound as I could be in the passing game, and that kind of held us back a little bit. And then as the season progressed and I got more experience underneath my belt, I got a little more comfortable in the throwing game, and finally we were able to open it up a little bit. But next year I expect to be a premier passer as well as runner.”
-Air Force opened some eyes in the second half when it opened up its offense, throwing deep several times. Was that a glimpse of the offense Troy Calhoun eventually wants to run at the academy? “Perhaps, and yet you’ve got to be able to connect on those. There are times where we overthrew a receiver, and there are other times where the ball is pretty well thrown, and we have to be able to get a little more separation and get to the spot where the ball was and be able to run through it and be able to hit a big play.”
-I’ll check in tomorrow morning with links to our stories in The Gazette. And in the Jan. 2 edition of The Gazette there will be another article looking forward.
Happy New Year to everyone.