2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Anthony LaCoste: 1,000-yard back?

Published: November 3, 2013, 8:02 am, by Brent Briggeman

As crazy as it might have seemed about 24 hours ago, Air Force may have a running back go for 1,000 yards this year.

The program has produced a 1,000-yard back in four of coach Troy Calhoun’s first six years (and a 970-yarder in one of the others), but it seemed an impossible figure to reach this year as no one had emerged as a featured back. Until yesterday.

A look at the numbers shows that Anthony LaCoste – fresh off a 263-yard performance against Army – now has a legitimate shot at the milestone.

LaCoste currently has 604 rushing yards, so he needs 396 to hit 1,000. The final three opponents on Air Force’s schedule have given up a combined 634.4 yards per game (New Mexico 252.9, UNLV 244.7 and Colorado State 136.8). Over the past three games, LaCoste has accounted for 53.7 percent of Air Force’s rushing yards (431 out of 802). If Air Force hits the per-game average against those remaining teams and LaCoste holds steady on his percentage of the Falcons’ rushing yards, he would finish at 944 yards.

Remember, however, that Air Force is not an average running team. The Falcons are 11th in the nation at 279.2 yards per game. If they hold that average they would run for 838 yards over the final three games. If LaCoste accounts for 53.7 percent of that, he would finish with 1,054 yards.

Of course this is all projection and LaCoste’s numbers are a bit skewed by the second-best individual rushing performance in team history. And while it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere – LaCoste did break 100 yards two games earlier – it was certainly a surprise.

Two similar performances come to mind. Barry Word, who had never before run for 30 yards in a game, ran for 200 yards for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Detroit Lions in 1990. Over his next three games he averaged 47 yards. The other was Chad Hall, who after running for 15, 19 and 29 yards in a three-game stretch ripped off 169 yards for Air Force against UNLV in 2007 and the next week he went for 256. Hall’s next three games included performances of 167, 97 and 275 yards – the 275 being the only game in Falcons’ history more prolific than LaCoste’s on Saturday.

Will Lacoste be the next Barry Word, the next Chad Hall or something in between?

And there’s one thing to keep in mind – LaCoste has done all of this before on a lesser scale. In fact, the last time before Saturday that he had received more than 18 carries do you know what he did? He ran for 272 yards in a game for West Albany High School in Oregon.

Air Force may have finally found its star running back and it’s not too late, even with three games remaining, for LaCoste to post star-like numbers.