Hmm… another I-AA team to open up for a Mountain West school. For the Falcons this is not that bad of a game to have, because they lost 95% of their offensive production mainly coming from QB Shaun Carney and Z-Back Chad Hall. This game should able the Falcons to find out who is capable of performing in a live game situation. The Southern Utah Thunderbirds are out of the Great West Conference where they lost every conference game as well as going 0-11 all year long. It can be safe to say this will be a struggle for the T-Birds.
Offense: Going 0-11 pretty much assumes that your offense is no good, and the Thunderbirds averaged only 16 per game, and that included zero I-A teams. Their high point total of their came in a blowout loss to South Dakota State where they scored 27 points. The quarterback situation should be more clear with Cody Stone being the sole player, after sharing time last year. Stone put up 1200 yards and 56 completion percentage, but his achilles was the touchdown to interception ratio as being seven touchdowns and fifteen picks. That must improve for the Thunderbirds to have a chance, and especially against the Cadets who always play a discpline type of defense. As for the other positions the top returning running back is Jamar Lee who had less then 100 yards all season, so that position is going to be wide open this year, and for the wide receivers the top returning players are Nick Miller who had 35 receptions and 14 yards per catch and then also Tysson Poots who had similar stats to Miller. The wide outs for the Thunderbirds should be their strength with the single starter at quarterback and the return of this receiving duo.
Defense: Not much to brag about here because on the defensive side Southern Utah gave up 41 points per game. That has to improve and by having seven returning starters is a start with experience and hopefully improved their skills in the off season. The secondary should be the best porition of their defense with all four starters returning and will need to be the anchor of their defense. There is no reason to expect this defense to have a massive turn around to a shut down defense but improvement should be expected, it may not show in this game but the Thunderbirds will be better.
Early Prediction: Even with the Falcons losing nearly all their offense, Air Force should win by at least three touchdowns and that might be nice.