Air Force at Sam Houston State: Falcons Game Preview, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Falcons Head to Houston in Week Two
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Air Force Takes on Same Houston for the first time.
WEEK 2: Air Force Falcons 1-0 (0-0) vs. Same Houston Bearkats 0-0 (0-0)
WHEN: Saturday, September 9th — 6:00 P.M. MT/ 5:00 P.M. PT
WHERE: NRG Stadium (Houston, TX)
TV: CBS Sports Network Carter Blackburn (play-by-play), Robert Turbin (analyst)
RADIO: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs, 104.3 the Fan in Denver, SIRIUS XM 380, SXM 970
Jim Arthur (play-by-play), Jesse Kurtz (analyst)
SERIES RECORD: Air Force has never played Sam Houston.
WEBSITES: GoBearkats.com, the official Sam Houston athletics website | GoAirForceFalcons.com, the official Air Force athletics website
GAME NOTES (PDF): Sam Houston | Air Force
SP+ PROJECTION: Air Force by 14.5
FEI PROJECTION: Air Force by 23.9
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTIONS: Air Force 15.6
A banged up Air Force team heads to Houston to take on FBS newcomers, the Sam Houston Bearkats. While the Falcons cruised to a convincing week one victory against FCS opponent, Robert Morris, the Bearkats had their hands full with much stiffer competition in BYU.
For the second year in a row K.C. Keeler’s squad was shutout in their season opener. But the defense should certainly get some attention with their showing at Provo. Losing 14-0, the Bearkats were very stingy, holding the Cougars to just 257 yards of total offense. We don’t know how good BYU is this year, but the newest C-USA member still impressed.
Troy Calhoun’s squad got a good look at their depth last week. Unfortunately, not all of that was because of a significant lead. While they did batter Robert Morris and get a lot of players game action, Air Force entered the game a little dinged up, and added one of the best players in the Conference to that list of those on the mend. Camby Goff sustained a pretty significant injury against the Colonials, the last thing you want to see when playing an FCS opener.
Heading into week two, they are hoping to have a few key players back who weren’t dressed in week one. The presence alone of players to the likes of Dane Kinamon won’t promise a win at NRG Stadium though. Here are a few keys to staying in the win column.
takeaways, no giveaways
Turnovers can be the great equalizer in any game. In their opener, Air Force put the ball on the ground three times versus a vastly inferior opponent. The Bearkats saw Keegan Shoemaker throw a trio of interceptions.
This is not Rhett Bomar or Josh McCown slinging the ball around. The Falcons should be able to capitalize on what has proven to be a willing participant to put the ball into dangerous flight patterns. There is no need to match the Bearkats willingness to give the ball away. That’s could be the key ingredient to an upset.
Both teams held their opponents under four yards per play; Air Force 3.1 and Sam Houston 3.8. The Bearkats were only able to muster 3.2 yards per play on offense though. A historically good defense in 2022, still has some identity here in 2023’s version of the Falcon defense. Getting yards should not come easy against them.
Make it hard for Sam Houston to move the ball on the ground especially, and force Shoemaker to put the ball in the air. After last weeks result, you could expect Keeler’s squad to get much more production on the ground. But don’t comply. Make Saturday feel like Groundhog day for the Bearkats with a K.
GET THE BACKS MORE CARRIES
Last week saw pretty much anyone with a blue jersey get a carry against Robert Morris. But starting quarterback, Zac Larrier still got a majority of those carries. He’s a homerun threat with the ball in his hands, and they will be relying on him a lot this season.
Team’s need to feel uneasy about the prospect on their trio of fullbacks getting the ball, just as much as the threat of John Lee Eldridge III or Zac Larrier gashing them. Establishing that fullback run game is almost like a cheat code for the Air Force offense. Unlock that part your game, and it’s going to make for some miserable drives for the opposing defense.
K.C. Keeler has done a fantastic job in his tenure at Sam Houston State University. Before last years 5-4 campaign to conclude their FCS era, the Bearkats went on a tear, going 21-1, with a National Championship the prior two seasons. It’s no coincidence they earned a step up in weight class to the FBS under his leadership.
Even in a loss to BYU, there is a lot to be optimistic about if you’re a Bearkats fan. I think the Sam Houston faithful will have to temper that enthusiasm for a few more weeks, until the schedule relents a little though.
Air Force didn’t face great competition, but they also had the luxury of running a lot of players out there, and keeping with a gameplan that is modeled on consistency, repetition and flawless execution. That’s going to be difficult to deal with, even after a great showing against BYU.
I would expect the Falcon’s offensive arsenal to be more faceted and lethal this week. And frankly, it will need to be. But combined with complimentary football from a very good defense, and it will seem a lot like Provo again by night’s end I suspect.
Texas has been quite kind to Air Force recently, rewarding them with trophies their past two visit to the great state. Defeating Baylor in a bowl game, and a neutral site victory over Army to secure the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy proved quite the bounty. No trophy this Saturday, just a W as they the Falcons pull away in the second half.
Air Force 27 – Sam Houston 10
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