I expected Air Force (AF) to rebound from a dismal 2-10 record. They exceeded everyone’s expectations by going 9-3, plus a bowl win. Credit the defense which improved by leaps and bounds. Many of their accomplishments are listed below. Only four defensive starters return. Can the Falcons keep their momentum going?
Let’s try this again. 3rd year coach Matt Wells has won 19 of 28 games. Amazingly they are about 15-4 in games without QB Chuckie Keeton! The young staff deserves credit for playing musical QB chairs in each of the last two seasons, and for putting together an outstanding defense. ’15 brings more change, and more challenges. It also marks the return of Keeton.
So that went well! Boise lost in coach Harsin’s debut to a solid Ole Miss team and was upset by Air Force but then ran the table and joined the big boys with a big six bowl invite. Naturally they upset Arizona since the Fiesta Bowl has been their home away from home with numerous bowl wins. 16 starters return in ’15, but they lose a 71% QB and a RB who ran for over 1,800 yards and scored 32 TD’s. Boise would like to make it two for two in big boy bowl invites.
UNLV finished with exactly two wins in seven of the last nine years prior to their seven win season in ’13. No one expected a return to the bowl season in ’14 but 2-11 was embarrassing. The warning signs were everywhere. Their QB (62% 24-5 ratio) was gone. The run D was 5.25-226 in ’13, and worse if you include the bowl game result. They couldn’t even reach my projected 4-9 record and the staff was fired even though they had just received extensions! Tony Sanchez is well known in Las Vegas but only at the high school level (six straight State titles). Welcome to the NCAA.
College football politics can be strange, and in my eyes, sometimes humorous. Houston wins eight games and fires their HC. Florida and Nebraska also fired coaches who took their respective teams to multiple bowl games. On the other hand, Illinois, Indiana and Virginia had every reason to fire their coaches after multiple years of mediocrity and did not. Hawaii lost nine games in ’14. Norm Chow got a stay of execution. Can he make the most of this opportunity?
Ron Caragher had a good run at UCSD and his debut here in ’13 was more good than bad until losing three times late in the season, all when favored. Finishing with a huge upset over Fresno St was supposed to give them confidence entering ’14. All losses were well deserved. The wins were vs. North Dakota, Wyoming (overtime) and UNLV. This is year #3. Is Caragher sitting on a comeback season or is he and his staff in over their heads?
Brian Polian (son of Bill, the man who never drafted for defense) took over in ’13 when Chris Ault retired for the 3rd and last time. His initial campaign was tough, but 7-5 last year was what I expected. The coaching staff might have to earn its keep in year #3 with long time QB Cody Fajardo gone.
How did 11-1 turn into 6-7 (6-8 counting their bowl loss)? Obviously the graduation of QB Carr was going to have an effect but Fresno made very few game changing plays and actually needed to win their final three games just to get to 6-6. Fresno hopes ’14 was rock bottom and that ’15 will be the start of a long run at or near the top of the conference.