This Saturday my grad school alma mater will be playing my undergrad alma mater and as I prepare to enter Michigan stadium in enemy colors(undergrad trumps grad school in my opinion) I figured I’d give a perspective on the game from a fan of both teams.
I’m starting out with this poster for no better reason than I think it’s cool.
For those who missed it the first time around, this is a quick primer I wrote back in the spring explaining how Academy football works and the basics have not changed although I didn’t write enough about Cody Getz at running back(I think he was hurt during the Spring):
Academy traditions at football games(a.k.a. cheers, flyby’s and songs):
First off, the flyby’s. Yes, I expect them to be good given the high profile of this game. Typically the best flyby’s are reserved for the games with the most public/high ranking officer visibility. So as long as the weather isn’t completely awful, we should be set for a strong set of flyby’s with a variety of aircraft. That said these things are unpredictable so don’t hold it against me if all we get is a FedEx 737(this actually happened at one game when I was a cadet). Speaking as a former pilot, flyby’s are fun as hell and I am sure there is a long line of pilots who would LOVE to do a flyover of the Big House. If there’s any interest I can provide a high-level explanation of how a flyby is ,er, um, flown in the comments section.
Typical Cheers(not that I expect these to be heard):
AIR! FORCE! Is the main call and response cheer done between fans on opposite sides of the stadium.
On Academy first downs the Drum and Bugle Corps(better known as Beat and Blow) will play a quick drum beat that the cadets will sing along to saying, “Another Falcon First Down!” on repeat. Those of you sitting close to the cadets should probably expect to wonder if you’re hearing another F-word in place of the Falcon.
After the game:
After every game whether home or away the team will gather in front of either the cadet section or the visitor’s section and sing the third verse of the Air Force song. This is done every game win, lose, or draw and I’m sure Michigan will make every effort to accommodate it. Still if y’all notice someone being a jackwagon at the end of the game about it, please do me a favor and shut them the hell up.
What the Idaho St. game should tell you: Not much that you didn’t already know. The offense will probably provide some trouble for Michigan’s D, the defense is probably going to have its hands full with Denard and co. As others have observed from the highlights of the Idaho St. game some of the giant spaces that Getz, Dietz, and co. are running through against Idaho St. won’t be there against Michigan. However, Air Force is disciplined enough to run the offense without getting a ton of big plays and take what the defense gives them. The D did shut down Idaho St. for the first half and was fairly aggressive, I think the second half “collapse” was reflective of calling off the dogs scheme-wise as well as a young defense losing concentration against a perceived inferior opponent. That said no-one sane expects them to slow down Michigan’s offense very much.
Air Force’s general gameplan for all opponents: On offense run the Triple option, with Wing T concepts, in a hurry up style. Use the run to set up the pass and basically bring in play action to act as a “fourth option”. The offense at its best runs through a quarterback making multiple reads to make individual defenders wrong no matter what they do. This probably sounds familiar. The Defense has a bend but don’t break philosophy in which they try to limit big plays by the opposition and bait the other team into a mistake. While this sounds good in theory and can result in days like the bowl game against Houston in which Air Force made Case Keenum look dumb, in practice it often leads to 3 man rushes against a secondary giving up large cushions. This should also sound familiar. Overall, think a less talented Michigan 2010, but with an offense that’s not as much of a turnover-fest and a defense that is not being run by a stuffed Beaver.
Prediction: I’m starting to think this one will look like a shootout through the first three quarters until Michigan finally pulls away as Air Force’s D just can’t slow Michigan down and Michigan doesn’t make enough mistakes to keep Air Force in the game. Michigan 45- Air Force 31