As Saturday’s game with Air Force approaches, I had the opportunity to interview the Associate Athletic Director of the Air Force Academy, Troy Garnhart. Our discussion will introduce Michigan fans to the Air Force Academy and will focus on things to look out for during Saturday’s game.
Put on your glasses (if you need to), turn up your screens brightness, and pop your collar as we get ready for game day with this week's edition of Behind Enemy Lines.
Josh: Thank you for allowing me to interview you, Troy. As most know, Michigan played Air Force back in 2012... man, what a game that was.
One question that's been on my mind, Troy, is this: What's the biggest difference in the Falcons football program since their last go around in Ann Arbor?
Troy: We are a much younger team this time. We only have five offensive and one defensive starters returning. The system is the same, but younger folks running it.
Josh: What are the Falcons’ greatest strength and weakness?
Troy: Our biggest strength this year are the intangibles — the things you can't teach — that we have, like roughness, never-say-die attitude, grit, and discipline. The biggest weakness right now is our youth on both sides of the ball.
Josh: Which three players should Michigan fans watch out for? Who could have a huge impact on the outcome of the game?
Troy: Our quarterback Arion Worthman, running back Tim McVey, and inside linebacker Grant Ross. All three are tremendous leaders and very productive players.
Josh: For Air Force to win, what has to happen?
Troy: For us to win, we will have to control the ball, and win the time of possession battle. In addition, we will have to play mistake-free the entire game.
Josh: Are Falcons fans happy with the state of the program?
Troy: We believe so. We have been to nine bowl games in 10 years and have one of the top APR scores year in and year out.
Josh: That's great to hear! Does being a service academy have as big of an impact on recruiting as most on the outside believe?
Troy: Yes! We have to find someone who is at the top of his class academically and that is willing to serve his country after graduation.
Josh: What some analysts call "gimmicky offenses" have made their rounds over the past decade. Whether that be the spread option, or even the up-tempo style Chip Kelly's Oregon squads played with. Regardless, their weaknesses were identified and exploited.
It just seems that no matter what defenses throw at a Triple Option team (such as Air Force), they're nearly impossible to stop consistently. So, Troy, my question is: In short, what makes Air Force and the triple option so hard to defend?
Troy: With the system we run, displine is the key. In addition, most teams don't see it from week to week and it's hard to prepare for in a week.
Josh: Your Falcons certainly showed that when they played Michigan the first time, that's for sure!
What is a tradition or fun fact about the Air Force Academy that people outside of the program and fan base -- for the most part -- aren't aware of?
Troy: We have a live performing mascot, the Falcon. It flies at halftime of each of our games and many times at halftime in road games.
Josh: That's impressive. I, myself, love live mascots. We'll get out of here with one last question, and I'll keep it easier than some of my earlier ones.
What is your score, and game prediction for Michigan's matchup against the Air Force Falcons this Saturday?
Troy: It'll be a good game, but I won't give a prediction.
Josh: I was hoping for one! But I understand your position as Associate Athletic Director. I'm hoping for a good game too! I can't wait to see them both take the field Saturday as well.
That’s all for this week. My sincere thanks to Associate Athletic Director Troy Garnhart, who took the time out of his busy schedule so we could accomplish this. As we approach game day, head on over to www.GoAirForceFalcons.com where you can learn even more about this week’s opponent.