Team preview: Air Force

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


Boasting the third-longest active tenure at one school (behind Penn State's Joe Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden), Falcons head coach Fisher DeBerry has become a pillar of consistency at Air Force.

But entering his 23rd year, he faces his toughest challenge yet as he tries to "get the train back on track" after consecutive losing seasons. The Falcons' 4-7 campaign of last fall and their 5-6 season of 2004 were their first consecutive losing seasons during DeBerry's tenure and their first since the 1980 and '81 seasons. With 17 winning seasons behind him, DeBerry is confident he knows how to get his team to soar again.

"I think the No. 1 thing we've got to do is control the things we've got control of," DeBerry said. "And that's penalties and the ball being on the ground and knowing what to do and not tolerating any busts or anything like that. And being a good fundamental football team. We missed some tackles that cost either possession or very valuable yardage, or even a game last year. And we need to be more persistent and consistent in our fundamental blocking and tackling."

Air Force's inability to solidify its fundamental play contributed to the Falcons finishing 101st in the nation in scoring defense, 99th in total defense and 93rd in turnover margin. The Falcons were eighth, ninth and seventh, respectively, in those areas among Mountain West teams.