Grading the Week: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun continues to run circles around his Colorado counterparts — literally

The triple-option offense is a curveball every defensive coordinator sees coming — but still can’t hit.

And it’s one of the primary reasons the Grading the Week staff hold an undying affinity for Troy Calhoun’s Air Force Falcons.

Troy Calhoun — A

The box score from Air Force’s 48-14 rout of UNLV at Falcon Stadium on Friday says it all.

The Falcons ran 69 offensive plays, gained 511 yards, scored six touchdowns … and didn’t attempt a single pass.

That, dear readers, is a work of art. Frame it and auction it off as an NFT. And while you’re at it, maybe consider shipping it north to the three other major college football programs in the Centennial State. Because that sort of dominance hasn’t been seen at CU, CSU or Northern Colorado in quite a while.

With Friday’s blowout victory, the Falcons closed out the regular season with a 9-3 record overall. That’s nine wins in 12 games — or one short of CU, CSU and UNC combined (10) with a bowl game left to play.

Just two years ago, Calhoun was rumored to be a candidate for CU’s head coaching vacancy after Mel Tucker bolted for B1G cash. His candidacy was met with a collective yawn from Buffs faithful, though Calhoun’s Falcons have nearly four times as many bowl bids (11) as CU (3) during his 15-year tenure.

No doubt, visions of triple-option Saturdays at Folsom Field clouded CU fans’ minds.

To which we say this: Things could be much, more worse. Like, say, the 2021 Buffs offense.

Nuggets injuries — F

Hello darkness, my old friend. It’s painful to see you visiting the Nuggets once again.

But here we are, mourning the loss of yet another player to a season-ending injury (guard P.J. Dozier, ACL tear) while anxiously awaiting word on whether or not another (forward Michael Porter Jr., back) will suffer the same fate.

With even the indefatigable Nikola Jokic missing games to a wrist injury, and Jamal Murray months away from re-joining the team after suffering an ACL tear of his own last spring, it’s starting to feel like this season is already lost.

While the Nuggets are still near locks to reach the postseason for a fourth straight year — there’s no way a Jokic-led squad finishes outside the Western Conference top 10 — it’s hard to imagine them making any noise when they get there.

If that’s the case, that leaves us pondering yet another depressing thought: Under those circumstances, should Denver even consider rushing Murray back before the playoffs this season?

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Sadly, the answer to that is probably no. Which means we could be another 10 months until we see Jamal play again.

Hello darkness, indeed.

George Paton — B

With every move he makes, general manager George Paton inches closer to the outcome everyone in Broncos Country has wanted since Peyton Manning left the building: A new franchise QB in Orange and Blue.

In the final analysis, the contract extensions given to receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick this week will be a win if, and only if, they convince a true QB1 (hello, Russell Wilson) to set up shop at Empower Field.

We’ve seen what Sutton and Patrick can do with middle-of-the-road quarterbacks. And it’s not near enough to break a playoff drought that dates back to 2016.

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