LAST WEEK: Air Force stretched its record to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in the Mountain West with a 38-17 victory over Colorado State. The victory was a great all around team effort by the Falcons. The Air Force offense was clicking on all cylinders. Freshman Asher Clark had his breakout game with 136 yards at a dominant 8.5 yards per carry and a couple of scores. Freshman QB Tim Jefferson was brutally efficient under center completing 6 of 8 passes for 171 yards and two scores. The offensive highlight for the Falcons was a 74 yard TD pass from Jefferson to sophomore WR-Z Kyle Halderman that put Air Force ahead for good. On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons recovered from a rough first half by not giving up a second half point. Sophomores Reggie Rembert and Ken Lamendola each tallied an interception for the Falcons. Coach Troy Calhoun put a classy end to the in-state rivalry game by kneeling on the ball after the Air Force offense had driven inside the CSU 10 yard line. %%MATCH_21%% moved to 9-1 this season and 5-1 in the conference as they took their turn beating on the hapless SDSU Aztecs 41-12. WR Austin Collie continued to add to his remarkable season with another nine catches for 127 yards and two more scores. The Cougar offense got a lot of help from their defense, which forced four takeaways on the day and quickly squashed any dim thoughts of an SDSU upset.
When Air Force has the ball: Air Force has had a lot of success in recent weeks using the run to set-up the pass. Air Force does not throw much, but when they do throw, it is almost a guaranteed big play against defenses that are doing everything they can to stop the Falcon rushers. Air Force's passing game ranks 19th in passing efficiency and has managed twelve scores versus only four interceptions. Since taking over as starting QB for Air Force, Tim Jefferson has run the complex offense with an intelligence that belies his age. Jefferson should get some opportunities for big plays off of play action, as Air Force's fourth ranked rush offense should have plenty of success against the 50th ranked rush defense of BYU. In the backfield for the Falcons, Asher Clark and a tandem of fullbacks, Todd Newell and Jared Tew, get the bulk of the carries. The bad news for the Cougar defense is that both Clark and the Air Force fullbacks have been running harder as the season progresses. Against CSU, Newell averaged 4.6 ypc, and Tew averaged 5 ypc on ten attempts. If the Cougars can't hold the Air Force fullbacks under four ypc, they will have a tough time getting the Air Force offense off the field. Furthermore, the BYU defensive line must get enough penetration to enable the Cougars to be effective against the rush without having to commit eight men to stopping the run. If the Air Force veteran offensive line of Andrew Pipes, Nick Charles, Keith Williams, Peter Lusk, and Chris Campbell continue to create rushing lanes, then the 63rd ranked BYU pass defense could be victimized when Air Force decided to air it out.
When BYU has the ball: Air Force counters BYU's 8th ranked passing attack with the nations 10th ranked passing defense. However, Air Force's high ranking in pass defense is perhaps a little misleading. True, the play of the Air Force secondary has improved since the arrival of defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and cornerback coach Charlton Warren. However, if the Falcons cannot get to Hall, the corners and safeties will be in trouble against the likes of Collie and Dennis Pitta. Fortunately for the Falcons, their defensive line, anchored by seniors Jake Paulson and Ryan Kemp, is arguably the best in the conference. Nevertheless, they are undersized compared to BYU's huge offensive line. Therefore, Air Force will need effective blitz packages in order to level the playing field. Though BYU has shown an impressive passing game, their rushing game has not been able to get on track to help add balance. BYU has the nation's 81st ranked rushing offense, and their problems with the running game have been compounded with the announcement that their marquee running back Harvey Unga is questionable against Air Force.
Outlook: If Air Force can pressure Max Hall the entire game, Air Force will have a good chance of pulling the upset. If not it could get ugly fast for the Falcons. Both teams will score their points so this game could very well come down to turnover differential.