The embarrassment and debacle will not be lost on this year's squad anxious to even the score. "Oh yeah, we remember it. It's tough being beat like that, so yeah, we want to show them something this year," defensive leader Jernaro Gilford told reporters today.
Crowton, equally focused, was less confrontational in his remarks, saying "because since the time we lost that game, that is when we lost our confidence."
Indeed, the Cougars were embarrassed 52-9 at the hands of a smaller, but fleet-footed Air Force squad. Crowton is planning not to repeat that exercise.
"The first year I was here, I was worried about them controlling the clock because their offense does a good job of staying on the field and controlling the time of possession, so you have very few possessions. I wanted to make sure all of our possessions counted. I remember on-side kicking after the first or second touchdown and we got the ball back and scored another touchdown and got ahead," Crowton said, adding, "then, if they milk some clock trying to come back, they would be under duress because they're not a passing team. Last year, they did the same thing to us."
Air Force brings its effective triple-option offense that presents unique challenges to the BYU defense. "It's a perimeter game. We're going to try to attack it (the option) from a team standpoint. What they do is they attack the perimeter, so we have to shut down the perimeter… Last year we weren't good on the perimeter," Crowton added.
BYU will defend the vaunted Air Force option Saturday with an entirely different defensive look with defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall's attacking, blitzing style of defense.
"The reverses, the throw-backs to the tackles and double passes they do with the other stuff they do, makes it difficult to be aggressive. But at the same token, if you're not, then it's going to be like last year in which the guy was just running off tackle for eight, 10 and 12 yards every time – and that was very frustrating," Crowton said.
A distinct advantage in defending the option Saturday will be the Cougars ability has to leave Gilford and opposite cornerback Chad Barney on islands to defend one-on-one effectively with their size and speed. "Without giving up too much of the game plan away, that's where it starts (cornerbacks). It tells us how many people we can commit to stopping the run."
* Offensive lineman Ofa Mohetau provided additional clarification on possible LDS mission plans after this season. "I don't know if I feel mature enough to serve a mission at this point or right after the season. I want to serve one, but I want to be ready. I'm thinking that I may play next year and then leave after that. I don't know right now, but I want to be ready when the time comes to serve."
* BYU will be without the services of offensive lineman Vincent Xanthos, who tore his labrum in his shoulder and is likely out for the season. "It's the same shoulder I've had problems with all year and the pain is just getting too much to bear. It's even affecting the way I do household chores, lifting things around the house and stuff," Xanthos said.
He said he will check back with the doctor's in three to four weeks after intensive rehab to determine if surgery is necessary. For the time being, Xanthos just wants to help the team.
"I just want to do whatever is best for the team. If they need me to grin and bear the pain to help them, then I'll do it. But if I can't play effectively with my shoulder the way it is, then I'll sit it out and, hopefully, I'll be granted another year."
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