BYU vs. Air Force: The Breakdown

BYU comes into this game rolling while Air Force is looking to rebound from a upset loss to San Diego State. A win for the Cougars puts them in the driver's seat for the conference championship. A win for the Falcons puts them back in the title hunt. The G-man breaks down the positions and gives his thoughts on what to expect from today's game.


Air Force: The Falcons will start a good one in Shaun Carney, who averages 72. 7 yards rushing per game as he leads the Air Force triple-option attack. Carney is also fourth in the Mountain West Conference in pass efficiency with a rating of 138.7.

BYU: Beck's increased level of play continued last week against UNLV. Beck was named the national player of the week by Cingular for his performance, and no quarterback in the country is playing as well as the Cougar signal-caller right now.

Conclusion: Carney is one of the better option quarterbacks Air Force has had in recent years. He is good at throwing the ball and runs the triple-option as effectively as you would expect from an Air Force quarterback. With that said, there is no QB in the country the who should get the edge over Beck right now.

Edge: BYU

Running Backs:

Air Force: The Falcons will be led by Chad Hall who comes into the game as the leading rusher in the MWC at 81.3 yards per game. Beau Suder and Ty Paifeit will also see time. At fullback the Cadets will go with Ryan Williams and Jacobe Kendrick. Williams is eighth in the MWC in rushing averaging just over 51 yards per game and Kendrick has a 5.3 yards per carry average..

BYU: Curtis Brown will be joined again by Fui Vakapuna after Vakapuna sat out last week's game with a high ankle sprain. When healthy, Brown and Vakapuna when healthy pose the most daunting running back duo in the conference. Oh, Brown also had 219 yards rushing against Air Force last season.

Conclusion: The Falcons sport several very effective backs as usual, but also usual, they are not guys who can blow a game open. On the other hand, BYU's backs are game breakers.

Edge: BYU


Air Force: The Falcons' offense obviously does not feature their receivers and tight ends much as traditional offenses. Vic Thompson is the Falcon's leading receiver with a mere 10 catches on the year.

BYU: BYU's collection of receivers and tight ends have proven to be the most productive group in the conference. It is a featured position in BYU's offense.

Conclusion: It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

Edge: BYU

Offensive Line:

Air Force: The Falcons' offensive line averages 280 pounds, which is far bigger than the line Air Force usually sends into battle. Each starter has over two years experience and has been effective throughout the year.

BYU: BYU's offensive line has had to scramble over the course of the year due to injuries. Now they are set with what will likely be the starting line fore the rest of the year.

Conclusion: Both lines have been effective all year. Both bring a lot of experience with Air Force getting the slight edge in that category. BYU's OL has led to greater offensive productivity however.

Edge: BYU

Defensive Line:

Air Force: The Falcons are giving up 128.5 yards per game on the ground while accounting for 11 sacks. It is a unit led by Gilberto Perez, who was number one in tackles for loss at Air Force a season ago. Perez has battled injuries throughout the year, but comes into the BYU game healthy.

BYU: The Cougars took a hit when Ian Dulan broke his ankle earlier this week. The Cougar defensive line has held opponents to just 108.3 yards per game while producing just eight sacks so far this season.

Conclusion: The Falcon's DL has proved effective throughout the year by putting up some respectable defensive stats. The Cougar defensive line has been productive as well although their pass rush could be better.

Edge: Push


Air Force: The Falcon's 3-3-5 system will be led in the middle by Drew Fowler who ranks third in the MWC in tackles.

BYU: The Cougars are fully healthy again now that Markell Staffieri has been playing in two straight games.

Conclusion: The Falcon set of linebackers are not bad, but BYU's backers are the best in the conference.

Edge: BYU


Air Force: The Falcon secondary has held opponents to under 200 yards per game through the air. They give up less than 200 yards per game passing, but they have not played a prolific passing attack since Tennessee. Also, Air Force is dead last in the conference in pass efficiency defense. Opposing quarterbacks average a rating of 153.8 against the Cadets.

BYU: The Cougar secondary gives up 40 more passing yards per than Air Force, albeit against better passing attacks. BYU's effectiveness in today's game will be determined by how well they guard against the play-action pass and how well the tackle.

Conclusion: While the Falcons have allowed fewer yards through the air than BYU, the teams they faced have been less impressive in regards to passing prowess. Also, opposing QBs get more done with fewer yards against Air Force.

Edge: Push

5 Predictions

1. BYU will gain over 200 yards rushing for the second week in a row

Now that Fui Vakapuna is back, the Cougars should mount their best collective running effort of the season to this point. There has been talk of Air Force dropping most of their defense in coverage throughout the game, which will lead to a romp for the Cougar running backs.

2. Air Force will throw the kitchen sink at the Cougars

Trick plays, fake kicks, onsides kicks, quick kicks and whatever else could be thrown at BYU tomorrow. This is a game head coach Fisher DeBerry has been hyping up and they will bring their best and most creative effort.

3. John Beck will riddle the Falcon secondary

Beck is in a zone, and that will continue tomorrow. While the Air Force secondary has not been bad, they have not faced an offensive arsenal like the Cougars. Beck will be able to take consistent advantage of the Falcon's secondary.

4. BYU will hold the option in check throughout the game

Air Force has historically taken advantage of poor and improper preparation against their unusual offensive attack. BYU's coaches have been there and done that in regards to defending the Air Force triple option. Furthermore, the Cougar outside linebackers are the fastest BYU has had in years, which will limit Air Force's effectiveness on the edges.

Air Force will dominate the time of possession. BYU will dominate the scoreboard

BYU will score often and quickly with each possession. Air Force is well on their way to their traditional late-season wear-down. This game will resemble last year's game at LaVell Edwards stadium.

Top Three

The top three offensive performers for BYU on offense other than John Beck will be Curtis Brown, Fui Vakapuna and Jonny Harline.

Final Score: BYU 48 Air Force 28


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