"It's always defend the pass first for us and not let anything go over the top of coverage," said Cougar corner Brandon Bradley. "We know Air Force will be running the ball most of the time, but they'll try some things deep and we have to defend that, so it's a bit different this week that they'll be running almost all the time, but our main responsibility is still not to let anything go deep."
Easier said than done, as Air Force will try to burn a defense deep after presenting a type of run barrage that will try to get defensive backs to creep ever forward in readying themselves for the expected run.
And running the football is exactly what defenders can expect from Air Force so far this season. The Falcon offense has rushed 622 times while only throwing the ball a total of 90 times so far this season. Indeed, most of those 90 passes were well over 10 yards, as Air Force will take their shots down the field if the occasion presents itself.
"We know they're going to be running about 80 percent of the time, but we have to be ready for everything, so that's a challenge," said Bradley. "It's just like most games, although Air Force will be running it a lot more."
In defending against the Air Force triple option, Cougar coaches have long preached the same relevant points to defending against any defense. Should the Cougars remain assignment-sound in their containment and gap assignments, they'll be fine. If not, then they'll struggle just as they would against any other offense.
"It's all about keeping assignments," mentioned Bradley. "It's important every week for sure, but especially against Air Force you have to be assignment-sound."
Being assignment-sound has been the main component that has led to BYU's defensive success against Air Force in recent years. Indeed, one could well argue that BYU's very conservative zone-heavy 3-4 alignment is the perfect defense to defend against the triple option, should players maintain and complete their gap and containment assignments.
Most defensive players relish the opportunity to go against a team intent on running the football. Air Force presents a physical challenge that will make the Cougar defensive backs play more like linebackers in most instances.
"I haven't gone against Air Force, but I've played offenses like them before and I love it," said Bradley. "I love to hit and knock guys back and I'll get a lot of chances to do that this week. I love teams that take it right to you like Air Force does and I'll be ready for it."
Bradley will be ready for it, as he's practicing fully this week now that his shin feels fine. His shin prevented him from practicing for the better part of last week during preparation for San Diego State, but that is certainly not the case this week.
"I feel fine," said Bradley. "It still hurts a bit, but it's no big deal. I've been practicing fully and I'll be ready for this game. I'm excited for this matchup."
Monday's practice saw both Bradley and Andrew Rich play at cornerback with the first team, in addition to Brandon Howard assuming his starting role at field corner. So what combination of corners will BYU use most come Saturday?
"I really don't know how much or where I'll be playing most," answered Bradley. "They just want to get us all ready for any situation. Sometimes I'm in there with Andrew Rich and sometimes with Brandon Howard. I really don't know what coaches are planning come Saturday, but we'll be ready to do what they ask of us."