Cougars to Face Scrappy Air Force Defense

This week the Air Force offense and the unique challenges it presents have been the focus in the minds of both fans and media alike, but what about the Falcon defense? What type of defense is it and what challenges does it present to a Cougar offense that has been humming here of late?

At a glance the Air Force defense could be described as being "average." It's given up an average of 136 yards on the ground and 167 yards through the air. Good offensive teams have been able to exploit Air Force, while the Falcon defense has been able to keep average or bad offenses in check.

So what type of defense has quarterback Max Hall and his teammates seen while watching film this week?

"They play hard," said Max Hall about the Falcon defense. "They blitz hard, they try to put pressure on you and force you to make throws under pressure. Fortunately we're good at that; we're good at picking up blitzes, our offensive line does a fantastic job and we have guys that can win with one-on-one coverage."

Chief among those guys that can win most one-on-one matchups thrown his way is Austin Collie. Collie has risen to become the nation's leading receiver, as he's really been in sync with Hall here of late.

"I think teams really focused on shutting down Dennis [Pitta] and Harvey [Unga]," explained Hall. "Those have been the guys teams have really focused on and that's left Austin in one-on-one matchups, and you can't do that. In the second half San Diego State and Colorado State really focused on Austin and that left more opportunities for Dennis and Harvey, so it's pick your poison with us. Most teams like to stop the middle first and give you the outside, so that's why Austin has been able to do so well. That, and he's just really good."

The Falcons will present their own 3-4 defensive alignment come Saturday that plays a lot like BYU's own 3-4, with perhaps more of a tendency to blitz. The Falcons have toyed with five-defensive back base alignments in recent years, but that is not the case this year, as they stay in their 3-4 base on most occasions.

With their coverages, Air Force will throw it all at Max Hall and company much like other teams have in recent weeks.

"They like to mix it up with cover-two and cover-three and fire zone blitz," said Hall. "They'll throw it all at you. They'll go man once in a while. So, nothing I haven't seen all year. I just have to be ready for it. They like going three down and dropping everyone, but they'll also blitz you and try to catch you off guard with that."

In picking up blitzes, the Cougar offensive front will have to account for defensive end Jake Paulson, who has recorded 14 sacks. The Falcons as a whole have accounted for an impressive 26 sacks on the year and have done a great job catching offenses off guard with their rushes, which have been well-timed and well-executed.

"We know what to do when they blitz," said Hall. "Like I said, our offensive line knows what they're doing and we'll be fine. We have to be ready for everything like we have in most games this year, so that helps us I think. We'll be ready for whatever they throw at us."

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