WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Brent Briggeman, who covers Air Force football for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., about Saturday night’s game with the University of Wyoming.
Look for Q&As with beat writers that cover UW football opponents every week throughout the season.
Air Force has struggled on defense in its last two games — losses to Utah State and Boise State — where it was outscored 94-40. What is the problems defensively, or is it more that Utah State and Boise State are that good on offense?
The Falcons have been slow to adjust to particular schemes. Against Utah State, quarterback Chuckie Keeton was able to break the pocket and then wait and see if Air Force’s defensive backs were going to stay in coverage, in which case he would run. When defensive backs would break coverage, he would hit open receivers. Air Force never figured out the best plan to stop him. Against Boise State, the bubble screens — quick-hitting passes to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage — accounted for 17 of the pass completions (on 17 attempts) and routinely went for 6-10 yards. Both of those teams executed extremely well and will have success against most teams, but Air Force’s inability to react certainly played a part.
What are your impressions of sophomore quarterback Jaleel Awini, and how is he different than previous Air Force quarterbacks in its run-oriented offense.
Awini’s skill set is as good as Air Force has seen at the position in a long time. He has a legitimate Division I arm, which many at the academy have lacked, and the speed and power to run the option. If he can continue to improve, he’ll be a good one.
What is coach Troy Calhoun like this week when asked about the tirade Wyoming coach Dave Christensen had towards him at the end of last year’s game in Laramie? And, is that a factor among the team going into this game?
Calhoun understands how to handle the media and how to address or not address topics he doesn’t want to discuss. He has deflected all talk about that incident. Players have talked about it and how the incident has added to the rivalry, but I don’t see it playing a legitimate factor in the outcome.
What do you see from Wyoming on paper that could give Air Force fits on Saturday night?
The offense. With a veteran, multi-dimensional athlete like Brett Smith at quarterback who will be able to interpret Air Force’s schemes and exploit weaknesses, this could be another long week for the Air Force defense.
How do you see this game playing out? Does Wyoming win with Smith, or does Air Force get its first conference win?
I don’t like to get into predictions, mostly because I’m really bad at it. Air Force must do some things differently than it has in recent weeks, particularly when it comes to aggressively defending the edges. If they can do that without compromising the deep part of the field, it could be a great game. The Falcons offense certainly has it in it to keep the game close, even if the defense again struggles.
Game: Wyoming (2-1 overall, 0-0 MW) at Air Force (1-2, 0-2)
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Falcon Stadium, Air Force Academy, Colo.
Radio: KFBC (1240 AM) Cheyenne; KOWB (1290 AM) Laramie