Know Wyoming’s foe: Air Force Falcons
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl didn't mince words when talking about Wyoming's Friday night opponent during his weekly press conference.
"My assessment, this is the best Air Force team that I've seen in the nine years since I've been the Cowboy football coach."
From a man that doesn't subscribe to hyperbole, that's quite a statement.
Here's some of what he is talking about:
The Falcons (2-0) lead the nation in rushing after just two games, averaging better than 508 yards per outing. The next closest team is Minnesota. The Gophers are rolling up 302. Air Force ranks No. 18 in the nation in scoring offense, chalking up 44.5 points per game in blowout victories over Northern Iowa and in-state rival, Colorado.
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Not a surprise, Wyoming's Front Range rival also sits fourth in the FBS in time of possession. That's roughly 36 minutes of ball control.
"You know, I would say their running game -- as an old defensive coordinator -- scares you to death," Wyoming's head coach added on Monday. "It's like a hot knife going through butter. Their numbers are phenomenal."
The Falcons' vaunted triple-option attack, led by quarterback Haaziq Daniels and fullback Brad Roberts, is indeed scary, but their defense isn't lagging too far behind.
* No. 3 in third-down conversions allowed (3-of-19)
* No. 26 in first downs allowed (29)
* No. 29 in passing yards allowed per game (168.5)
* No. 16 in red-zone defense (5 attempts, 2 TDs, field goal)
* No. 29 in points allowed per game (13)
* No. 31 in total defense (283.5 ypg, 3 TDs)
Not too shabby, huh?
"I'm really impressed with their tackling ability and their pursuit angles," Bohl said. "They are well-disciplined guys and are always in the right spot. You know, if there's a run that pops, it doesn't pop for very long. If there's a pass thrown and it's completed, guys come back at a great angle. So they're really disciplined, which does not surprise you."
Here are some other things you need to know about Wyoming's Week-3 meeting with Air Force:
* Head coach: Troy Calhoun (16th year at AFA) 113-75 overall record
* Offensive coordinator: Mike Thiessen (9th year); Defensive coordinator: Brian Knorr (1st year)
* Record in 2021: 10-3 overall, 6-2 in Mountain West Conference
* Offense in 2022: Averaged 44.5 ppg, 567 ypg (508.5 rush, 58.5 pass)
* Defense in 2022: Allowed 13 ppg, 283.5 ypg (115 rush, 168.5 pass)
* Key Returners - Offense: Haaziq Daniels (QB - 4-11, 117 yds, TD; 21 rush, 136 yds, 2 TD), Brad Roberts (FB - 32 rushes, 288 yds, 4 TD), John Lee Eldridge III (RB - 16 rushes, 173 yds, TD), Isaac Cochran (OL), Dane Kinamon (WR - 2 catches, 88 yds, TD)
* Key Returners - Defense: Vince Sanford (LB - 5 tackles, PBU), Trey Taylor (S - 12 tackles, PBU), TD Blackmon (LB - 9 tackles, FF), Alec Mock (LB - 8 tackles, fumble recovery), Michael Mack (CB - 8 tackles, 2 PBU, FR), Jayden Goodwin (S - 7 tackles, FF), Camby Goff (7 tackles, 3 PBU, 2 INT)
* Overview: This veteran Air Force squad appears to be the best team in the Mountain West through two games. Daniels, once again, has the trademark option clicking early and often. Roberts, who rushed for 1,356 yards in 2021 (third best single season in Academy history), is already gashing opponents to the tune of nine yards per carry. Not known to have success through the air -- Daniels is just 4-of-11 so far for 117 yards and a score -- Wyoming fans know all too well that can change in a hurry. With the game tied at 14-14 to begin the third quarter inside Falcon Stadium last October, Daniels came out slinging, completing 7-of-10 throws for 110 yards and a touchdown in the 24-14 victory. The visitors had no answers. Defensively, this experienced unit brings back a ton of talent, led by linebacker Vince Sanford, who was voted to the First Team All-Mountain West Preseason squad. Is there a weakness on this team? It sure doesn't appear so.
* Thoughts on Air Force: "Obviously, when you look at these numbers -- eight yards per play -- you better stop the run. We got to stop a lot of things. This is a short week. I know coach Calhoun, he was lamenting a little bit, saying 'geez, we have to play Wyoming on a short week.' I go, 'good luck, buddy.' We're playing them on a short week ... There's not one thing that they have not seen through the years that you're going to out-scheme them. You really have to be able to out-execute them, tackle the run when it's there and defend the pass ... We try to do everything we can to replicate the look that you get, but many times it's not until probably the second quarter that things start to distill and you calm down because of the speed of what they're able to operate at. So it's a real challenge. And when you look at these numbers, numbers don't lie ... I can tell you this, for me, as an old defensive coach -- and we have good defensive coaches here -- this harkens back to, you know, the 70s and 80s. I can remember as a young player, we're getting ready to play Bear Bryant and (Alabama) ran the wishbone. It's way different though. This is like, take that and put it on steroids. I mean, they really are well coached." -- Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl
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