‘That’s who we play this week’
LARAMIE -- Troy Calhoun sarcastically scoffed at the idea that Wyoming's offense is simplistic, focusing solely on running the football under Craig Bohl's leadership.
"I'm trying to think -- they had a quarterback there that I don't know if that was always their emphasis," Air Force's head coach said with a grin, referring to current Buffalo Bills signal caller, Josh Allen. "... I don't know if that quarterback was drafted in the first eight picks or seven picks in the (NFL) draft because that was the case, I think.
"He did have some good carries."
Yes, Calhoun is well aware the Cowboys love to run the football.
No, he doesn't see them as a one-dimensional offense.
That all starts with current quarterback Sean Chambers, who Calhoun said has been "exceptional" over the last few years. Chambers is 13-3 as a starter after leading Wyoming to its first 4-0 start this fall since 1996. He also had a compliment for back-up Levi Williams, who he mentioned is still a freshman but has also suited up for three seasons for the Cowboys.
COVID-19, of course, allowed every FBS team an additional year of eligibility. At the Academy, that's not the case. Calhoun said the buy-in in Laramie is real, that's why the program is returning so many players for a fifth -- and in some cases -- sixth year
"They are experienced to no end," he said of Wyoming. "... So, yeah, a bunch of guys who have been there for quite some time and played really good football, too."
One of those players, still labeled a junior, is running back Xazavian Valladay.
The Cowboys running back led the Mountain West Conference in rushing the past two seasons, amassing 1,815 yards on 346 carries. That's an average of 5.2 yards per tote. Valladay has also proven to be a threat out of the UW backfield in the passing game, hauling in 36 career passes for 482 yards and two touchdowns.
Calhoun has taken notice.
"He has very good hands," he said. "He's powerful. He can go forward, meaning going downhill -- they're committed to going downhill -- but also, anytime they do any of their drop-back stuff, being able to check a ball down to a guy that can make a snag and get seven, eight plus, it truly stretches your defense when they throw it."
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
* Return of Treyton Welch a welcome one for Wyoming
* Pokes, Falcons don't just duke it out on the field
* Cowboys in the NFL: Week 4
* Wyoming's Victor Jones embracing second chance
* Do you consider the Wyoming-Air Force matchup a rivalry game?
Defensively, Calhoun was asked about another guy who is still a junior in the eyes of the NCAA -- Chad Muma.
"He's everywhere," Calhoun said. "You know, he just very stout at the point of attack yet the pursuit angles are about as exact as you can get in terms of the right instincts to take the proper path on perimeter runs. And, golly, I mean he kind of follows through on a line for last time we played them. The guy they had there as an inside linebacker was a pretty darn good player, too."
He's referring to Logan Wilson, the current Cincinnati Bengal who was a member of three straight victories over the Falcons from 2017-19.
Hawk Wimmer, Air Force's senior offensive guard, said Wyoming has always featured a sound defense over the years.
What does he expect from them Saturday?
"They are always a good team and they have good players. They are always fundamentally sound," Wimmer said of the Cowboys. "I think it comes down to just winning our one on ones, following the coaches' game plan and hope for the best -- kind of doing what we do -- play our game and win the game."
A string of 40 straight games between the Pokes and Falcons was snapped last season due to the virus. Air Force leads the all-time series 29-26-3, but Wyoming has won five of the last seven meeting, including two of the last three in Colorado Springs.
These two campuses are less than 200 miles apart. The Cowboys have 13 players on the current roster -- and a pair who are verbally committed to Bohl -- who were once courted by Calhoun and Co. to attend the Academy.
There have been big moments in this series. Championship-deciding games, one-possession contests, epic comebacks and a viral postgame verbal altercation that landed former UW head coach Dave Christensen a $50,000 fine and a one-game suspension, that highlight this series.
But, is it a rivalry?
Bohl says it is and his team is treating it that way.
Calhoun, once again, failed to call this game that word.
"That's who we play this week," he said. "They've really gotten off to a fantastic start and, like I said earlier, they may be the most experienced team in college football."
Falcons free safety Corvan Taylor was also asked if this game fits into that category.
"Obviously we play them every year, they're on our side of the division and they're three hours-ish up the road, so it's kind of a close game," he said. "I don't know if we consider them rivals, but they're a great team every year so we really enjoy playing them and getting that opportunity to play a good team."
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players