Air Force is spreading its wings offensively. The triple option isn't all the Falcons do these days. They're also dabbling with a spread offense.
"I really don't know how they get it all practiced. They have so much in their scheme," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted how difficult it is to prepare for everything.
Even so, the Utes spend considerable time gearing up for Air Force's traditional option attack.
"It shows up, and philosophically it's still the basis of what they do," Whittingham said. "(But) it doesn't show up nearly as much as it used to."
Utah's approach on defense, however, isn't changing all that much. Whittingham said the Utes are still going to play assignment football against the Falcons.
And with good reason.
In last week's 10-0 win over Wyoming, Air Force ran the ball 69 times and attempted just five passes, completing one.
"We're a running football team," said Falcons coach Troy Calhoun. "To win at a service academy, you have to be good that way. We may not throw often, but when we do, we have to throw it well."
Tim Jefferson and Connor Dietz have shared duties at quarterback. Calhoun, however, hasn't made it clear which sophomore will start on Saturday.
Junior fullback Jared Tew, a Park City alum, is part of a ground attack that ranks fourth in the nation with 279.3 yards per game.
Defense, though, has been Air Force's calling card this season. The Falcons currently lead the nation in turnover margin (2.43) and rank near the top in scoring defense (11.9 ppg), passing defense (139.1 ypg) and third-down defense.
Whittingham said the Falcons are a good, solid football team.
"They're doing a lot of good things — particularly on defense," he noted. "We'll have our hands full."
Linebacker Andre Morris is tied for the conference lead in forced fumbles, while defensive linemen Ben Garland and Myles Morales are among the leaders in sacks. Defensive back Anthony Wright is another player of note.
"It's going to be a great conference battle. Typically our games with Air Force have gone right down to the wire," Whittingham said. "It's been a great series, and we don't expect anything different this year."
Eleven of the past 12 meetings between the Utes and Falcons have been decided by less than 10 points — including Utah's 30-23 win at the academy last year.
EXTRA POINTS: Air Force leads the all-time series, 14-11. The Falcons are 7-6 in Salt Lake City. … Utah is seeking its 50th win at Rice-Eccles Stadium since the facility was refurbished in 1998. … The U. Varsity Club will hold its reunion at the game. … The women's basketball and volleyball teams will be honored at halftime for their 2008-09 MWC titles.
Utes on the air
Air Force (4-3, 3-1)at No. 19 Utah (5-1, 2-0)
Saturday, 2 p.m.
Radio: 700 AM