BYU linebacker Rocky Biegel has issued a challenge to the Air Force offense:
Run at him.All season long, Biegel has watched teams run to the other side of the BYU defense, away from the side manned by him, outside linebacker Alema Fitisemanu and tackle Rich Kaufusi.
Not that the other side of the defense hasn't been good. Linebackers Shad Hansen and Scott Giles and tackles Pete Harston and Eddie Green haven't surrendered many rushing yards, either.
It's just that most BYU opponents have chosen to run right more than left, giving Biegel less than he likes to do.
So, starting today at noon at Falcon Stadium, Biegel is hoping the Falcons come right at him.
"I'd like to bring the challenge on to Air Force to run to our side," Biegel said. "Alema and I can use the tackles."
Biegel says the Air Force offensive system is his favorite. "I love the wishbone," he said. "It's a chance to make some tackles, do some things we haven't had a chance to do against all those one-back offensive teams we've played."
It's a good thing Biegel likes the wishbone, because he's going to see plenty of it. The Falcons rarely pass, and most of their carries have been by the fullbacks - and right at the middle of the defense, where Biegel awaits.
BYU Coach LaVell Edwards has said that stopping the fullback dive is the key to slowing down the wishbone.
"It's our challenge to step up and shut that dive down," Biegel said. "If we stop that dive, force the quarterback to make some quick decisions, maybe some mistakes, I think we can capitalize on them."
The ideal thing for BYU, of course, would be to compel Air Force to pass, something the Falcons haven't been too adept at this season.
Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry has said his team may be forced to throw more this game, but you can bet he's hoping that won't happen. His team has thrown an average of nine passes a game this season, and completed just 35 percent of them.
Air Force is more likely hoping for an assist from the weather that could cause some BYU mistakes. The local forecast is for cold and wind, with some snow.
Edwards is confident his team can handle the cold.
"Cold weather is not a problem," Edwards said. "Of course, that's easy for me to say, dressed up like Santa BYUContinued from D-1
Claus on the sidelines."
What Edwards is more concerned about is wind, no doubt remembering that quarterback Ty Detmer threw five interceptions on a windy day in Eugene, Ore., that led to his team's only loss.
It's worth noting, too, that Detmer has never played a game in the snow - not in high school, not in college.
Detmer downplayed the effect snow might have on BYU's offense, although he acknowledged that it might curtail the passing game. "We might pass for only 100 yards," he said, "and then we'll just run for 400 yards."
Detmer is also aware that, if the wind and snow don't slow him down, the Air Force defense may resort to drastic measures to curtail BYU's passing game.
"We heard that one of their (Air Force's) players said that they are going to have to try something completely different against us, so we don't know what to expect," Detmer said. Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry said the key to stopping BYU is to keep the offense off-balance. That's nothing new, though. It's the same thing New Mexico Coach Mike Sheppard said last week.
The key is having the defensive players to keep the Cougars off-balance, especially in the secondary. The Falcons are rated seventh in the WAC in pass-efficiency defense, just slightly ahead of New Mexico, which Detmer passed against at will.
DeBerry, not relying on the weather, put on a snow job of his own this week, saying that his team probably shouldn't be on the same field as BYU.
"I don't think we match up with BYU talent-wise," DeBerry said. "We're going to have to get lucky."