It’s Air Force’s turn to take on seemingly invincible BYU Saturday 1pm MT in Provo, Utah. The Cougars have mauled every opponent so far this season – Central Washington, Washington, Old Puget Sound Beach, Penn State, Missouri, the Denver Barbarians and Arizona State.
If the Zoomies come within 40 points of BYU, they’ll have given the Cougars the closest game against a college opponent they’ve had this season. Air Force coach Joe Muehlbauer knows the task that lies ahead of his team.
“That’s why we come to the Academy, really, is for a challenge, and this is a huge challenge. They’re the best team in the country. I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s a huge challenge the guys are up for,” he said.
“We test ourselves all the time in different ways. This is going to be a big test, so all hands are on deck. We’re looking forward to it.”
BYU’s biggest assets are its biggest assets, literally. They have two big, bruising props in Ray Forrester and Mike Sua, who anchor a powerful pack. Air Force has a little bit of force, too, like senior loosehead Leroi Edwards.
“He’s one of our captains, a really good leader, a tough guy,” said Muehlbauer of Edwards. “He doesn’t back down from anything, and that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the team.”
Edwards and the rest of the Air Force pack will have to have a big afternoon to beat BYU, but the Zoomies aren’t going to play the game in the Cougars’ wheelhouse.
“You don’t want to play to other team’s strengths. We want to play to our strength, which is speed and fitness. We have a pretty big pack this year, but speed and fitness is our game, and we want to utilize that, stay away from their strength, which is their power,” said Muehlbauer.
“David’s a really good coach, they don’t make mistakes, but if they make a mistake we’ve got to jump on it, because they don’t make many. We’ve got to force them.”
Zoomie flyhalf Pat Murphy will also have to play well this weekend if Air Force is to contend. He’ll be needed to help tackle BYU ball carriers like Hoseki Kofe, Dylan Lubbe and Ryan Roundy, as well as turn around BYU’s big pack with his boot and move it away from the Cougar forwards with his hands.
“He played really well against Arizona, distributing the ball,” said Muehlbauer of Murphy. “He’s a really good defender for a 10. Not to disparage 10s, but he’ a really good defender at the 10 spot.”