Aggies offense looks to keep Air Force on its toes
The Aggies know what kind of offense Air Force will show. If the Falcons hold true to their offense for the last few years, they'll run it. A lot.
For the Utah State offense, the opposite will be key: The Aggies hope to keep Air Force off balance when they kick off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"They're one of the most disciplined offenses I've ever seen," center Tyler Larsen said. "You don't see a lot of [missed assignments] with them. So we're going to have to stay one step ahead of them."
The Aggies still feel good about how the offense performed overall last week. Larsen said he thought the team proved they could run the ball, and that Chuckie has some reliable targets. He also added that the no-huddle seemed to keep Utah on its toes.
Expect all of those to come into play next week, especially the uptempo style. The Aggies will be looking to take the lead early and force Air Force to play from behind. The clock-controlling Falcons will try to dictate their own pace, but Utah State will likely have some answers for that.
"We think our no-huddle can be a weapon," Larsen said. "We want to use that to keep defenses scrambling and maybe get a few offsides penalties."
The Aggies also feel good about the size advantage they have in the trenches, with the front of Air Force's 3-4 defense weighing an average of just over 248 pounds - tiny by Division I standards.
Still, that doesn't mean the Aggies take the defense lightly. Although the Falcons didn't have a strong pass rush last year, they've found ways over the last decade to bring pressure with creative and precise blitz packages. And after watching what Chuckie Keeton could do with time in the pocket last week, they're unlikely to leave him alone.
"They'll pressure in certain situations," Matt Wells said. "Both defensive ends are back from last year, and they're aggressive and active. They're a tough, blue collar, hard-nosed bunch that is well-coached."
As much as any other game, Utah State will try to get an early lead to make Air Force play from behind. The Falcons are built to get an early lead and run clock out. But from behind, they'll need to utilize their passing game with new quarterback Jaleel Awini making his first start.
Last week, the Aggies got out to a slow start, spotting Utah an 11-point lead before scoring 20 unanswered points to get ahead. They can't make the same mistake for the second straight week and hope to cruise past Air Force.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon