TCU is getting most of the attention at the Mountain West’s media days – that happens when a team gets all 31 preseason first-place votes – but Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson is interested in Air Force.
More specifically, Patterson wants to see if Air Force can beat BYU on Sept. 11 and possibly break TCU, BYU and Utah’s stranglehold on the top three spots in the conference.
“One of the games you have to watch closely, because it’s early in the year and BYU has a young quarterback, is the BYU game against Air Force – and it’s at Air Force,” Patterson said. “You’ve got an experienced Air Force team, BYU is on the road and it’s a tough place to play anyway. See how that game turns out. If Air Force can win that ballgame, that gives them an unbelievable confidence level going into the rest of their season. I’m glad we’re playing them at home.”
Air Force’s game against BYU is the Falcons’ second game of the season. BYU could start true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps, and while he’s talented, it might benefit the Falcons to catch him early in the season. BYU is rebuilding a bit, with only two first-team All-MWC preseason selections. Air Force has its own holes to fill early in the season, so the timing of the BYU game is interesting.
“Both teams will have some guys that haven’t played significantly,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “It does make for a different dynamic than if you did play in Week 10 or Week 11.”
Patterson thought there were some teams other than TCU, BYU and Utah that could break into the top three of the Mountain West and thought Air Force was a prime candidate. Even more than his team’s close win at Air Force last year, it was the Falcons’ win over Houston in their bowl game that opened Patterson’s eyes.
“I thought Houston was a good football team,” Patterson said. “To do what they did to Houston was very interesting.”