WASHINGTON - Give creative offensive-minded coaches like Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Toledo’s Matt Campbell a few days to prepare, and they’ll come up with some fun new wrinkles.
Give those coaches more than a month to prepare, and any offensive trick might be possible in Wednesday’s Military Bowl.
Air Force and Toledo square off at RFK Stadium, and each team has tried to plan for the other’s ploys.
“In practice, we never saw the same thing every day,” Air Force cornerback Anthony Wright said. “It’s always something different."
Toledo employs a lot of read option plays out of spread formations, which gives the Rockets plenty of opportunities to vary their attack. They have multiple variations of their screen passes, for instance. They have also been known to pull out some trick plays, and Air Force has studied the film of every one. But Toledo hasn’t played since Nov. 25, and that’s a lot of time for the coaches to draw up something new.
Each team will be on high alert, but Campbell – who will be coaching his first game after former Toledo coach Tim Beckman left for the job at Illinois earlier this month – said his team won’t get caught up in trying to fool the Falcons.
“Sometimes you can almost do too much in a situation like this,” said Campbell, who added he will be coaching from the press box in order to keep things as normal as possible for the players. “What you have to go back to is what made you successful over the football season.”
Air Force also likes to create some new wrinkles. They’ve run halfback passes, reverses, fake punts, elaborate fake field goals with a third-string quarterback as holder and the holder lined up at kicker, and the Falcons even ran a fumble-rooski play this year. Some of the changes won’t be so obvious – perhaps a new blitz package on defense or a slight change in a blocking scheme for the offense – but each team will use something the opponent hasn’t seen on film.
“It doesn’t hurt to have a couple things that are a little different,” Calhoun said.
That creativity is just part of what makes the Military Bowl a potentially exciting matchup. Both teams like to find new ways to get the ball down field, and each team does that well.
“We have to prepare for those guys the best we can based on what we’ve seen, and just bow our necks and be ready for Toledo,” Wright said. “They’re going to come with some new stuff. And I know we’re going to come with some new stuff, too.”
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