PREP BASKETBALL

The Wyoming Cowboys hosted the Air Force Falcons in college football on Friday, September 16, 2022 at War Memorial Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Air Force is ready to rebound.

The Falcons return to Falcon Stadium at 6 p.m. Friday as 24-point favorites against Nevada and eager to return to the trajectory that they had before stumbling last week in a 17-14 loss at Wyoming.

“Last week we were really upset after the game, but we processed it and scraped it because you can’t let that linger on for this week’s game,” tight end Kyle Patterson said. “New opponent. It happened. Just scratch it and move on.”

The Falcons (2-1, 0-1 Mountain West) are 7-2 following their last nine losses, dating back to the final two weeks of the 2018 season. And this would seem to be the ideal team to get right against.

Nevada lost coach Jay Norvell to Colorado State and 11 players to the transfer portal after last season.

The Wolf Pack (2-2, 0-0) have a loss to an FCS team (Incarnate Word) in which they gave up 55 points. Their offense ranks 119th nationally in total yards and the defense is 86th. And this is after playing just one of their first four games against a team rated by Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings inside the top 112.

To make matters worse, Nevada is on a short week after finishing a game at 1:39 a.m. in Iowa early Sunday and traveling back to the Pacific Time Zone before coming this week for a Friday game in Colorado.

Running back Toa Taua knows the overall picture, but he dared anyone to bet against the Wolf Pack when speaking to The Gazette this summer.

“Nevada’s not going anywhere,” he said. “With everybody leaving and the coaching change, it just installed a new fire under us.”

The loss at Wyoming appears to have done the same for the Falcons. Media is not allowed to attend practice (with the exception of the first half hour on Tuesday), but reports were of spirited sessions this week. Air Force knows about its history of close games against Nevada (each of the past five meetings has gone to overtime or been decided by a field goal).

But more than general motivation, the Falcons took some practical lessons from its loss to Wyoming – particularly on the defensive side after several second-effort plays for the Cowboys contributed in helping them secure the game.

“I think it forced us to kind of take a step back and look at what kind of team we are, who we are,” defensive lineman Kalawai’a Pescaia said.

“The culture and identity that we’ve built for ourselves over the years is the swarming to the ball. All 11 guys around the ball every play. Pursuit. Effort. Everything. Always going for the ball. That’s what we always practice every day and that’s something we kind of strayed away from during the game. That’s something that our coaches and us as players we identified after the game that something we do every game, because that’s what gives us our edge.”

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