122020-s-broncosbills 05.JPG

Bills quarterback Josh Allen evades the clutches of Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb during the first quarter of a game at Empower Field at Mile High on SSaturday, Dec. 19, 2020. The Bills beat the Broncos 48-19. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

LAS VEGAS – The preseason polls didn’t show much respect for Air Force – no individuals received mention on the Preseason All-Mountain West Team and the Falcons were picked behind Boise State and Wyoming in the Mountain Division – but conversing with league players and coaches painted a different picture.

“It was huge because I thought they were the best we played the year before,” said San Jose State's Brent Brennan, reflecting on a victory over Air Force in the Spartans’ season opener as they then made a march to a conference championship in 2020.

Boise State defensive back Kekaula Kaniho said, “We know every single year they are just as likely to beat us as we are them.”

Nevada linebacker Lawson Hall said Air Force “is always a lingering thought in the back of your mind” when the Falcons are on the schedule, as they are this year for the Wolf Pack.

“It makes you a better coach to play Air Force,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said, “and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

And while Air Force’s scheme and discipline attracted most of the talk from opponents, as it generally does, there was also discussion about how the body types the Falcons have no longer make them feel like a typical undersized service academy.

“It doesn’t feel that way when you play them,” Brennan said. “It doesn’t look that way when you’re playing them and looking out on the field.”

San Diego State stadium still off limits

Opponents won’t get a peek at San Diego State’s new football stadium until the 2022 season. And even the Aztecs coach hasn’t gotten all the looks he wants up to this point.

Brady Hoke said he and his wife tried to take photos of the still-under-construction stadium in the spring and were ushered away.

“The gate was open, so we snuck in,” Hoke said. “Security came and kicked me out.”

Recruiting still not back to normal

The long recruiting dead period caused by COVID-19 has ended, but league coaches have only been able to meet with recruits on campus through visits and camps as in-home visits haven’t returned.

“It’s understated what it’s like to go into someone’s house and see kind of the culture of the family,” UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo said, “or how they treat their mom. Little things like that you can kind of pick up on that aren’t the end-all be-all but are a part of it.”

NFL star lends a hand at alma mater

Wyoming’s efforts to improve its quarterback play have included simplifying some of their offensive concepts and enlisting of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Allen, the former Cowboys quarterback, joined the current Wyoming quarterbacks recently via Zoom and talked for an hour and a half.

“Think about that, here’s our guys talking to Josh Allen,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “Josh doesn’t do a lot of things, but here he was helping our guys out.”

Load comments