Breaking News
More () »

Q&A with Air Force reporter Richie Cozzolino

Washington State takes on Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl in Friday

PHOENIX — Q: What do WSU fans need to know about Air Force's triple option?

A:Well, it'll weigh you down. I'll say that. They run the ball with impunity-- 200, 300 yards a game on the ground is nothing unusual for Air Force, but that's the triple option. Air Force, Army and Navy had the top three rushing offenses in the country so they should be aware of that. They should also be concerned with the dive play. The fullbacks are more involved in the triple option than you might think. Taven Birdo has had hundred yard games three different times this season. Right up the gut. You think it would be pretty easy to stop, but that's not always the case.

Q: Is there a player in particular that you think is an “X Factor” player for this Air Force squad?

A: It'd be hard not to say DJ Hammond. He's a senior quarterback on Air Force. He obviously runs the triple option and updates it. He says where the ball’s going inside the field. DJ can also throw the ball very well. He had a 300 yard game. No Air Force quarterback has done that in 20 years I think, so it's not unusual for Air Force to step back in play action to throw the ball and DJ is very good at that.

Q: Speaking of passing, how has this defense done against the past this year because obviously WSU, the exact opposite of Air Force in terms of offense. 

A: Washington State's offense against Air Force’s defense is going to be interesting. Air Force plays a lot of the rushing game defense very well because they play teams like Army and Navy, so they're passing defensive stats I think might be skewed a little bit. They are relatively good right now but Washington State might break them down. This is going to be their toughest test. We were talking to some of the guys at the press conference today about whether it would be difficult for them constantly with linebackers having to drop back into coverage. It will be interesting to see. I don't think they've played a Pac-12 team, or any team, that throws the ball as prolifically as Washington State does.

Q: How would you contrast Troy Calhoun, Air Force’s head coach, to Mike Leach?

A: I’ve gotta be careful with me words here. Stoic, he's a stoic guy. He's everything you'd want out of a head coach of a military academy. He's a very rah rah kind of guy. He's a players first coach, but he doesn't give you a lot to work with. Compared to, of course, Mike Leach, the ultimate character behind the mic. Troy Calhoun when you get to know him, he's a great guy, but he does have a bit of a shell up when it comes to getting behind the mic and talking to you.

RELATED: Washington State football team visits Phoenix kids ahead of Cheez-It Bowl

RELATED: WSU's Anthony Gordon has chance at school and NCAA records in Cheez-It Bowl

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out