Head football coach Gary Patterson began his weekly news conference Tuesday with two words that expressed the focus of the Horned Frogs this week: “Air Force.”
“For a team that people say runs the triple option, they have thrown for nine touchdowns,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to be very careful in how you handle them and what you do.”
Patterson said the team is prepared for what the Air Force Academy has done during its first 11 games, but he would be surprised if the Falcons tried something new.
“They have a different game plan for everyone every week,” Patterson said. “But they are always going to have a new wrinkle. It will really come down to game time adjustments for this group.”
Saturday’s game will be the first one in 16 days for the Frogs, and the coach said there are both pros and cons to getting this extra time off after 11 straight weeks with games.
“The positive is that you need the extra time to get ready for a good Air Force team,” Patterson said. “But the negative is that it’s the last game of the season and you have to find ways to keep your team motivated.”
Another plus to the time off is that injured players are getting healthier. Patterson said sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, who had a limited role in the 13-10 loss to Utah, will return for this weekend’s game. The coach also said junior running back Joseph Turner, who missed the Utah game, is back to running 100 percent.
Patterson also said the timing of the break was unusual because last season the team had a 16-day break with four games left in the season.
“Playing at the end of the year is a grind, especially when you didn’t have any off weeks going into that point and, all of a sudden; now you get 16 days,” Patterson said. “It’s kind of like coming back from Christmas vacation when you were in school. You get all that time off and then you have to go back, and you don’t want to be there.”
This game will be the last home game for 20 Horned Frog seniors and Patterson said it will be weird looking at the field and not seeing the seniors’ numbers out there next season.
“It’s a big game for our seniors, this university and my staff. Everybody involved with this team owes them a lot,” Patterson said. “We need to understand that these guys have won a lot of football games. Hopefully we can get them to another 10-win season and maybe 11 with a bowl game.”