The Boise State football team has played in every corner of the country, in paradise and on frozen tundra, in front of a smattering of fans and more than 90,000 fans, at sea level and at 7,000 feet of elevation.
And still the Broncos will walk into an environment they’ve never experienced Saturday at Falcon Stadium in U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. — just outside Colorado Springs.
The Broncos will play at a service academy for the first time. Air Force is one of three that play major college football. The others are Army (West Point, N.Y.) and Navy (Annapolis, Md.) — two teams the Broncos have not faced.
Boise State and Air Force met in 2011 and 2013 in Boise. A scheduling quirk during Mountain West realignment delayed the team’s first visit to the Air Force Academy.
“It’s a different experience,” said Boise State senior defensive end Beau Martin, who attended an Air Force game as a recruit. “I’m really excited for our guys to experience it.”
This game will not have a pregame flyover, a tradition that was scrapped last year because of budget cuts. It will feature the Wings of Blue skydiving team, which delivers flags and the game ball in a pregame demonstration.
Also, about 1,000 cadets will march onto the field in formation for the national anthem, then run into the stands.
“The march, the skydiving team, the flyovers we’ve had — you realize it’s something bigger than just football,” Air Force tight end Garrett Griffin said. “We’re students, cadets, before football players. The atmosphere is a cool deal.”
Boise State special teams and running backs coach Kent Riddle coached at Army for six years, from 1995 to 2000, and can give the Broncos an idea what to expect.
“It’ll be different,” Riddle said. “We’ll have a good atmosphere. We better show up ready to play — I know that. That’s the one thing I know about the service academies — they’re going to show up ready to play and they’re going to plan on playing all 60 minutes.”
The Broncos and their fans made a point to show respect for the Falcons when they visited Boise. Players say they will do the same in Falcon Stadium.
“After the game, I’ll definitely shake their hands and tell them how much I respect them,” Martin said. “They have a lot on their plate and they’re exceptional football players as well.”
Other leftover notes/quotes from the week:
— Backup tailback Devan Demas on starter Jay Ajayi: “He’s taken a toll but he just keeps getting it done and I think he will keep getting it done.”
— Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford on Chaz Anderson’s three catches against Louisiana: “It’s great to see it actually show up on game day because we’ve seen it in scrimmages, we’ve seen it in practices. He needed that moment. He did a nice job. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for what Chaz can do in this offense.”
— Sanford on tight end Jake Roh: “He’s a great player and a versatile player. A guy you feel like can play at receiver, can play at tight end, can play at fullback. You forget that he’s playing his freshman year right now. He seems so mature, so dialed in. He’s going to have a tremendous career here.”
— Center Marcus Henry on snapping and making the line calls: “It’s hard. There’s a lot going on, a lot going on in my head, a lot to worry about. I’ve always got to keep in the back of my mind the snap is the most important thing.” Henry has been good with the snaps most of this year but he had two bad ones last week.
— Henry on the offensive line: “We like our chances with Jay as a running back, being a downhill running team. That definitely gives us a mindset to be physical every single play.”
— Henry, on the Broncos’ wide running play that has worked so well this year: “It’s based off a power play. We run a lot in between the tackles. People see the action looks like power and we give them a little something different.”
— Junior tight end Jake Hardee on having five guys now with Connor Peters back from academic suspension: “We’re one of the most healthy positions on the team. It allows all five of us to get in there and contribute and keep everyone fresh.”
— Hardee on Peters: “He’s 260 pounds, so he’s a big guy on the line of scrimmage who can move people off the ball.”
— Hardee on playing on the wedge on kickoff return: “It’s kind of fun. Sometimes you get blown up here or there.”
— Offensive line coach Scott Huff on the line: “Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with it. We definitely have made some huge strides just looking back since spring ball and the best thing about this group is their best football is still in front of them. As they continue to grow and develop, not only together, but as individuals, it really looks like it’s going to be a bright future for us.”
— Linebacker Ben Weaver on Roh: “They call him Jake the Snake because he’s able to just get loose. He has great hands.”
— Riddle on Demas’ big game vs. Louisiana: “Devan did a phenomenal job. We tell those guys maximize our touches because we all know at the end of the day Jay’s going to have the bulk of the touches.”
— Riddle on how to balance Ajayi with getting Demas involved: “Maybe we’ll put them in together. You’ve just got to be good about figuring out which plays and which situations are best for each guy. We do have confidence in Devan and Jack to get in there and do good things for us and over the course of time you’re going to see more and more of them because they’re earning more and more, but Jay’s still really good and if we didn’t give him the ball enough everybody would be upset about that.”
— Riddle on coaching at Army: “It’s a great place. It really is. It’s a little bit different because their time is so valuable. They really show up and let’s get rolling on football. You don’t have a lot of time to interact with them outside of the football stuff. They’ve got so much commitment in terms of their study time and they do have some military commitment.”
Boise State at Air Force
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Falcon Stadium (46,692, FieldTurf), U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.
TV: CBS Sports Network (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jamie Erdahl)
Records: Boise State is 3-1 overall, 1-0 Mountain West; Air Force is 2-1, 0-1
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