Air Force’s 3-0 start is nice, but coaches aren’t letting players get too happy.
On Monday, defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter (the subject of Ramsey’s column), abruptly stopped practice near the end of the session and gathered his defensive players. He made them do a series of “up-downs,” (a conditioning drill) as punishment and then got in the players’ faces and screamed at them.
He demanded to see each of his players’ eyes and then told them that their effort in practice wasn’t near good enough. He reminded them that they were playing the defending Mountain West Conference champions this weekend. And he reminded them that those champs (the BYU Cougars) have beaten the Falcons convincingly the last three years.
“We didn’t have a great practice,” DeRuyter said afterwards. “Guys got to understand, if we really want to play for a championship, we’ve got to play like champions and practice like champions every time we come out. And we were just sloppy today. I don’t know if it was the weather, the weekend, what it was, but we had too much of a hangover.”
After the practice Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said his team has to improve “across the board” if it wants to be “a really good football team.”
“I’m not as pleased with the offense as we should be, I’m not as pleased with our defense as we should be,” he said. “I just look the other night – offense, there were too many parts of the game where we struggled and defense, we gave up way too many yards. We bent a lot the other night on defense. And then kicking game-wise, we’re just too inconsistent. So we’ve got plenty we can work on.”
One other note: Air Force likely will continue to use a rotation of tailbacks this season. Kip McCarthy seemed to seize the starting spot in the Falcons’ opener, but he’s been hampered by a knee injury. Jim Ollis seemed to seize the starting role with his performance against TCU, but his left ankle continues to give him problems. Either one – or Savier Stephens or senior Chad Smith or a combination of all of them – could carry the load this Saturday.
Check back later tonight for a recap of Calhoun’s Tuesday press conference.