2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Enemy Lines Revisited

    Tue, November 6, 2007 by admin with 3 comments

    Had a reader ask if I could contact my friend who covers Navy for The Washington Post, Christian Swezey, to get his take on the Notre Dame-Navy game. “It amazes me that Navy can lose to Delaware one week and beat ND,” the reader wrote. “Is Notre Dame that bad, or is Navy bi-polar?”

    Swezey and I traded e-mails on this blog prior to the Navy-Air Force game, and he was kind enough to send one more with his thoughts.

    Here’s his take:

    Navy matched up better against ND than it did against Delaware, for a couple reasons.

    1. Delaware has a pro QB; scouts from at least 12 NFL teams have gone to watch the kid practice. It’s one thing to send scouts to a I-AA game, but these guys aren’t going to Newark, Del., on a Wednesday afternoon unless they are serious about somebody. The QB put real pressure on Navy’s depleted secondary (the Mids were down to their fifth-string safety in that game).

    2. Notre Dame’s strength is its defense. The offense is very ordinary. The Irish are starting their third QB this year, i.e. their third-string guy. They have very few playmakers on offense – they ran the ball 40-plus times against a small Navy defense on Saturday, but their longest run was 14 yards. No wonder they were so desperate to get Arrelious Benn, who spurned them for Illinois.

    One other thing to consider: My theory has been that Navy’s defense is no different from a lot of other young defenses, especially those that have had some success in the past – namely, the players tend to pick their spots. They were a lot more lively for Air Force and the second half of Duke, i.e. name teams, than they were for Ball State and Delaware (two losses). So there’s no question they were going to show up big-time to play ND, which they did.

    I’m afraid that Navy may have been like the rock band that trashes a hotel room, then leaves the bill for the next occupants. ND is going to be ready for AF. It should be an amazing game.

  • Hall, Harrison Earn Honors

    Mon, November 5, 2007 by admin with 5 comments

    Air Force senior receiver/running back Chad Hall and junior kicker Ryan Harrison were named the Mountain West Conference’s Offensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively, on Monday for their performances in the Falcons’ 30-10 victory over Army on Saturday. Harrison shared his award with San Diego State punter Michael Hughes.

    The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Hall, who earned the honor for the third time this year, broke the school record he set three weeks earlier by rushing for 275 yards and a score. In addition, Hall hauled in three passes for 19 yards and returned three punts for 39 yards, and his 333 all-purpose yards also broke a school single-game record.

    Hall already has the most all-purpose yards in a season in Air Force history (1,961), and he needs 373 rushing yards to break the school single-season mark of 1,494 set by Beau Morgan in 1996.

    Harrison, meantime, made all three of his field-goal attempts – from 35, 56 and 40 yards. The first-year starter, who is 14-for-22 on the year, is the only player in the nation to have made three field goals of 50 yards or more this season. Harrison also averaged 42 yards on two punts and kicked off seven times with four touchbacks.

  • Big-Time BlogDog

    Fri, November 2, 2007 by admin with 4 comments

    The BlogDog didn’t show much interest in this week’s pick.

    And I think I know why.

    Typically, when he makes his prediction, he chooses between two mini-replica helmets. Whichever one he goes to (best three of five times) is the team he thinks will win.

    But this week, with Air Force playing Army, I had to have BlogDog choose between a piece of paper that had “Air Force” scribbled on it and a piece of paper that had “Army” scribbled on it.

    Why? Because I only have the helmets of teams from the Mountain West Conference. Sorry, BlogDog, I would love to have all 119 Division I-A schools here at the BlogHouse, but I don’t, OK?

    And guess what? Paper was fine when he made his first ever choice (Air Force v. South Carolina State). And it was nooooo problem at all when Air Force played Navy and he was still in the first month of his career. But now that he’s predicted a career-high three straight games correctly, he gets in a huff when he has to choose between pieces of paper instead of helmets.

    Well he better get used to it. Because unless I paint a TCU or CSU helmet gold by next Friday, he’ll have to do the same for Air Force’s game with Notre Dame.

    Here’s how this week’s pick unfolded (remember, if Norm picks the same helmet three times in a row, he’s thinking blowout. If he chooses one team three times and the other team once, he’s thinking the game will be decided by about seven to 10 points. If he chooses one team three times and the other one twice, he’s predicting a close game): Norm went to the Army paper first. Then he went to the Air Force paper three straight times, progressively tearing it to shreds.

    Norm’s Pick: Air Force 34, Army 17

    Norm’s Record: 6-3

    What? No helmets?

  • Less Than Confidence Inspiring

    Thu, November 1, 2007 by admin with 5 comments

    Well, on the positive side …

    I liked the new scoreboards at Clune Arena.

    Other than that?

    Yikes. There weren’t too many positives to draw from the Air Force men’s basketball team’s 66-63 loss Wednesday night to Brock University, a team from Canada that does not have any scholarship players.

    Yes, it was an exhibition. And, yes, Air Force is very young and inexperienced.

    But the Falcons didn’t exactly play like it was an exhibition – only nine players were given significant minutes. And they couldn’t claim it was the first time they’d played together because they had the benefit of a five-game trip to Canada in early September and two weeks of practice before that trip.

    Here are some other disconcerting observations from the game:

    • Brock didn’t have much size – a pair of kids listed at 6-foot-7 who didn’t seem that big and didn’t seem that athletic – but it still managed to grab as many rebounds as Air Force (29).
    • Even though Air Force knew Brock would shoot a bunch of 3-pointers, the Badgers still were able to make 17 of 31. Was that an unusually good shooting performance by the Badgers? Yes, Brock’s coach admitted as much. But Air Force should have done a better job defending the 3.
    • It didn’t take Brock long to figure out how to defense Air Force – run a box-in-one defense to neutralize Tim Anderson. The Falcons will be in big trouble unless Anderson gets some help.
    • A general lack of emotion, except for when Andrew Henke yelled at his teammates mid-way through the second half.

    All that said, however, maybe Air Force needed something like this to make players work harder and understand the value of playing hard and with intensity every minute of every game. The players from last year’s team understood that. Maybe the guys on this year’s team need to learn it the hard way.

    “Just because we lost this game, that’s not predicting the season,” Anderson said. “Starting off on this kind of foot just says we need to work on our defense more and learn how to play as a team more.”

    Indeed. And all of a sudden, a less-than-attractive out-of-conference schedule looks like the best thing that could happen to the Falcons.