The Falcons used TCU’s indoor facility for about an hour and a half in the morning. The tempo of practice was high, but there was little contact and players had dialed it back a tad.
Players said they will be ready to go Monday after what will have been a 43-day layoff since the Nov. 17 regular-season finale against San Diego State.
“We’re looking good,” Air Force senior running back/receiver Chad Hall said. “And now we get to rest for a day and a half before the game.”
“Our guys will be ready to play,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “We’ll crank up, we’ll go, we’re just going to have to execute.”
Calhoun’s biggest concern remains adjusting to game speed and Cal’s speed early in the game – “That’s going to be a shock to us,” he said. He also is worried about ball security – “how well you hold onto the ball when you’re getting drilled.”
On-field notes: With linemen Peter Lusk and Caleb Morris both back to practice this week, and with Chad Smith seemingly running at full speed, Air Force is as close to healthy as it has been since the start of the season.
Senior outside linebacker Julian Madrid, who put off knee surgery to return to the field this year, said his injured knee is not giving him any trouble. He also said he’s putting off surgery until April to get some skiing in. …
Calhoun said senior tailback Jim Ollis and junior receiver Ty Paffett are two players on offense who emerged and impressed him late in the season. He praised sophomore strong safety Chris Thomas and senior inside linebacker Aaron Shanor on defense.
“Shanor has played really well at linebacker,” Calhoun said. “The last couple of ballgames he’s been outstanding.”
Off-field notes: When asked what they’ve enjoyed most about the bowl experience, most players have said spending time with their teammates.
“The funnest thing is being with the guys at night and here at practice,” senior inside linebacker Drew Fowler said. “You want to say it’s a normal practice, but it’s still different knowing you’re going back to a hotel. It’s like one big house that we’re living in. … I woke up on the 26th, and I was all mad because I got that normal, sick feeling. It felt like I was just going back to Colorado – my bags were packed. But once we saw everybody I had to tell myself, ‘We’re going to have fun, we’re not going back to school.’” …
The weather has gotten progressively better as the week has gone on. Today at Cal’s practice temperatures were in the 50s, and the sun – absent most of the week – finally made an appearance.