Are you ready for some football?
After months of writing about what might happen, who could be good and which players have a chance to start, I definitely was ready.
For those of you who are new to the blog, I’ll be posting a quick wrap of each practice here. As I said in an earlier post, please fire away with questions and comments about what I need to cover.
As for today, all in all, for the first day of practice, it wasn’t bad. Clearly some rust, clearly some things that need to be improved, but for the most part a solid effort
“It was a normal first day – doing a lot of mental reps and getting used to breathing with the helmet on and shoes and whatnot,” Air Force senior center Andrew Pipes said. “It’s just getting back into the mode. Nothing too special or heavy about it.”
With that, some quick thoughts:
Who Stood Out: A pair of sophomore receivers – Kevin Fogler and Nate Carlson.
Fogler stands out before he even makes a play because of his size. At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, he has the prototype frame for a receiver. Back in the spring I mentioned Fogler as a player to watch, and he looks even more comfortable with the varsity now. He made a few nice grabs Thursday.
Carlson (no shrimp himself at 6-4, 215 pounds) also was impressive Thursday. He made a sliding grab on a go pattern and later reached high to snag a ball on a post pattern.
Lasting Image: Air Force coach Troy Calhoun telling sophomore Z receiver Kyle Halderman to “finish.”
During the 11-on-11 “team” portion of the practice (near the end of the session), Halderman got the ball on a designed run around left tackle. After a few yards he was swarmed by defenders who grabbed onto him (remember, there was no tackling because players were in helmets, jerseys and shorts). The play was over, and players, including Halderman, jogged back to the line of scrimmage.
Nothing wrong with that, right?
When a play is whistled dead, coaches want the ball carrier to “finish” the play by sprinting another 10 to 20 yards. Players did it all last season, even getting up off the ground to “finish.”
Calhoun saw Halderman simply walking back to the line of scrimmage and yelled to him to “finish.” With other coaches and players yelling and discussing what went right and wrong on the play, Halderman couldn’t hear Calhoun, even when the coach repeated himself. So Calhoun grabbed a ball, walked across the field, handed it to Halderman and got him to run down the field to finish the play.
QB Corner: I think it will be at least two weeks, and maybe three, before Calhoun decides upon a starter or decides that two guys will split time. And the depth chart could flip a couple times before then.
Junior Eric Herbort was listed as the starter heading into the preseason, but he had only the slightest advantage over senior Shea Smith, last year’s backup. On Thursday, I thought both had some good moments. Herbort is clearly a little quicker on his feet – and that showed on designed runs – but Smith was a bit sharper throwing the ball today. Herbort forced a throw into traffic late in the practice, hitting strong safety Stephan Atrice in the hands (though Atrice couldn’t quite come up with it).
Calhoun said Smith and Herbort both were good “for a first day. You can just tell they’re older.”
Quote to Note: “I think it helps a lot because of the older guys who know it. Guys like myself and Shea Smith, we can kind of teach the younger guys who don’t know it as well. We can teach them a little more, and it brings everyone up to speed a littler faster.” – Senior fullback Todd Newell on the benefits of having a year of experience with Calhoun’s system. Something I wrote about in one of the articles that will appear in tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette.