Air Force began preparations for Southern Utah today, and the entire practice seemed pretty crisp.
Falcons coach Troy Calhoun had said his team’s execution would improve once he reduced the number of players getting reps, and he was right. It was mostly the first and second units going on Thursday, and players looked good.
Who Stood Out: WR Spencer Armstrong.
The senior is the Falcons’ deep threat, and he excels at running posts and fades and catching the home run ball. But he said earlier in the preseason that he has to be more consistent. He was Thursday, catching everything thrown in his general direction.
Early in practice Armstrong laid out to grab a deep pass thrown by senior Shea Smith. In one-on-one drills he ran a quick out and dove to haul in another pass from Smith. And later in practice he made a pair of catches in traffic. One came when he ran a quick slant and held on to the ball even as he was sandwiched by Air Force linebackers Ken Lamendola and Justin Moore.
Lasting Image: Players on the sideline marveling at the long field goals being made by senior kicker Ryan Harrison. Kickers often are the butt of jokes at practices – and they make an easy target. But you can tell Air Force players realize and respect what kind of weapon they have in Harrison.
QB Corner: A decent day for both Smith and junior Eric Herbort. As has been the case most of the preseason, neither one really distanced himself from the other.
After practice, Calhoun elaborated on the strengths of the Falcons’ top two signal callers.
“With Shea Smith, it’s he’s been here for a while. I think it helps being a senior at the academy. I just think you figure out a little bit the daily routine with academics, with things that you have to do within your squadron. And I think he’s got a real good grasp of what we do offensively. Eric runs quite well, and you can see he’s got some flashes of being able to do some things a little bit more dynamic.”
Quote to Note: “Quit bein’ soft! You’re gonna get hit anyway.” – Graduate assistant coach Shaun Carney to a freshman receiver who had a case of alligator arms when going across the middle. I know the academy has graduate assistants every year, but I’ve gotten a kick out of watching this year’s two – Carney and Drew Fowler. Maybe that’s because it’s my third year on the beat, and I got to know Carney and Fowler during their junior and senior seasons. But I also think it’s because both of them are going to end up in the coaching profession after they get out of the military. Both have it in their blood. Fowler’s father, Gary, is a longtime high school coach in North Carolina. Shaun’s brother, Mark, coaches in college.
One More Thing: As mentioned two posts earlier, Tony Desiere is back doing a radio show. It’s on line and you can hear it here. Tony D had me on his show today to talk Air Force football. You can download our conversation by going here and looking on the right side of the page.