I sat down with Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun this afternoon to talk about what he hopes to accomplish during spring practice (which starts a week from today) and to get some thoughts about this year’s team.
My spring practice preview story, along with two lists – 3 Pressing Questions and 3 Top Position Battles to Watch – will appear later this week in The Gazette. Possibly this weekend.
But there were a few tidbits from my conversation with Calhoun that I wanted to share.
Most newsworthy … Freshman Asher Clark, who emerged as the Falcons’ top tailback last season, will play quarterback in the spring and compete with freshman Tim Jefferson, who started the last eight games of the 2008 season and won Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year honors.
That doesn’t mean Clark will be playing tailback and taking some snaps at QB on occasion. He’s going to attend the quarterback meetings and fully immerse himself in the position.
“He’s 100 percent quarterback,” Calhoun said. “I thought back in August Asher Clark showed a lot at the quarterback position. I like his strength, I like the way he throws the ball, I like his quickness. I like how naturally he acquires football. … I want to see what the guy can do at quarterback.”
Jefferson could benefit from competition, Calhoun said.
“I think it could be good for everybody,” Calhoun said.
Some other notes:
-Junior Sean Quintana, who played some tight end along with receiver last season, will move to tight end permanently. “We’re going to let him play tight end from the start,” Calhoun said. “Gives him a chance maybe to put on a little weight between now and the first of August. And to learn that position cold.”
-Freshman Ben Kopacka (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) has been moved from tight end to defensive end.
-Sophomore fullback Jared Tew could get a look at tailback.
-Junior nose guard Stephen Larson, who missed much of 2008 with a knee injury, should be able to play in spring practice. Sophomore inside linebacker Ken Lamendola (shoulder) and defensive end Alex Arndt (shoulder) both will see “minimal” time during spring practice.
-Sophomore tailback Kyle Lumpkin will not participate in spring practice to concentrate on academics.
-Junior linebacker Clay Bryant, a 2008 Mountain West Conference all-academic team selection, has left the team. He wants to concentrate on positioning himself for his career after graduation, Calhoun said.