2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Preseason Preview

    Fri, July 31, 2009 by admin with 4 comments

    Greetings from Washington, D.C., where I’m spending a few days with the family before football practice starts on Monday.

    The Gazette’s four-part preview of Air Force’s preseason began today with Five Pressing Questions facing the Falcons as they open camp. Tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette will have Five Players to Watch in the preseason (players who haven’t started and maybe are under the radar but could make big contributions in 2009). Sunday’s paper will have a feature on strong safety Chris Thomas, a player I think could emerge as a candidate for Mountain West Conference Player of the Year honors. And Monday’s paper will have the Top Five Position Battles at camp.

    And look for updates on the blog after Monday’s practice.

  • AF in Denver

    Thu, July 30, 2009 by admin with 3 comments

    So I’m driving south down Broadway this morning to go hit golf balls at Overland Park (I live in Denver). And right before taking a right on Iowa, I see Air Force junior defensive end Rick Ricketts staring at me.

    Well, not in the flesh. I was looking at a billboard that contained the “I am Team” slogan and the image below.


    Just found it interesting, as I’ve lived here for four years, and this is the Air Force billboard that I can remember seeing.

  • Charles Nominated for Good Works Team

    Thu, July 30, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force senior guard Nick Charles has been nominated for the Allstate/American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, which honors players who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement.

    Charles is his squadron’s point of contact for the Cadet for a Day program, he was the cadet in charge of the Sunrise Senior Living Center’s Valentine’s Ball and he was an academy representative for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. He also is a two-time Academic All-Mountain West Conference selection and a member of the academy dean’s list.

    Charles is one of 106 nominees for the 11-player Good Works Team. Adrian Martinez, a senior offensive lineman at Colorado State, also has been nominated.

  • Decade Rankings

    Tue, July 28, 2009 by admin with 4 comments

    I love stuff like this.

    CBSSports.com is ranking all 120 college football programs based on their performances during the last decade. The site hasn’t revealed its Top 30 yet, but Air Force comes in at No. 48.

    Other notables: Army at 115. Wyoming, San Diego State and UNLV at 104, 105 and 108, respectively. CSU at 64. Navy at 60 (I imagine fans of the Midshipmen aren’t so happy at being 12 spots below the Falcons despite Navy’s struggles earlier this decade). Colorado at 53. New Mexico at 49.

    Looks like the MWC’s “Big Three” all will be in the Top 30.

  • MWC Media Days Video Recaps

    Mon, July 27, 2009 by admin with no comments

    All three parts of my video recap of the Mountain West Conference media days in Las Vegas are available on the Air Force page of Gazette.com.

    The first part deals with the preseason poll, the second part deals with the all-conference team and the third part deals with some Air Force news.

  • Air Force Hoops Freshmen

    Mon, July 27, 2009 by admin with 5 comments

    Air Force today released the bios of the nine players that make up the men’s basketball team’s freshman class. Here they are:

    F Zach Bohannon (6-7, 195) Marion, IA (Linn-Mar High)
    Led team to a 24-3 record and runner-up finish in Class 4A as a senior … first-team all-state selection as a senior … second-team all-state and first-team all-conference selection as a junior … averaged a double-double (15 pts., 10 reb.) as a junior … helped team to the 4A state championship as a sophomore … parents are Gordy and Brenda Bohannon … his older brother, Jason, plays basketball at the University of Wisconsin.

    G/F Adam Brakeville (6-5, 195) Dana Point, CA (USAFA Prep School/Corona Del Mar High)
    Averaged 6.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season for the USAFA Prep School … finished second on the team in rebounding … tied for second on the team with 46 steals … led the squad by taking 13 charges on the defensive end … helped Corona Del Mar High School to a 21-8 record as a senior by averaging 5.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game … second-team all-league pick as a senior … parents are Chip Brakeville and Donna Rados.

    F/C Taylor Broekhuis (6-10, 210) Colorado Springs, CO (USAFA Prep School/Colo. Springs Christian)
    Led the USAFA Prep School in rebounding last season at 7.8 boards per game … also paced the team with 96 blocked shots in 30 games … finished fourth on the team in scoring at 9.8 ppg … shot 47.2 percent from the field … averaged 17.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.9 blocks per game as a senior at Colorado Springs Christian School … led the Lions to the 2008 3A state championship game … named The Gazette’s 2007-08 Small Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year … Class 3A first-team all-state selection by The Denver Post … parents are Mike and Lisa Broekhuis.

    F/C David Burns (6-9, 220) Littleton, CO (USAFA Prep School/Mullen High)
    Averaged 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 30 games at the USAFA Prep School … posted second-best field-goal percentage on the team at 48 percent (48-100) … second-team all-league selection at Mullen High School as a senior in ’07-08 … helped team to the Class 5A Final Four as a junior … parents are Don and Donna Burns.

    G/F Mike Fitzgerald (6-6, 190) Centerville, MN (St. Thomas Academy)

    Averaged 19.6 points per game for the Cadets during his senior season … two-time all-conference  selection … honorable mention all-state pick … as a junior, the Cadets finished 24-7 and were the AAA 2nd place finishers … helped team to a 30-2 record and Class AAA championship as a sophomore … No. 2 on the school’s career scoring list with 1,287 points … ranked No. 17 on list of Minnesota’s top college prospects from the class of 2009 by MinnesotaPreps.com … parents are John and Angel Fitzgerald … his older brother, Dan, played basketball at Tulane and Marquette.

    G Todd Fletcher (6-2, 180) Lee’s Summit, MO (Lee’s Summit West High)
    Ranks third all-time in scoring (658 points) and second in assists (239) and steals (126) at Lee’s Summit West … first-team all-district selection as a senior when he averaged 15 points, six rebounds and four assists per game … assist-to-turnover ratio was 4-to-1 … helped team to a 24-3 record and a district championship … averaged 10 points, five rebounds and three assists as a junior … also named conference defensive player of the year … parents are Phil and Toni Fletcher.

    G Kyle Green (6-3, 180) Richland Hills, TX (USAFA Prep School/Richland High)
    Appeared in 25 games for the USAFA Prep School last season … averaged 8.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game … led the team in three-point percentage at 38.1 percent (37-97) … second on the team with eight charges taken … averaged 18.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a senior at Richland High School … shot 46 percent from three-point range … parents are Thomas and Julia Green.

    G Mike Lyons (6-6, 192) Newport News, VA (USAFA Prep School/ Massanutten Military Academy)

    Led the USAFA Prep School team to a 24-8 record … paced the team in scoring, averaging 17.5 points per game … pulled down 5.2 rebounds per game and tied for second on the team with 72 assists … shot team-high 52.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range … played at the Massanutten Military Academy … parents are Michael and Reba Lyons … his older sister, Tish, played basketball at Old Dominion.

    F Andy Stainbrook (6-8, 195) Bay Village, OH (USAFA Prep School/St. Edward High)
    Appeared in 27 games for the USAFA Prep School last season … averaged 3.6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game … helped St. Edward High School to a 22-5 record and an appearance in the Division I State championship game as a senior … parents are David and Nancy Stainbrook.

  • No Weatheroy, Robinson

    Mon, July 27, 2009 by admin with no comments

    I reported this in the spring, but I just confirmed it with the folks at Air Force to be sure there wasn’t a faster-than-expected recovery: Sophomore tailback Paul Weatheroy will not play this season.

    In the offseason Weatheroy re-injured the knee that he blew out in the 2008 preseason. So that’s two season-ending injuries in two seasons. Without having played a game. Tough break.

    Also, receiver Jaquon Robinson, who would have been a sophomore this year, no longer is with the program. He left the academy in the summer. Robinson played in three games last season and caught one pass for seven yards but showed potential in practice to be a deep threat.

  • Looks Like Spread, Tastes Like Pro-Style

    Mon, July 27, 2009 by admin with no comments

    With all the talk about spread offenses lately, I asked first-year New Mexico coach Mike Locksley about the attack he’s implementing in Albuquerque.

    “The base of our offense, if you look at the roots of it, it’s a pro-style offense,” Locksley said last week at the Mountain West Conference media days in Las Vegas. “A lot of people have the misconception, you hear ‘spread.’ We run lead plays, we run zone plays, we run counter plays. But what makes our offense unique is we run it with the spread mechanics behind it. … The misconception of the spread is that we’re going to throw it around 50 times a game. To me, my offensive philosophy comes from the time I spent with Ralph Friedgen (at Maryland). I want to have a balanced offense. And balance, to me, isn’t 50 percent run, 50 percent pass. It’s being able to do both really well. You have to.”

    Locksley said he tries to take most of the pre-snap decision making off the shoulders of his quarterback, “who spends 20 hours a week doing football,” and put it on “the offensive coordinator who’s putting 16 hours a day studying the opponents, to be able to get us in the right plays and make the right decisions.”

    Locksley said the key for his staff is to find the Lobos’ playmakers and get the ball in those players’ hands. A key question for Air Force fans is how long will that take?

    I wrote last week about how the Falcons’ coaching staff will be challenged in game-planning for New Mexico and San Diego State in weeks three and four, respectively, because both schools have new staffs and thus there will be little film of what they do.

    But the Falcons could catch a break by catching those teams early if they haven’t quite learned their personnel yet. Sure, they had all spring and will have all preseason, but it can take time. Remember, it wasn’t until Game Six of the 2007 season (Troy Calhoun’s first) that Chad Hall became the focus of the Falcons’ offense. Calhoun said later that it took him that long to realize what Hall could do/handle.

  • This and that from Thomas and Charles

    Thu, July 23, 2009 by admin with 3 comments

    Had a chance to sit down with a pair of management majors – Nick Charles and Chris Thomas – on Wednesday at the Mountain West Conference media days.

    Something I didn’t know about Thomas that I know now: Since switching majors (from biology to management) his major GPA is 3.95. Not bad.

    Here are some thoughts from the Falcons’ two player representatives at media days:

    On Air Force being selected fourth in the MWC preseason media poll: “I think coach (Troy) Calhoun has done such a great job these past couple years, getting us to a place where we can receive some credit like that. But we don’t really take much stock in those polls. We’ve still got to play every game. We can’t look past anyone.”

    On playing with sophomore free safety Jon Davis: “I’m excited to play with him. He’s a great athlete. He got his feet wet a little bit last year, and I think that’ll help him this year.”

    On how good Air Force can be: “I think we can be the best we’ve been since I’ve been here. I feel like we’ve got a ton of talent. If we’re able to put it together and mesh well as a team, which I think we can do – that’s usually not a problem at the Air Force Academy as far as personalities clashing – I think we have the potential to be pretty good.”

    On big games this year: “The Minnesota game’s a big game out of conference, a Big Ten team. It would be good for our program and good for the conference. The Navy game, obviously, we have that monkey on our back that we’d like to get off. But the big thing, obviously, is we’ve got to take it one game at a time.”

    On whether Air Force is no longer the underdog after getting picked fourth in the preseason poll: “I think we’re always going to be the underdogs. I don’t ever see this program – whether or not it goes undefeated year after year – ever being picked to be number one. And that’s kind of the approach and mentality we have to take. We’re never going to be as big, we’re not as fast, we can’t jump as high, but when it comes to being on the field, we bring something special, and I think that’s really what’s going to set us apart and get us over that hump to be a top performer in the conference.”

    On potential starting center Mike Hampton: “He brings a lot to the table. He’s a kid who’s resilient. He’s been here for a while, he’s been through a lot, he’s a tough kid and we’re all looking forward to playing right next to him. He’s going to be a good guy to kind of work around.”

    On if he cares who plays quarterback: “Absolutely not. If you look at our potential starter right now and all the way down the depth chart, we’ve got really, really tough kids. And no matter who’s back there, they’re going to find a way to make it happen.”

  • Watch out for CSU

    Thu, July 23, 2009 by admin with 5 comments

    It probably won’t happen this year.

    And it might not happen next year.

    But something tells me Steve Fairchild is going to get Colorado State back into the upper echelon of the Mountain West Conference. And probably sooner rather than later.

    Just a gut feeling. I like the second-year coach’s no-nonsense attitude. I like his commitment to an offense based around a power running game (when 90 percent of the teams in college football – or so it seems – are moving to spread offenses). I like how much the Rams improved – and overachieved – in going 7-6 a season ago. And I like the history in Fort Collins – wasn’t so long ago the Rams dominated league play.

    “Last season was kind of a nice, little – in a sense – righting the ship for our program,” Fairchild said Tuesday at the Mountain West Conference media days in Las Vegas. “It’s still our aim at Colorado State to get our football program back to being one of the elite teams in the Mountain West – being a team much like Utah has (been) to compete year in and year out for the conference championship. We’re not there yet by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re headed in the right direction, and I think we’ve got a good mindset for our football team. So the ‘09 season will be a very, very good barometer for how far we’ve come.”

    As someone who grew up on the Redskins teams of the 1980s (when The Hogs became the most famous – or at least most recognized – offensive line in the game’s history), I still believe that football games – despite the rise of fancy, high-flying offenses – are won up front. And Colorado State is good up front.

    The Rams return all five of their 2008 offensive line starters, and those players have combined to start 125 games – the most of any unit in the country heading into the 2009 season.

    If the Rams have a breakout 2009, the line likely will have had a lot to do with it.

    If the Rams don’t have a breakout 2009, look for such a season not too far down the line.

    “I took this job with a long-term goal in mind,” Fairchild said. “And 18 months ago when I took this job I saw very clearly where we were, and I know very clearly where we want to get to. Now that road is not going to be smooth. We’re going to have some ups and downs along the way. We’ll just have to keep to our plan. This season is very important for us, but it’s not the end all. At some point, we’re going to get Colorado State football back where it belongs. This season is just another chance to take a step in the right direction.”