• State of the Conference

    Thu, July 23, 2009 by admin with no comments

    I apologize for my posts abruptly stopping yesterday. I made it to the airport early, where I thought I’d blog some more, but construction has messed up the wireless there. So today I’ll be putting in a few more thoughts from media days in a series of posts.

    First, here’s the story I wrote for today’s edition of The Gazette about Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson’s state of the conference address (some Air Force notes are tacked on the bottom).

    One thing I didn’t fit in the story: Thompson said he’s been asked a bunch why the MWC signed the BCS deal with ESPN that runs through the 2013 season if it’s so against system.

    Basically, it’s because the slight chance of a MWC team breaking into the BCS (and even slighter chance of playing for a title) means more than making a point.

    “Our board of directors felt we had only one opportunity for the postseason, and that was the BCS,” Thompson said. “We cannot deny our student-athletes that opportunity.

    “Our student-athletes will not be made a pawn. This is not their issue. This is our issue.”

  • Hughes on the Horned Frogs ‘D’

    Wed, July 22, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Why is TCU’s defense so ferocious year in and year out?

    According to TCU senior defensive end Jerry Hughes, the Mountain West Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, it’s in large part because of coach Gary Patterson’s recruiting.

    “He’s not going out there looking for a certain guy to play a certain position,” Hughes said. “He’s kind of looking for a hybrid-type athlete that he can fit and mold into a position.”

    Like, for instance, Hughes.

    In high school, Hughes was a running back, and during his senior season he rushed for 1,412 yards and 19 touchdowns en route to honorable mention 5A All-State honors. He also was an all-district selection as a kick returner.

    “When he recruited me, they had me listed as an athlete,” Hughes said. “So coming in I was thinking as an athlete more on the offensive side of the ball. But he kind of pointed me more toward the defensive side and told me I could pretty much work out and kind of be like (former TCU standout) Tommy Blake, who also came in as a running back and got transitioned to defensive end.”

    Let’s just say Hughes has made the transition too. Last season he led the nation with 15 sacks.

  • Updated Two-Deep Chart

    Wed, July 22, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    Here’s the depth chart that appears in the media guide. It just strikes me that a bunch of players have changed their jersey numbers – Connor Dietz (now 11) Michael Hester (69), Jon Davis (6), Ryan Gardner (86), Jon Ashley (21), P.J. Adeji-Paul (24) and Phil Ofili (10).

    OFFENSE

    WR-X
    83 Kevin Fogler (6-5, 205) Jr.
    80 Anthony Hemphill (6-1, 200) Sr.

    TE
    81 Sean Quintana (6-2, 200) Sr.
    82 Chaz Demerath (6-2, 195) Jr.

    LT
    59 Ryan Gonzales (6-3, 255) Sr.
    73 A.J. Wallerstein (6-4, 285) So.

    LG
    57 Nick Charles (6-4, 285) Sr.
    63 Jeffrey Benson (6-0, 265) So.

    C
    65 Michael Hampton (6-2, 260) Sr.
    69 Michael Hester (6-3, 240) So.

    RG
    62 Peter Lusk (6-3, 270) Sr.
    61 Tyler Shonsheck (6-1, 265) Jr.

    RT
    60 Chris Campbell (6-3, 270) Sr.
    74 Chase Darden (6-3, 265) Jr.

    QB
    7   Tim Jefferson (6-0, 200) So.    – OR –
    17 Asher Clark (5-8, 185) So.
    11 Connor Dietz (6-0, 185) So.

    FB
    42 Jared Tew (6-0, 210) Jr.
    40 Ryan Southworth (5-10, 220) Jr.

    TB
    17 Asher Clark (5-8, 185) So.    – OR –
    2   Savier Stephens (5-11, 190) Jr.
    9   Luke Hyder (5-11, 195) Sr.

    WR-Z
    4   Kyle Halderman (5-11, 175) Jr.
    15 Jonathan Warzeka (5-9, 175) So.

    DEFENSE

    DE
    51 Myles Morales (6-3, 250) Sr.
    86 Ryan Gardner (6-3, 240) So.

    NG
    93 Ben Garland (6-5, 275) Sr.
    89 Bradley Connor (6-2, 265) Jr.

    DE
    90 Rick Ricketts (6-3, 260) Jr.
    92 Wylie Wikstrom (6-2, 235) Jr.

    OLB
    44 Patrick Hennessey (6-2, 215) Jr.
    32 Jordan Waiwaiole (6-3, 210) So.

    ILB
    43 Justin Moore (5-11, 225) Sr.
    55 Austin Demmel (6-1, 200) So.

    ILB
    45 John Falgout (6-0, 225) Sr.
    47 Ken Lamendola (6-2, 230) Jr.

    OLB
    36 Andre Morris, Jr. (6-3, 235) Jr.
    53 Braylon Gurnell (6-2, 195) Jr.

    CB
    5   Anthony Wright (5-10, 189) So.
    24 P.J. Adeji-Paul (6-0, 190) So.

    CB
    8   Reggie Rembert (5-8, 175) Jr.
    18 Elliott Battle (5-9, 170) Jr.

    SS
    34 Chris Thomas (5-11, 205) Sr.
    24 Phil Ofili (5-11, 200) So.

    FS
    16 Jon Davis (6-1, 190) So.
    21 Jon Ashley (6-0, 195) Jr.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    PK
    94 Zach Bell (6-2, 180) Jr.
    96 Garrett Jack (5-7, 175) So.

    P
    98 Brandon Geyer (6-4, 200) Sr.
    97 Keil Bartholomew (5-8, 165) Jr.

    DS
    56 Colton Reid (6-0, 255) So.
    40 Ryan Southworth (5-10, 220) Jr.

  • Utah Notes

    Wed, July 22, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the primary focus of the Utes’ preseason would be finding a starting quarterback.

    Brian Johnson, last year’s Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is gone, and three players – juniors Corbin Louks and Terrance Cain and freshman Jordan Wynn – are vying to replace him. That’s too many, Whittingham said.

    “You’ve got to get it to two as soon as possible,” Whittingham said. “There’s not enough time or repetitions in practice to get three guys ready. So the first order of business is getting it down to two, and then ultimately down to one.”

    With an inexperienced quarterback, Whittingham said the Utes would “lean heavily on the defense early in the season and on the running game and (preseason all-conference running back) Matt Asiata. That’s going to be big.”

    -Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said the Utes became “a national team” with their 13-0 2008. He said more people now recognize his Utah gear out-of-state.

    “People know who we are now,” he said.

  • Keuchler Will not Play

    Wed, July 22, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Junior outside linebacker Will Keuchler will not play in 2009 so he can concentrate on academics.

    “He’s got a burning desire to be in the special forces, but he realizes what he’s got to do is go solely the academic route,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “We’ve got to get him graduated because he’ll do some great, great things on active duty.”

    Keuchler played in all 13 games last season and made five tackles. He was expected to compete for playing time at outside linebacker in 2009.

  • Good Morning from Vegas

    Wed, July 22, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    Usually when I’m up this early in Vegas it’s because I haven’t gone to bed yet.

    But there’s work to do!

    Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson will give his state of the conference address in about five minutes. I’m guessing it’ll center on the league’s failed attempts to change the BCS. What comes out of his address will be the focus of my article in tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette.

    A couple quick things:

    1) You can find an article I did for today’s Gazette about the new coaches in the MWC and how they affect Air Force along with some AF notes here.

    2) Some answers to some questions that were posed on the blog:

    Q: Where is tailback Kyle Lumpkin on the depth chart?
    A: He’s not. Lumpkin did not participate in spring drills and is no longer with the team. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said Lumpkin needs to concentrate on academics. Calhoun has told me Lumpkin could return in 2010 as a senior.

    Q: Where can we see the 2009 media guide on line?
    A: I’m assuming it will be on the AFA web site within the next few days/weeks. I’ll try to get an answer for this from the Air Force sports info folks out here.

  • More Tomorrow

    Tue, July 21, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    That’s probably it for me for today. Check back tomorrow for another bundle of posts from the MWC Media Days in Vegas.

  • More from Calhoun

    Tue, July 21, 2009 by admin with no comments

    A couple other things Air Force coach Troy Calhoun touched upon on Day One of the Mountain West Conference’s media days.

    -Calhoun was asked what the Falcons’ top strengths would be in 2009. Here was Calhoun’s answer:

    “I think we’ve got a chance at inside linebacker to have a solid group. At safety, I think we’re very capable. And then, we’ll see, but something tells me we’re going to be OK with the offensive line. And if you only went down their weights, you’d say, ‘You’re joking, right?’ But I think those guys will play pretty well together.”

    -Asked if he was surprised by how well his first two teams performed, Calhoun said, “We’ve pushed on that ceiling pretty good the first two years.”

    Calhoun noted that his first two teams stayed healthy – “That’s critical anywhere,” he said, “but I think especially at the Air Force Academy in this league.

    “And the other thing is I love the way we work, and I flat love the attitude of our players. You can’t love coaching guys any more than we do at the Air Force Academy.”

    -While answering a question about the restrictions on recruiting and the difficulties that academic and military obligations foist on Air Force, Calhoun had this to say about the parents of his players:

    “I think I’ve had maybe one parent that’s mentioned the word ‘touches,’” he said. “And I’ve been at some other places where that might be brought up three or four times a week.”

    “Touches,” of course, refers to the amount of times a certain player gets the ball.

  • My Thoughts on the Poll

    Tue, July 21, 2009 by admin with no comments

    No real surprises.

    I think pretty much every media member who submitted a poll put TCU, BYU and Utah in the top three in some order (I did). And I think most probably felt Air Force deserved the fourth spot as “the best of the rest,” given the Falcons’ performance in Troy Calhoun’s two seasons and the amount of returners he has back.

    Something to note about the Falcons’ place in the poll: While they have not yet broken into the MWC’s “Big Three,” their level of respect in the conference has grown markedly.

    In Calhoun’s first two seasons, Air Force was picked to finish seventh and sixth, respectively. It exceeded expectations in both seasons, finishing second and fourth, respectively.

    But that success apparently means Air Force will not be playing the role of the Little Underdog That Could in 2009.

    Not surprisingly, Calhoun doesn’t put too much stock in polls.

    “Shoot, you look six days ago, and you talk about where you’re picked, there was a golfer over there in Scotland who was basically a youngster – 59 (years old). I don’t know where he was picked a week ago,” Calhoun said, referring to British Open runner-up Tom Watson. “You’ve got to play it out.”

  • More on the Depth Chart

    Tue, July 21, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    As noted earlier today in the blog, inside linebacker Ken Lamendola, the Falcons’ leading tackler in 2008, is not listed as a starter in the depth chart that appears in Air Force’s new media guide.

    Lamendola missed nearly all of spring practice with shoulder and ankle injuries.

    “Kenny’s got to show that he’s healthy and ready to go, and if he is, he’s going to play a lot,” Calhoun said. “And he played good football for us last year as a sophomore.

    “All indications right now are that he ought to be OK. And if he is, he’ll do some good things again this year. We’ve just got to get him where he’s healthy.”