• Air Force Week on The Mtn. Begins Monday

    Wed, May 26, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    The Mtn. will begin its annual “Nine Schools, Nine Weeks” programming starting this coming Monday with Air Force week.

    During each school’s week, programming on The Mtn. will consist of memorable games in the school’s history and shows featuring teams from the school.

    Next week, two original programs will debut: “A Conversation with … Troy Calhoun” (Monday at 7 p.m.) and “The Other Side of the Mountain: Fisher DeBerry” (Wednesday at 6 p.m.).

    In addition, I’ll be a guest on an all-Air Force edition of the Around the Mountain program along with the great Jim Arthur, the Falcons’ radio play-by-play man for football and men’s basketball. It will air on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

  • First Look: San Diego State

    Tue, May 25, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    This is Part 7 of my “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. We move this week to the Falcons’ Week 7 opponent – San Diego State.

    Here are links to the First Looks at the Falcons’ opponents in the first half of the season: Northwestern State, BYU, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Navy and Colorado State.

    San Diego State
    Coach:
    Brady Hoke (2nd year)
    2009 Record: 4-8 (2-6, 7th in Mountain West Conference)
    2009 vs. AF: Air Force 26, San Diego State 14
    2009 in a Sentence: The Aztecs started 4-4 under Hoke – sparking thoughts of a trip to a bowl game – but lost their last four games.
    Off/Def Starters Back: 9/8
    Roster Report: The Aztecs could boast one of the top passing attacks in the MWC in 2010.

    San Diego State returns quarterback Ryan Lindley along with two receivers who are among the league’s best – DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown.

    As a sophomore last season, Lindley completed 239-of-437 passes (54.7 percent) for 3,054 yards, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Sampson made 62 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, while Brown grabbed 45 passes for 778 yards and six touchdowns. And Brown’s numbers were compiled all in the first half of the season, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Aztecs’ seventh game.

    “Having Vince back and DeMarco, how he came on at the end of last year, is a big plus for us,” Hoke said. “I think that will help us offensively getting the ball down the field a little more and trying to stretch defenses.”

    Defensively, the Aztecs have all three of last year’s starting defensive linemen back, including 6-foot-3, 285-pound Ernie Lawson, who has been moved from tackle to left end.

    “With what we do, we thought the move of Ernie over to the left end makes us a little more stout,” Hoke said. “I think he also is a guy who has the quickness you want in your ends. And then I think the development of Jerome Long (6-5, 290), playing inside as a tackle, and getting Neil Spencer (6-2, 285) back was even more of a luxury for us to move Ernie. But I think it’s really helped us defensively throughout the spring.”

    San Diego State also will add defensive lineman Perry Jackson (6-2, 245), a transfer from Sierra College, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered last year. “I think we’ll have a full recovery by him,” Hoke said.

    Andrew Preston, a 6-1, 215-pound senior from Centennial (Arapahoe High), was moved from linebacker to San Diego State’s “Aztec” position (a kind of linebacker/defensive back hybrid spot).

    A key for the defense, according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, is playing man-to-man coverage more effectively so defensive coordinator Rocky Long’s defense can employ more blitzes. It seems the Aztecs will have a better secondary this season.

    “We really believe that we’ve got some young guys who redshirted a year ago – that we got close to playing, believe me – but we thought they needed a good fall academically and a fall within the program,” Hoke said. “But I thought in the spring, I think Nat Berhe and Gabe Lemon did a nice job, Marcus Andrews, Colin Lockett (all four are redshirt freshmen).

    “I thought (6-3, 200-pound sophomore) Eric Pinkins and (5-11, 195-pound sophomore) Khalid Stevens all have the demeanor we’re looking for from our safeties and the athleticism. So I think that’s helped us.”

    The Union-Tribune reported that defenses dominated in San Diego State’s annual Red and Black scrimmage, combining for eight sacks and 26 tackles for losses.

    Fast Fact: San Diego State ranked 116th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams last season in rushing (78.3 yards per game). That has to change for the Aztecs to be a factor in the MWC.

    “As soon as we start running the football better, we’re going to start playing better and we’re going to start winning games,” San Diego State offensive coordinator Al Borges told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “A lot of things change in every area when you run the ball better. We were so dependent on throwing the ball last year it killed us, particularly in crucial situations.”

    What Caught My Eye: San Diego State held spring practices almost as early as Air Force. The Aztecs opened drills on Feb. 20 (two days after the Falcons) and finished on March 20. The other seven MWC schools didn’t start spring drills until March and didn’t finish until April.

    Why did the Aztecs go so early? Well, it gave coaches more time to concentrate on spring recruiting, and it gave players a chance to concentrate on academics. It also meant – as Air Force coach Troy Calhoun has said – that if a player got injured, he had more time to get healthy before fall camp. But seemingly most importantly, the early dates for spring practice gave the Aztecs more time in the weight room prior to the summer.

    “It’s allowed us to have a good six weeks of our kids after spring ball in the various things we’re trying to get done, strength-wise,” Hoke said. “I think we’re making some improvements there in the weight room, but we’re still not a strong football team. But that’s one of the things that we really need to keep focusing on is our development physically.”

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: Air Force minus-10. The Falcons have had little trouble with San Diego State under Calhoun, beating the Aztecs by scores of 55-23, 35-10 and 26-14. No reason Air Force should not be a significant favorite.

    Final Thought: San Diego State, to me, is the sleeping giant of the MWC. The Aztecs seemingly always have the athletes. But that hasn’t translated to victories in a while.

    Hoke seems like the kind of no-nonsense coach who could find a way to make the Aztecs meet their potential. We’ll see if he can do it.

  • How long does it take to revive an Air Force sports team?

    Tue, May 25, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Let’s take a look at history and see how long it took Ken Hatfield, Joe Scott and Frank Serratore:

    http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/

  • Air Force Makes it Official – Announces Williams Hiring

    Mon, May 24, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    As expected, Air Force has hired former South Florida assistant Andrea Williams as its new head women’s basketball coach. See my article here. For more on Williams, find the article we ran last week reporting the academy was planning to hire her at this link.

    Williams becomes the academy’s only black head coach.

  • Volkening, Neubauer Take Air Force’s Athlete of the Year Awards

    Mon, May 24, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force announced its major, end-of-season awards today.

    Senior Andrew Volkening, a goalie on the Falcons’ ice hockey team, and senior track and field athlete Sara Neubauer were named the male and female athletes of the year, respectively. Nick Charles, a guard on the football team, won the athletic excellence award; senior cross country athlete Brittany Morreale won the scholar-athlete award; and senior fencer Peter French was given the athletic achievement award.

  • Bad News for BYU; Good News for Falcons

    Mon, May 24, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force won’t have to face BYU running back Harvey Unga this season, as BYU administrators have declined Unga’s request to be readmitted in the fall.

    Unga, the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher, withdrew from classes in April because he said he violated the school’s honor code. He asked to return, but the school decided he could not return until January at the earliest.

    Unga was a big part of BYU’s last three victories over Air Force, compiling 266 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 52 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and 79 yards receiving and one touchdown on 11 catches.

  • AFA baseball: Goodbye to the Hutcheon era, Part One

    Mon, May 24, 2010 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Farewell to AFA baseball coach Mike Hutcheon:

    http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/

  • Will former Broncos GM Ted Sundquist ever return to AFA?

    Sat, May 22, 2010 by David Ramsey with 5 comments

    He once said he would “love” to return:

    http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/

  • Stucky Continues to Believe

    Sat, May 22, 2010 by admin with no comments

    In today’s paper is an article I wrote about an Air Force basketball player you might not know very well – Scott Stucky.

    You might not know him well because the 6-foot-2 guard has yet to play in a game for the Falcons. Back-to-back ACL tears stole his freshman and sophomore seasons.

    But Stucky hasn’t quit. And he holds out hope he’ll be able to make a contribution in his last two seasons. It was difficult, he said, not being able to play. Air Force’s troubles on the court (1-31 in Mountain West Conference regular season play in the two seasons) made it worse.

    “I knew about the glory days, and now things have gone south,” Stucky said. “I want to be part of the team that turns things back around and gets Air Force basketball back on its feet. Hopefully we’ll get that done in the next two years.”

    Here’s my article on Stucky.

  • Hutcheon Reflects

    Fri, May 21, 2010 by admin with 5 comments

    Air Force’s baseball team lost to BYU, 18-4, this afternoon to fall to 12-40, including 2-20 in Mountain West Conference play.

    Tomorrow’s season finale will be the Falcons’ last game under coach Mike Hutcheon, who announced he would be resigning in mid-April, effective at the end of the season.

    Hutcheon had a turbulent career filled with off-field controversies and on-field losses. I had a chance to talk to him after Friday’s 16-6 loss to the Cougars about his tenure and future.

    Gazette: This is your farewell series, is that kind of strange?
    Mike Hutcheon: Not really, because we’ve kind of known about it for a while. Just trying to go out on a good note and trying to get these guys some momentum into the summer and into the fall. So that’s what we’re trying to finish up with.

    G: Will it be difficult for you, the last game?
    MH: Haven’t really thought about it too much. I’m going to miss, obviously, the guys and the players that we’ve gotten close to and those kind of things. But it’s time. I think it’s time to move on and to turn the page and to continue to gain some momentum with my career as well, try to get that back, kind of re-establish myself. So it’s kind of bittersweet.

    G: What made you decide this was it for you?
    MH: It just got too tough. It was just the grind. I think the grind of just the academy, trying to compete at a high level. And I think we felt like we were making some headway, and you take two steps forward and take a step back on either academic hits or honor hits or alcohol hits. Just the whole, I think, seven years of just the grind. And I think you talk to a lot of coaches here, and a lot will tell you the same thing, that after a while it just kind of wears you down to where either you stay and be mediocre or you decide to turn the page and to go somewhere where you can revitalize your career. I came to the conclusion that I felt like I could do everything I could do here. And it just became a situation where we kind of felt like it was a no-win for a lot of different reasons. So it was more a career decision of whether or not I wanted to continue this grind or step back and kind of try to re-energize myself and just kind of get that energy back. And losing does that to you. No matter what sport it is, it just wears on you in every aspect of what you do. And the program needed it too. I think it needed kind of a change, just change the guard, get some new blood in here, some new energy in here and see what they can do. But we felt like we exhausted everything as a staff that we could have done.

    G: There were some outside forces that were not happy with you. How much of an influence did that have on your decision?
    MH: I think that’s expected. Any time you’re not winning – people expect great things, which is obvious. No matter what program you’re at, different levels you’ve got different expectations. And the expectations here are always high. And things have changed a lot since I started and 10 years before that. So I think people don’t realize the expectations are different now and what’s expected and being in the Mountain West and playing the schedule you have to play. And the rules changed a little bit with pro ball. And as far as the kids go, they haven’t changed. They’ve always been the same type of players we’ve always gotten. I think the circumstances have changed and it’s been hard for people to understand that – that circumstances change but the players don’t change, and you’re still getting the same kind of kid. And it’s tough. You always want to be recognized for doing things well, and when people don’t see it that way, it’s not easy to be criticized. But at the same time I think it’s expected in this profession. If you don’t win, you’re gonna get hammered. It kind of comes with the territory, I guess.

    G: Any regrets or anything you’d do differently if you had it over?
    MH: I wish we could have won more and taken this program to the level we wanted to, but I don’t think anybody’s ever done that. So it’s really hard to say the program’s been at a state to say where you’d like to maintain it or take it to a new level. So that’s a regret to say we haven’t taken it to a new level from a wins and losses standpoint. But, really, when you look back on it, I don’t think there’s anything else we could have done different, we tried to abide by what the academy’s mission was, we held up the rules and we followed the rules. I thought we recruited really well. I thought our talent level got better. But just the momentum of the program always stalls out when you don’t win on a consistent basis and you lose guys due to different hits. We just never could maintain that momentum you need for a three- or four-year period where you could keep guys together and kind of learn how to win and start winning big games, and we never got to that point in our tenure we were here. It felt like we were on our way, but we just kept going backwards.

    G: What’s next for you?
    MH: I’ve got a couple years (on contract at the academy), which is nice, to kind of look at it if I need to. Being in coaching for 23 years, I’ve acquired a lot of contacts. So right now just trying to get a hold of everybody out there in the field and let them know that I’m available and would like to try to stay in it. The longer you’re out, the harder it is. But it’s a pretty good fraternity of guys. We’ve all known each other, and you always get second chances to get back in, maybe as an assistant somewhere, and maybe get that energy back a little bit. So it would be nice to step back as an assistant, and that’s what I’d like to do, if possible. But after that two years, you’ve got a family, so you’ve got to make money and do what you’ve got to do, but I’d like to stay in baseball if I could.