2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • SDSU’s Lindley has appreciation for Tim Jefferson

    Fri, July 29, 2011 by admin with no comments

    After conceding that Boise State’s Kellen Moore is the top ranked quarterback in the Mountain West going into this season, the conversation becomes a little more interesting for the second spot.

    San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley is the consensus pick for No. 2, but Air Force’s Tim Jefferson can make a case. The problem is, the two are very tough to compare because they’re entirely opposite. Lindley is a huge pocket passer – he’s predicted to go high in next year’s NFL draft and when you see him in person, it’s easy to see why. Lindley had about three times as many pass attempts as Jefferson last year, but Jefferson runs the triple option offense at an impressive level. Jefferson can’t match Lindley’s passing totals, but Lindley wasn’t sixth in the conference in rushing yards last year, like Jefferson.

    They’re both fantastic quarterbacks in their own way, and Lindley has a lot of respect for Jefferson.

    “You see those guys play and you respect them,” Lindley said. “You’re getting down and dirty with everybody else. The quarterback position, you have a stigma and they razz you a bit – ‘You don’t get hit, you aren’t doing everything everyone else is doing’ – but he’s taking the hits and running as much as anyone else and there’s a lot involved in that. You have to respect a guy that can put all that on his plate and produce.”

    Lindley  said it’s exciting to watch running quarterbacks like Jefferson, and that might be because running is not part of his game. Lindley had minus-31 rushing yards last year, with a long gain of nine yards. He has a lot of strengths but mobility isn’t one of them.

    “I’m never calling for the option,” Lindley said.

  • A funny story from Troy Calhoun

    Thu, July 28, 2011 by admin with 3 comments

    One of the fun things about Mountain West media days is players and coaches are pretty relaxed, before training camp and the intensity of the season begins. I enjoy the hour the print media gets with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, because it’s a chance to chat about a wide variety of topics, and Calhoun usually has interesting opinions to share.

    He also usually shares a funny story or two, and he had a good one when I asked about the first time he experienced a service academy game. The story was actually from his second experience in a service academy game, when he was a freshman and Air Force played Army. I’ll let him take it away:

    “It was snowing sideways, and we got way ahead. We ended up winning 45-7. There’s about six minutes left and Coach DeBerry says ‘Hey rookie, go get warmed up, you’re going in.’ It was so cold. I ran over by the heater – back then we had the screw in cleats – my feet were numb, my hands were numb, the whole bit. I put my feet up by the heater and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Are my feet ever going to thaw out?’ All of a sudden I start smelling smoke, and I look down.

    “I got my own hotfoot. It melted the whole side of my shoe.”

  • Warzeka takes sinister pleasure in yelling at cadets during basic training

    Wed, July 27, 2011 by admin with 1 comment

    Receiver Jonathan Warzeka is a genuinely nice and polite guy, even though there will be a freshman class at Air Force who might recoil in horror when they see him at the academy.

    Warzeka was the assault course cadet in charge during basic training this summer, which basically means he and his squad were in charge of harassing the incoming freshmen. The assault course is probably the most intense part of basic training. Warzeka didn’t help make it any easier, yelling at them to do pushups or testing their mind when they were exhausted by asking questions about Air Force or American history.

    “It’s hilarious being on the other side, making them do the most ridiculous stuff,” Warzeka said.

    And just in case you think the mild-mannered Warzeka didn’t enjoy making life difficult for the incoming cadets, then he starts talking about the part of the assault course in which they put on padding and helmets, grab pugil sticks and start to battle each other.

    “It shows a lot about a person when you get punched in the face, what you’re going to do,” Warzeka said.

    Well, then.

    All joking aside, Warzeka’s job was to transform not just himself into a menacing figure for basic training, but convince his team – which included fellow laid-back Air Force athletes like A.J. Wallerstein, Brady Amack, Taylor Stewart and Michael Lyons – they needed to be mean, too. The point of basic training is to simulate battlefield conditions and push incoming cadets’ limits physically, emotionally and mentally.

    “We’re supposed to be intimidating,” Warzeka said. “You’re supposed to be in their face.”

    Warzeka said he was able to be intimidating, even though that is entirely against his personality. He said other athletes did well to play the role of heckler during basic training.

    “It was pretty funny seeing the other side of people,” Warzeka said.

  • Air Force had plenty of sway in the eight-game conference schedule

    Wed, July 27, 2011 by admin with no comments

    Air Force was adamant that it did not want a nine conference games when the Mountain West expands to a 10-team league for next season and beyond. The Falcons, which play Army and Navy every year in nonconference games, wanted to maintain some scheduling flexibility with four open slots instead of three.

    When it came time to decide the issue, Air Force got what it wanted – and it displayed a bit of power within the conference. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said he preferred a nine-game conference schedule, then was asked why that didn’t happen.

    “Basically, Air Force is concerned with Army and Navy – they’re basically playing 10 conference games,” Thompson said.

    Thompson made it clear that while Air Force may have been a leader in the movement to adopt an eight-game schedule, the Falcons weren’t the sole reason for the decision. Other teams started to have similar concerns – many play Army or Navy, and teams like New Mexico and Colorado State have annual in-state rivalry games it has locked into the schedule.

    “A lot of people are in that same deal,” Thompson said. “They want the flexibility.”

    Another reason for the eight-game schedule is it allows more opportunities for nonconference wins, which could help an additional team or two each season become bowl eligible. Last year the Pac-10 played nine conference games, and teams like Oregon State, Arizona State and Cal weren’t bowl eligible after losing five or six games in conference play.

  • Calhoun prefers a playoff for college football

    Tue, July 26, 2011 by admin with no comments

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is a diehard sports fan, so it wasn’t surprising that he had thought about the playoffs vs. bowls debate that every other college football fan has thought about.

    Calhoun’s opinion: an eight-game playoff, with the bowl system staying intact around that, would work.

    “I think there’s a way you can have both,” Calhoun said. “That way, there’s more participants that legitimately earn a spot. It blows the roof off the current ceiling that’s over the top of college football.”

    Calhoun said he thinks an eight-team field would be the best fit for a playoff.

    “Then, legitimately, the regular season has a strong part to it,” Calhoun said. “And when you have eight teams, you don’t nudge out somebody you really, really feel like is a legitimate Final Four team.”

    Calhoun knew one issue with a playoff is increasing the games in a season, but he pointed out that many high schools play 14 or 15 games, and the NFL plays a much longer schedule.

    Calhoun added that college football is the only sport that doesn’t decide its champion with some sort of playoff structure. He thought a playoff would only increase the popularity of the sport.

    “I think it’s a stamp that helps college football,” Calhoun said.

  • File this away for that Air Force-Boise State game …

    Tue, July 26, 2011 by admin with no comments

    Chris Petersen is a heck of a coach. Under Petersen, the Broncos almost never lost in the WAC, and they’ve become legitimate national title contenders.

    And Petersen will be banking on his coaching skill in mid-October, when he gives his players a crash course in how to defend Air Force’s triple option offense. Based on what Petersen said at Mountain West media days, the first time the Broncos’ scout team mimics Air Force’s offense during practice in October could be the first time his defense sees the triple option.

    TCU’s Gary Patterson is very proud of the fact that he dedicates at least a few portions of practice throughout the year to defending Air Force and its offense. So I wondered if Petersen, whose Boise State team is new to the Mountain West, had prepared at all for Air Force.

    “None,” Petersen said.

    Well … isn’t that going to make it a pretty tough challenge when you see the Falcons for the first time on Oct. 22?

    “Yeah, I think it’s going to be really hard,” Petersen said. “Extremely hard.”

    Petersen explained the reasons. He spends spring working on his own schemes, not preparing for specific opponents. And Boise has seven new league rivals to prepare for, so singling out one would be tough. And he said Boise’s defense is versatile and used to seeing many different looks (although, admittedly, no option looks). That all makes sense.

    Still, there’s a reason TCU prepares for the triple option so much. Oklahoma went in cold last season and gave up 351 rushing yards to Air Force, was nearly upset by the Falcons, and vowed to never watch film of the game.

    Air Force will be a massive underdog at Boise State, which is one of the elite teams in the country. But unless Petersen works some triple option preparation into his training camp plans – he said it’s possible they sneak some in – the Broncos will have six days to teach their players from scratch how to defend Air Force’s difficult offense. That inexperience could be a huge equalizer for the Falcons. Petersen understands that.

    “Air Force is one of the teams where you’re just like, ‘Great, they’re in this league?’” Petersen said.

  • Any All-Mountain West snubs, Air Force fans?

    Tue, July 26, 2011 by admin with 4 comments

    It’s tough to argue with Air Force getting four players on the preseason All-Mountain West team. Guard A.J. Wallerstein, defensive backs Jon Davis and Anthony Wright, and returner Jonathan Warzeka were on the team. Warzeka was named special teams player of the year.

    I don’t know who else would have made it – running back Asher Clark and quarterback Tim Jefferson had very tough competition, and defensive linemen Zach Payne and Ryan Gardner will have to make a bigger name for themselves through this season – but if there’s any Falcons snubs, I’m sure you’ll let me know. Here’s the team, for reference:


    QB – Kellen Moore, Boise State

    RB – Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State; Doug Martin, Boise State

    WR – Phillip Payne, UNLV; Josh Boyce, TCU

    TE – Lucas Reed, New Mexico

    OL – Nate Porter, Boise State; A.J. Wallerstein, Air Force; Kyle Dooley, TCU; Thomas Byrd, Boise State; Paul Madsen, Colorado State


    DL – Billy Winn, Boise State; Shea McClellin, Boise State, Stansly Maponga, TCU; Josh Biezuns, Wyoming

    LB – Tank Carder, TCU; Mychal Sisson, Colorado State; Miles Burris, San Diego State

    DB – George Iloka, Boise State; Leon McFadden, San Diego State; Anthony Wright, Air Force; Jon Davis, Air Force


    P – Brian Stahovich, TCU

    K – James Aho, New Mexico

    Ret. – Jonathan Warzeka, Air Force

  • Rembert hopeful his NFL uncertainty ends soon

    Mon, July 25, 2011 by admin with no comments

    This year’s class of undrafted NFL free agents had it tough. After the draft in late April, there was nothing but silence and uncertainty about when, where or if they would sign with a team.

    Former Air Force cornerback Reggie Rembert was among the players who has been waiting for the labor situation to clear up.

    “It’s been very difficult, to be honest with you,” Rembert said. “I heard from some teams before the draft, and after they couldn’t talk to you.”

    With the lockout being lifted today, undrafted free agents can begin signing with teams at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, according to NFL.com. While some teams might be inundated with veteran free agent negotiations and not have undrafted rookies on the top of their priority list, players like Rembert should have some clarity soon.

    Rembert said his confidence about signing with a NFL team isn’t as high as it was before the draft, but that isn’t surprising considering he and his agent haven’t had any contact with a NFL team for three months. Rembert said he has been able to do some one-on-one drills and stay in shape in preparation for the end of the lockout. He has no idea what will happen this week, but he’s ready, even if he has to wait around a few days for the call he has been hoping for.

    “I’ve waited this long,” Rembert said. “Another week or a couple more weeks, that’s nothing compared to what it has been.”

  • College football must be getting close: Mountain West media days start tomorrow

    Mon, July 25, 2011 by admin with no comments

    Just a reminder that I’ll be at media days tomorrow, offering up Air Force news throughout the day, the All-Mountain West team and preseason picks, and any more news from around the conference. Will also be logging some thoughts on Twitter @GazetteAirForce. Join me there, if you haven’t already.

    Here’s a story explaining why Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson won’t be at the event (most teams bring their two best players). Good photos by The Gazette’s Mark Reis to go along with the story.

  • Hockey: Mercyhurst loses AHA top rookie to Penn State

    Mon, July 25, 2011 by admin with no comments

    College Hockey News reports that Atlantic Hockey Association Rookie of the Year Taylor Holmstrom of Mercyhurst will transfer to Penn State.

    Lakers teammate Nate Jensen is also leaving for the Nittany Lions.