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  • Last look at position battles before the depth chart is released Monday

    Sun, August 28, 2011 by admin with 1 comment

    As I’ve said in the blog, the only starting spots I really think were up for grabs in the final week of Air Force’s training camp were outside linebacker, cornerback and kicker – and right offensive tackle, as long as left guard is up in the air because of injury. I’d be absolutely shocked if Wes Cobb isn’t the fullback. The same goes for Ben Kopacka at defensive end. David Baska will be the punter. The other starting spots were settled long ago.

    So, while we wait to see the depth chart for the Sept. 3 opener against South Dakota (which should be released tomorrow), here’s my final analysis on the open jobs:

    Cornerback: Steffon Batts spent most of the past couple weeks with the starters, but Chris Miller was coming on late. Miller, a talented sophomore with some experience, was the safe bet to win the job coming into camp, and made a lot of plays in August. Don’t be surprised if he ends up as the starter in the opener.

    Outside linebacker: Even thought Jamil Cooks got a long look late in camp with the starters, Alex Means has a bit more experience. Cooks and Means will play, but if I had to guess, I’d give Means a slight edge for the starting job, but could also see Cooks in the base defense and Means in the nickel package (which would be a fairly even split with how often Air Force uses five defensive backs).

    Kicker: I didn’t see any evidence Erik Soderberg had overtaken Parker Herrington to win the placekicking job. Herrington starting the season as Air Force’s kicker would be a bit of an upset, considering Soderberg was very good as a sophomore two years ago, but Herrington seemed to have the lead for much of camp. I’d guess Herrington will kick field goals in the opener and Soderberg will handle kickoffs, but Soderberg does have the experience edge if the coaches want to play it safe.

    Right offensive tackle: A quick recap, because it is up in the air going into the season opener. Left guard Jordan Eason’s availability for the season opener is in doubt because of a knee injury. Jeffrey Benson is a candidate to take over there, but he has been working at center. He missed time during camp with a knee injury too. Air Force reshuffled the line with Eason out, and Jerry Henry took most of the reps at right tackle ahead of Alex Huskisson. Neither one has any game experience, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either on the first team in the opener, if the line remains in flux. I’d give Henry a slight edge just because he has logged more time with the first team.

  • Air Force linebacker Patrick Hennessey’s fortunate injury

    Fri, August 26, 2011 by admin with no comments

    After multiple shoulder surgeries, outside linebacker Patrick Hennessey was understandably upset when he slightly tore the capsule in the front of his shoulder against TCU last season. However, that turned out to be the best thing for him.

    Hennessey said surgeries had made the capsule on his shoulder too tight, giving him discomfort. That changed after the injury.

    “Actually, it feels a lot better since then,” Hennessey said. “When I had problems, it was when I was engaging a blocker in front of me, my shoulder hurt in the back, but since the front is torn a little, it gives me a little more mobility.”

    With more mobility, Hennessey said he doesn’t worry about his shoulder anymore. He hasn’t had any problems in training camp, which is good news for the Falcons. The senior, who is back for his fifth year, is a key member of the defense, as long as he stays healthy.

    “Better than ever, for the most part,” Hennessey said.

  • Is it important to you for Air Force to play CU in football? Let me know

    Thu, August 25, 2011 by David Ramsey with 8 comments

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  • Hockey, hoops keep radio home

    Wed, August 24, 2011 by admin with 5 comments

    KVOR/KCSF have signed a three-year agreement with the academy to continue broadcasting men’s and women’s basketball and hockey.

    The men will be on KVOR (740 AM) with hockey and women’s hoops on 1300 AM KCSF as before.

  • Air Force could change up formations to generate a pass rush

    Wed, August 24, 2011 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force has gone with three down linemen on most plays in recent years, but that could change this year, at least on passing downs.

    The Falcons have been toying with the idea of using a fourth down lineman on passing downs. The Falcons would probably have an outside linebacker (Alex Means is seemingly the best candidate) put his hand down on passing downs to play a defensive end spot, especially when the team uses five defensive backs in its nickel package. Another down lineman might give them a little more speed off the edge.

    “We’re looking to get our four best pass rushers out there, start with their hand on the dirt, and being able to generate some edge pressure,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “That’s something we’ve worked on extremely hard over the last three-and-a-half weeks.”

    Air Force had just 14 sacks last season. The coaches weren’t necessarily displeased with the pass rush, however, but a little creativity could help the Falcons improve that number.

  • Air Force football: Monday’s training camp report

    Mon, August 22, 2011 by admin with 2 comments

    Couple of quick notes today:

    - Center/guard Jeffrey Benson was back at practice without the red jersey on, so he was full go. He might have enough time to earn a starting spot at left guard, if Jordan Eason is still out and if the coaches want to reshuffle the line. Either way, Benson’s return is good for depth.

    - I continue to be impressed by Acey Palmer, a young receiver who made another very nice catch in one-on-one drills today. Tough to say how much he’ll play, but he’s someone to keep an eye on in the future. Like I said Saturday, he can be inconsistent. He has to clean that up.

    - Jamil Cooks is still with the first-team defense, but I don’t think that position has been decided. But Cooks is a great talent – he’s going to play whether he starts or not.

    - This will be the last training camp report – the Falcons start full preparation for the season opener tomorrow and so there are sensitive issues that I can’t report on. But there will still be plenty of daily information here on the blog as we go, so stay tuned.

  • Air Force football: Saturday’s training camp report

    Sat, August 20, 2011 by admin with 8 comments

    There was a pretty good crowd at Falcon Stadium for the Kids’ Day festivities, and the scrimmage. Here’s some highlights from the football side of it:

    - Outside linebacker Jamil Cooks showed up with the first-team defense again on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said nothing should be read into that alignment, because players were getting moved around in different packages. But there is at least a little significance to Cooks’ move this late in camp. This might be the most wide open of the remaining starting position battles.

    - The cornerback position opposite Anthony Wright hasn’t been settled yet, and probably won’t be until the end of next week. Steffon Batts has been with the starters all week, but Chris Miller had a nice interception Saturday. Josh Hall is also in the mix. Batts probably needs to have a good week next week to win the job.

    - Parker Herrington still seems like the leader in the placekicker race. Erik Soderberg has been the primary kickoff specialist. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said those two are even for the placekicker job.

    - The backup tailback spot seems to have a new leader, as Anthony LaCoste took most of the first reps with the starting offense on Saturday. Darius Jones did have a nice run of about 15 yards, followed by an 8-yard run, so he should still be a factor.

    - Receiver Acey Palmer is coming on strong. He had a few very nice plays on Saturday including an impressive catch down the sideline. He does have a problem with consistency, which isn’t surprising for a young player. But he could be a factor this season if he continues to make plays.

    - Brandon Hirneise made a very nice play, grabbing what would have been a 97-yard touchdown after beating the defense deep (the coaches whistled it and said it would have been a sack, but it didn’t take away from Hirneise’s play). Hirneise started camp as the primary backup to Zack Kauth, lost some ground to Mikel Hunter when he missed some days with a minor injury, but should still be a big part of the offense.

    - Wes Cobb didn’t do anything to lose ground at fullback, getting a tough 10-yard touchdown.

    “I think Wes Cobb is a warrior,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “He’s a rock in there.”

    Mike DeWitt also had a short touchdown run later. He might enter the season as the backup, but Calhoun singled out both fullbacks when asked who has stood out in camp this week.

    “Both the fullbacks, you see, are capable guys,” Calhoun said.

    If there’s a third fullback getting in the mix, it could be Broam Hart, who got plenty of work Saturday.

  • Air Force football: Friday’s training camp report

    Fri, August 19, 2011 by admin with 2 comments

    The Falcons had a light and quick day, with a scrimmage set for Saturday. Here’s what transpired today:

    - The right tackle spot is still in flux, at least as long as Jordan Eason and Jeffrey Benson are out with knee injuries. Alex Huskisson had been working at right tackle with the first team, and Jerry Henry got some time there today. It will be interesting to see the lineup tomorrow. When everyone is healthy, Kevin Whitt will line up at right tackle, with A.J. Wallerstein at right guard and Jordan Eason at left guard. But there are no guarantees everyone will be healthy by the opener.

    - By a quick count, I think there are still three starting battles that are still too close to call or don’t have a clear favorite, including the specialists. I don’t think cornerback has been decided, even though Steffon Batts has been the starter in practice this week. I’m not sure Alex Means is locked in at outside linebacker, even though he has taken the majority of reps with the starters. Jamil Cooks or Stephan Atrice have also spent time with the starters through camp. And at kicker, Parker Herrington and Erik Soderberg are still battling. (And right tackle is, as mentioned, up in the air, but it won’t be once everyone is healthy.) To have only three open spots this late in camp is a good sign – a sign of a veteran team with very defined roles.

    - One player I’ll be keeping an eye on during Saturday’s scrimmage is Ty MacArthur. He’s a receiver backing up Jonathan Warzeka, and he has been getting a long look from the coaches. The Falcons can’t afford to give Warzeka all the snaps, because he needs to stay fresh. MacArthur could go from a virtual unknown to playing a lot if he finishes camp strong.

  • Air Force football: Thursday’s practice cancelled, but here’s some links to get you through

    Thu, August 18, 2011 by admin with 1 comment

    Air Force called practice off today, for the second straight week. Smart move, there’s no need to run a veteran team into the ground in August.

    Here’s some links to stories in The Gazette this week:

    - Air Force wants to improve on special teams. I know adding the title of special teams coordinator to Ben Miller’s job description probably isn’t a big deal, but it’s symbolic at least. Calhoun didn’t have a special teams coordinator for any of his first four seasons.

    - Speaking of special teams, had a fun time breaking down film with Jonathan Warzeka for this story on the art of being a kickoff returner. He’s one of the best at it.

    - Here’s an update on Tim Jefferson, and his lack of interest in setting individual records.

    - A couple notes today, led off by defensive end Ben Kopacka’s recovery from knee surgery.

  • Can Air Force’s smallish offensive line protect Jefferson when he passes?

    Thu, August 18, 2011 by David Ramsey with no comments

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