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  • Pro Watch – Garland

    Tue, May 4, 2010 by admin with 7 comments

    As noted in a post below, the blog will be keeping track of two former Air Force players – Chad Hall and Ben Garland – trying to make NFL rosters.

    The previous post deals with Hall. For information on Garland, check out Frank Schwab’s Broncos blog. It has Denver coach Josh McDaniels’ thoughts on Garland.

  • Broncos Sign Garland

    Mon, April 26, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    The Denver Broncos have signed Air Force senior nose guard to a free-agent contract.

    Gazette Broncos beat writer Frank Schwab’s article is here.

  • Clearing out the Football Notebook – Part 2

    Sun, March 21, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    Here are the last few tidbits from Air Force’s spring football practices. For Part 1 of this blog, scroll down.

    Demerath Ready: In addition to replacing all five starters on the offensive line, Air Force has to replace its 2009 starter at tight end, Sean Quintana.

    But junior Chaz Demerath appears ready to take over the position. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Demerath is by no means a neophyte. He played in 11 games last season, starting two, and caught five passes for 25 yards.

    “I’ve been waiting for the chance to get the full role for myself,” Demerath said. “Nothing against (Quintana) or anything like that, but I was ready for my turn.”

    Calhoun said Demerath “had a good spring.”

    Gardner Garners Rave Reviews: As I noted in my Five Spring Developments, which appeared in the paper, sophomore Ryan Gardner had a very good spring and seems ready to replace the outstanding Ben Garland.

    Coaches gave Gardner good marks for his performance in the spring, as did junior defensive end Rick Rickets, the lone returning starter on the defensive line.

    “Ryan’s done really well,” Ricketts said. “I think he’s just come into (spring) camp, and he’s really just taken that spot. There’s really no doubt he’ll be the number one guy going into the fall. He’s also helping out the young guys a lot.”

    Asked what Gardner does well, Ricketts said:

    “He’s not a very big guy, but he’s able to use leverage and get under guys even more than Ben did. He wrestled in high school, and you can really tell that helps him out a lot. Even though he’s really small, he’s been able to man-handle people twice as big – even last year and in the spring.

    Jones Impresses: Freshman tailback Darius Jones made one of the most positive impressions in the spring.

    He ran hard and broke a handful of big runs in scrimmage situations. And he got a lot of work.

    “It was welcome,” Jones said. “I was definitely ready to step up and become a part of this team.”

    Jones said the work he did after the 2009 season with strength and conditioning coach Matt McGettigan has helped his core strength and improved his balance, speed and acceleration.

    He said in the summer he wanted to continue to work on his speed and cutting ability and also put on some more weight. He’s at about 168 pounds and hopes to add about 10 more.

    Jones said he hoped he and fellow freshman tailback Cody Getz can be the change-up for starter Asher Clark.

    “Hope to be that one-two punch,” Jones said. “And if Asher gets tired we won’t skip a beat when they put in either one of us.”

  • Football Practice Notes

    Sat, March 6, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Some notes from the last couple Air Force football practices:

    -Linebackers in limbo: Taking a look around the field at Falcon Stadium today, I saw junior outside linebacker Patrick Hennessey in a red jersey and not in pads; junior inside linebacker Ken Lamendola in a wheel chair (he had another knee surgery); freshman outside linebacker Alex Means with his right foot in a protective boot; and Brady Amack with his left knee wrapped and in a brace.

    “Yeah,” defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said after practice. “Did you see that bottle of Pepto-Bismol in my hand?”

    Kidding aside, Wallerstedt said all indications are that the injured linebackers will recover “and we’ll have plenty of time in August to get them revved up.”

    But there’s always some worry about how players recover from injuries. Lamendola, in particular, is dealing with a rebuilt ACL.

    “Those guys gotta get healthy,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “Those guys have played, so at least they’ve had some experiences. But they’re guys that they better get healthy and they better get healthy in a hurry so they can get in the weight room so they’re ready on Aug. 1.”

    The silver lining of the injuries has been getting younger, inexperienced players some reps in the spring. Wallerstedt declined to single out any players but said there are about five or six competing for time both at inside and outside linebacker.

    “More numbers than we’ve had since I’ve been here the last couple years that should contribute,” Wallerstedt said.

    -Jones, DeWitt, Hall impressing: The player who has made the most attention-grabbing plays so far this spring? Perhaps freshman tailback Darius Jones.

    The 5-foot-9, 160-pound back out of Atlanta, Ga., ripped off about a 70-yard touchdown run this morning. He’s made a bunch of big runs this spring.

    “He has,” Calhoun said. “I thought in our scrimmage last Saturday and today he has had a couple of runs. He’s been a guy that’s come on. And I thought he might this spring. He’s definitely made some strides.”

    Calhoun also mentioned freshman fullback Mike DeWitt and sophomore cornerback Josh Hall as players who have stood out in the spring.

    “Those are some guys who you see are making some improvements,” Calhoun said.

    The 6-1, 215-pound DeWitt played on the Falcons’ junior varsity. Hall saw some time last season on the varsity.

    Hall was listed last season at 6-0 and 175 pounds, but the long and lean corner looks like he’s about 120. Calhoun said Hall “would be the perfect redshirt kid,” but noted the sophomore has improved his strength.

    “You can just tell he’s so much stronger,” Calhoun said. “Before he was built like the center field foul pole. Where now you can see him. Before you couldn’t see him because he was so skinny.”

    Calhoun also said Hall is a “bright kid. He’s through-the-roof sharp.”

    -D-line developing: Perhaps the biggest graduation loss the Falcons suffered was that of nose guard Ben Garland. But Calhoun said Saturday that Garland’s potential replacement, sophomore Ryan Gardner, has started to “come to the forefront a little bit.”

    Calhoun also mentioned the development of sophomore defensive end Zach Payne.

    “Those are guys that you kind of notice that, OK, they’re getting ready to head into their third year,” Calhoun said.

  • Anything Possible with Garland

    Fri, March 5, 2010 by admin with 6 comments

    I’ve been seeing Ben Garland out at spring football practices. He’s giving advice and pointers to the Falcons’ returning defensive linemen.

    Garland, who was a force as a nose guard in 2009, looks like he still could suit up and be a difference maker. And there’s a reason for that. Garland is staying in playing shape to impress scouts at Air Force’s pro day.

    That means Garland is at about 290 pounds.

    That’s particularly interesting because Garland has earned a pilot training slot and will begin pilot training after graduation.

    According to Garland, before he goes to pilot training, he’s going to have to get down to about 220 pounds (he needs to weigh no more than 235 with gear before he flies).

    But, as he’s going through pro day, he still holds some dreams of the NFL. Could he really go from 290 down to 220 and then back up to 290 (or thereabouts) after a couple years of flying to try to make an NFL roster?

    Is that possible?

    “It’ll be tough,” Garland said with a smile. “But (former academy defensive lineman, pilot and NFL player) Chad Hennings did it.”

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun wouldn’t bet against Garland.

    “Any time you use the word ‘possible,’ and it involves Ben Garland, it is,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “That’s just what he’s made of. … He’s a good football player, and he’s a phenomenal kid. He’s one of those guys you want in the Air Force. In 15, 20 years he needs to be in a capacity, leadership-wise. All the way around the block, the guy’s a stud. There’s just no other way to put it.”

  • Friday Morning Links

    Fri, February 26, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force held its sixth “spring” football practice in the snow and cold at Falcon Stadium yesterday. One of the biggest tasks in front of the Falcons is figuring out how to replace standout nose guard Ben Garland, who will graduate in May.

    When I did an article on Garland last fall, I spoke to Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who heaped praise on Garland. He said Navy “could not block him,” and he called Garland “an all-time great” at the academy.

    Navy won’t miss Garland. Air Force will. Big time.

    Moving to the ice, Air Force plays host to Sacred Heart tonight and Saturday. Gazette hockey writer Joe Paisley checks in on the Falcons and the defensive duo of Tim Kirby and Scott Mathis.

    Also, keep an eye on what happens this weekend with the Air Force baseball team. After an 0-4 start, the Falcons meet Navy for a three-game series in Georgia, starting today. The Falcons went 12-136 in Mountain West Conference competition in Mike Hutcheon’s first six seasons at the academy (no, really, 12-136). And I’m not exactly expecting them to challenge for the MWC crown this season. But shouldn’t Air Force expect to beat another service academy?

  • Football Odds and Ends

    Thu, February 25, 2010 by admin with no comments

    I’m heading off to Falcon Stadium momentarily to watch Air Force’s sixth – yes, sixth – spring practice.

    Here are some odds and ends from the first third of spring drills:

    Connor transition: Junior Bradley Connor still has “a ways to go,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said, to settle in at offensive guard. Connor was moved to the offensive line from nose guard prior to the start of spring practices.

    “Great work ethic, a guy that loves playing football,” Calhoun said of Connor. “Skill-wise, there are still some things he’s got to pick up as far as being an offensive guard. He was a heck of a wrestler in high school, so just the natural body control he’s got. You want to see him be more sudden coming off the ball. He’s got to get where he knows what to do so well that he’s a little quicker coming off the football. Right now he’s a little bit late coming off the ball.”

    Replacing Geyer: One of the Falcons’ biggest graduation losses was Brandon Geyer, Air Force’s punter last season and its holder the last three seasons.

    Calhoun said there’s “probably a good chance” junior Ben Cochran will take over as the Falcons’ holder.

    “He was the backup holder last year, he’s a baseball player, he’s got great hand-eye,” Calhoun said. “That part of it you really, really like.”

    As for who will step in at punter, that’s a long ways from being resolved.

    “We look good in pregame, we hit the ball really well in warmups, and then as soon as we get in drills – not even close, just very, very inconsistent,” Calhoun said.

    “We’ve got guys that are capable – really, really capable. But nobody’s stepped forward at all. Even getting a 35-yard punt doesn’t happen that often right now. And even when they’re 29- and 30-yard punts, they’re flat, line drives.”

    No. 2 Tailback: Unlike last year, when Asher Clark spent spring practice playing quarterback, Clark is working at tailback.

    But the Falcons should have some depth at the spot. Freshmen Cody Getz and Darius Jones both have shown some spark early in spring drills.

    “Cody’s probably a bit ahead of Darius right now,” Calhoun said. “Especially with ball skills. Just the ball doesn’t go on the ground quite as much, either catching a pitch or running it. But both of those guys, they’re intriguing guys. I think spring ball for them is significant in terms of what they do over these next 10 practices.”

    Calhoun said if the Falcons were to play today, Getz would be Clark’s backup. The number three tailback would be either Jones or junior Savier Stephens.

    Coming in tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette: A look at the massive hole in the middle of the Falcons’ defense left by the departure of Ben Garland.

  • Notes from the Last Football Practice of 2009 at AFA

    Wed, December 16, 2009 by admin with 3 comments

    A few odds and ends from today’s football practice …

    -After about six months, Savier Stephens finally has lifted his self-imposed media ban.

    The junior running back decided last spring to refrain from talking to the press because “he hadn’t done anything yet.” And, despite some fairly good outings during the regular season, he continued to decline interview requests from reporters.

    But today after practice, Stephens waited until I’d finished an interview so he could tell me he was ready to start talking again.

    I, of course, joked that I was now not talking to him, which got a laugh from him. But I was curious what brought on the change of heart. It wasn’t that Stephens felt he’d “done anything,” he said, but he did say he felt like he’d “changed some things.”

    “I feel like last year I was playing for the wrong reasons – as far as the center-of-attention-type things,” he said. “I don’t want to say playing selfish, but it affected my performance. This year I don’t feel like I did much better, but my head was in the right place, so I felt like I was out here for the right reasons.

    “I just wanted to feel like I’m not just dead weight,” he continued. “I expected more. I felt I had potential but I wasn’t producing. This year, if you look just blocking-wise and whatnot, and I did have some carries – I didn’t get as many as I would have liked – but I feel like I did better on the whole, mentally and physically.”

    So is Stephens ready for a big senior year?

    “Yes,” he said. “I’m gonna try to keep the same mindset, so hopefully I won’t not talk to y’all (reporters) and just play for the right reasons. I’m just out here for my brothers. I’m going to be a fighter pilot that serves my country, not an NFL player, realistically, so I just have to be out here for the right reasons.”

    Pretty cool to hear that.

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said Stephens had “a solid year,” and added that “just as a young man, it’s been awesome to see how much he’s been able to grow as a person.”

    -Senior strong safety Chris Thomas will play in the East-West Shrine Game, a postseason all-star game, on Jan. 23 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orland, Fla. (See the rosters here).

    The Shrine Game is the oldest of such games, having been played since 1925.

    Thomas was the lone Air Force senior selected to play in a postseason all-star game. Thought the Falcons should have had more guys picked. Ben Garland should have been a no-brainer.

    -One other thing on Thomas – he walked off the practice field today with blood running down his face.

    Not an uncommon sight. So I asked Calhoun if Thomas ever has left a practice without blood on his face.

    “Only a few,” Calhoun said. “That’s when you know the world is in the right kind of balance – whenever Thomas is bleeding.”

    -Today’s practice was the Falcons’ last until Dec. 26, when they reconvene in Fort Worth. Calhoun said his players needed some time off, especially after final exams and a full semester of work. But while a few days off “will be healthy for them,” Calhoun said players have to continue to work out.

    “They’ve got to lift, they’ve got to get out and do some aerobic activity and then be ready to work when we get there,” Calhoun said.

    -Sophomore quarterback Connor Dietz and junior slot receiver Kyle Halderman both practiced in red jerseys today.

    “They’ve been able to move physically,” Calhoun said. “Dietz has been able to throw, and he should be completely cleared when we go down there (to Fort Worth). What I think will be important for all those guys, but certainly those two, will be what they do here in the next 10 days.”

  • All-MWC Football Teams Awards

    Tue, December 1, 2009 by admin with 3 comments

    The All-Mountain West Conference football teams were announced this afternoon, and just one Air Force player – junior cornerback Reggie Rembert – earned first-team honors.

    Six Falcons were named to the second team: Junior fullback Jared Tew, senior guards Nick Charles and Peter Lusk, sophomore kicker Erik Soderberg, senior nose guard Ben Garland and sophomore cornerback Anthony Wright Jr.

    Teams and award-winners are below:

    Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andy Dalton (TCJ, Jr.)

    Defensive Player of the Year: DE Jerry Hughes (TCU, Sr.)

    Special Teams Player of the Year: Ret. Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Jr.)

    Freshman of the Year: QB Austyn Carta-Samuels (Wyoming)

    Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson (TCU)

    First-Team Offense
    QB: Andy Dalton (TCU, Jr.)
    WR: David Reed (Utah, Sr.)
    WR: Ryan Wolfe (UNLV, Sr.)
    RB: Harvey Unga (BYU, Jr.)
    RB: Eddie Wide (Utah, Jr.)
    TE: Dennis Pitta (BYU, Sr.)
    OL: Matt Reynolds (BYU, So.)
    OL: Erik Cook (New Mexico, Sr.)
    OL: Marshall Newhouse (TCU, Sr.)
    OL: Marcus Cannon (TCU, Jr.)
    OL: Zane Beadles (Utah, Sr.)
    PK: Ross Evans (TCU, So.)
    PR/KR: Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Jr.)

    First-Team Defense
    DL: Jan Jorgensen (BYU, Sr.)
    DL: Jerry Hughes (TCU, Sr.)
    DL: Koa Misi (Utah, Sr.)
    DL: John Fletcher (Wyoming, Sr.)
    LB: Carmen Messina (New Mexico, So.)
    LB: Daryl Washington (TCU, Sr.)
    LB: Stevenson Sylvester (Utah, Sr.)
    DB: Reggie Rembert (Air Force, Jr.)
    DB: Rafael Priest (TCU, Sr.)
    DB: Nick Sanders (TCU, Sr.)
    DB: Robert Johnson (Utah, Sr.)
    P: Adam Miller (New Mexico, Sr.)

    Second-Team Offense
    QB: Max Hall (BYU, Sr.)
    WR: Vincent Brown (San Diego State, Jr.)
    WR: DeMarco Sampson (San Diego State, Sr.)
    RB: Joseph Turner (TCU, Sr.)
    RB: Jared Tew (Air Force, Jr.)
    TE: Andrew George (BYU, Sr.)
    OL: Nick Charles (Air Force, Sr.)
    OL: Peter Lusk (Air Force, Sr.)

    OL: Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah, Jr.)
    OL: Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU, Jr.)
    OL: Zane Taylor (Utah, Jr.)
    PK: Erik Soderberg (Air Force, So.)
    PR/KR: Dion Morton (Colorado State, So.)

    Second-Team Defense
    DL: Wayne Daniels (TCU, Jr.)
    DL: Ben Garland (Air Force, Sr.)
    DL: Johnathan Rainey (New Mexico, So.)
    DL: Cory Grant (TCU, Jr.)
    LB: Tank Carder (TCU, So.)
    LB: Mychal Sisson (Colorado State, So.)
    LB: Brian Hendricks (Wyoming, So.)
    DB: Andrew Rich (BYU, Jr.)
    DB: Anthony Wright Jr. (Air Force, So.)
    DB: Tejay Johnson (TCU, Jr.)
    DB: Chris Prosinski (Wyoming, Jr.)
    P: Brian Stahovich (San Diego State, So.)

    Honorable Mention
    Air Force:
    John Falgout (Sr. LB), Brandon Geyer (Sr. P), Ryan Gonzales (Sr. OL), Chris Thomas (Sr. DB).
    BYU: Coleby Clawson (Sr. LB), Brett Denney (Sr. DL), Scott Johnson (Sr. DB), Brian Logan (Jr. DB), Riley Stephenson (Fr. P), R.J. Willing (Sr. OL).
    Colorado State: Adrian Martinez (Sr. OL), Nick Oppenneer (Sr. DB), Cole Pemberton (Sr. OL), Shelley Smith (Sr. OL), Tim Walter (Sr. OL).
    New Mexico: Kendall Briscoe (Sr. DL).
    San Diego State: Davion Mauldin (Sr. KR), Jerry Milling (Sr. LB).
    TCU: Evan Frosch (Jr. TE), Antoine Hicks (So. WR), Jeremy Kerley (Jr. WR), Ed Wesley (Fr. RB), Jimmy Young (Jr. WR).
    UNLV: Jason Beauchamp (Sr. LB), Joe Hawley (Sr. OL), Matt Murphy (Jr. OL).
    Utah: Joe Phillips (Jr. K), Sean Sellwood (Fr. P), Sealver Siliga (So. DL), Mike Wright (Sr. LB).
    Wyoming: David Leonard (Jr. WR), Austin McCoy (So. P), Mitch Unrein (Sr. DL).

  • Game Day Links

    Sat, November 14, 2009 by admin with no comments

    A bunch of links this morning.

    Football first. We published our final Game Day wrap-around section today. It includes my article on senior nose guard Ben Garland and David Ramsey’s excellent column on Chris Thomas. My 3 Things to Watch and More and a look at receiver Kyle Halderman can be found here.

    How about hoops. Air Force opened its season with a  65-54 victory over Western State last night. My game story and notebook are both in this tidy link.

    Finally, hockey. Air Force defeated Holy Cross, 1-0, behind 29 saves by goalkeeper Andrew Volkening.