• Monday Morning Links

    Mon, March 1, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    March begins today, and the Air Force football team already has held six “spring” practices.

    To date, sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson has been unable to participate in spring drills because he is recovering from surgery on his right knee. So the Falcons won’t settle on a starter until August.

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey, however, writes in his blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com) that Jefferson, who started 10 of 13 games last season and was the 2008 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, deserves a vote of confidence from Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

    With Jeffersoun out, sophomore Connor Dietz, who started three games last season, is taking snaps with the Falcons’ starters. Dietz has made huge strides since last year’s spring drills, when he was a new face on the Falcons’ varsity.

    “No doubt,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “There’s clearly a difference compared to what he was 11 or 12 months ago. Plus, I think you practice differently after you’ve had some game experience, just because you realize how much more relevant every drill and everything you do fundamentally and skill-wise is. And that’s where experience is huge for guys. You’re asking about the quarterbacks right now, but I think even a guy like (freshman running back) Cody Getz, catching one swing pass in the bowl game. All of a sudden he realizes all those swing passes you catch in practice, the catch and pitches, you realize it’s necessary.”

    Already a strong runner, Dietz is working hard on his passing this spring, specifically his dropbacks and reads.

    “It’s better,” Calhoun said of Dietz’s passing. “Just on a very regular basis, seeing a little more velocity with the ball coming off of his hand.”

    Switching to hoops, Air Force will travel to Wyoming today where tomorrow it will face the Cowboys – the only MWC team it has beaten. Ramsey recently blogged about his top 20 basketball players of all-time and asked Falcons coach Jeff Reynolds for his No. 2 (MJ is No. 1 of course). Reynolds gave his response via e-mail, and Ramsey has it in his blog, just scroll beneath the Jefferson post.

  • 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.

  • Halderman Out

    Sun, November 15, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force junior slot receiver Kyle Halderman will miss at least four weeks with a knee sprain, Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said tonight.

    “We’re going to see exactly what it is here in the next couple of days,” Calhoun said. “I think it’s just a PCL. But right now it’s just a little too early to tell.”

    With Halderman out for Saturday’s game at BYU, Calhoun said he’d have to decide this week who will back up starter Jonathan Warzeka at slot receiver. Calhoun said possibilities include sophomore Jon Escamilla, who played against UNLV, freshman tailback Cody Getz and junior tailback Savier Stephens.

    Getz played some slot receiver earlier in the year before moving to tailback, his high school position.

  • More on the Tailbacks

    Thu, October 29, 2009 by admin with 1 comment

    I wrote a bit today on the Falcons’ tailbacks, specifically sophomore Asher Clark and junior Savier Stephens.

    Here are some portions of my conversation with running backs coach Jemal Singleton that I couldn’t include in the story:

    Jake: Do you need more production out of your tailbacks?
    Jemal: Yes. And I’d tell you that if they had over 3,000 yards rushing right now too. I think you’ve got to look at what we’re doing with Asher and Sai. Just this last week was the first week that Asher went under five yards a carry (he’s now at 4.6 for the season). Sai’s still over five yards a carry (5.1). And I tell them, ‘You’re my two-headed monster.’ One rushes for 50, another rushes for 56, then we rushed for over 100 yards at the tailback position. So, saying that, I want more production, I want some bigger plays out of those guys, but you look at the numbers, I think they’re not that bad.

    Jake: Are they getting fewer carries this year?
    Jemal: I think a little bit. Obviously with what (fullback Jared Tew has) been able to do and the tough, hard yards that he’s getting, he’s had more carries than most of our fullbacks have gotten in a long time. …. So, obviously, there are only so many carries you get in a game, and if the fullback’s getting more, someone’s getting less carries. So I think so, but a lot of that’s just the result of some of the things defenses are giving us is allowing him to get some of those hard three- and four-yard carries.”

    Jake: I thought we might see more from Clark after how he played late last season.
    Jemal: You’ve got a freshman that does something, and you think, ‘Oh, sophomore year, it’s going to be great, he’s just going to build on that.’ I think this is one of the places where maybe that’s not always the case. It’s tough as a sophomore, and I’m not making excuses for him, but you talk about his academic work load increases as a sophomore and those kinds of things. I think Savier Stephens is a prime example. You saw him as a freshman, and he showed those flashes, and you just thought, ‘Oh, his sophomore year.’ And it wasn’t what you expected. Asher’s done some good things. And, to be honest, he knows this. I don’t think he played early in the season as good as he needed to play. I thought he did some things that were uncharacteristic of him, and I kind of let him have it about that. But even if you look at Saturday’s game – I know you guys aren’t going to look at it this way because all you see is the 1.9 (yards) a carry – but I looked at some of the carries that he had and some of the speed that he showed on some of those. He had a play on the sideline where he catches a pitch and leaves a couple guys, and he has a play on the sideline where there’s nothing there, and he runs over the safety, and the safety’s laying flat on his back and that safety’s going to be playing in the (NFL). And that’s exactly what I told him today. I said, ‘I will take those ugly, tough-nosed, two-yard carries over an easy four-yard carry every day.’ So he’s showing some things to me these past couple weeks that, hmm, that’s showing some old flashes, some old glimpses of what he’s done. But like you said, he hasn’t gotten 30 carries in a game, it’s just not where we’re at this year.

    Jake: Has he felt any lingering affects from his knee injury, or did the time he spent at quarterback hurt his progression?
    Jemal: Obviously not being able to practice in the spring is huge. It’s funny that you bring this up, but Savier Stephens was the same way – didn’t have a spring his sophomore year. And I think that’s huge for development of a player is getting that spring ball. So any injury that forces you to miss practices is huge. As for him playing quarterback, I don’t think it was much of a problem. If anything it probably kept him a little fresher, (kept him from) getting the hits and those types of things.

    Jake: Will any of the freshmen tailbacks find their way in the mix in the final third of the regular season?
    Jemal: It’s kind of like what I told you before – you don’t want those guys to have to play early, you want them to develop, you want them to get a million practice reps before they have to face live bullets. I think (Cody) Getz, obviously, now that he’s transitioned back to tailback, has helped him. I think you’ve seen some of the flashes that you saw earlier from him. I think that’s his true position. His true position is tailback. I think if you asked the young man that, he’d probably tell you the same thing. That he’s a lot more comfortable there. But I think he’s probably the one that here in the next few games might get splashed in there, might get a chance to play a little bit. But, again, it all depends on what he does at practice, shows that mentally he can handle the game plan and physically he can take care of the football.