2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Post-Spring Two-Deep Chart – Rapid Reaction

    Mon, April 5, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force released an updated two-deep chart today. You can see it in the post below.

    Here are some things that stood out to me after my first glance at it:

    -Despite not participating in most of spring practice because he was recovering from surgery on his right knee, Tim Jefferson is listed as the Falcons’ starting quarterback. Connor Dietz, who took the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense in the spring, is listed as his backup.

    I think Jefferson made a strong case to cement possession of the starting job with his play late last season, particularly in the bowl game. Still, expect this to be an open competition in the fall.

    -Calhoun did some shuffling with the starting offensive line on the chart, placing A.J. Wallerstein at left tackle and Jason Kons at left guard (I saw them at right tackle and left tackle, respectively, most of the spring) and Tyler Schonsheck at right tackle (I’d seen him mostly at left guard).

    I know they moved those guys around, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they shuffled a bit more in early August.

    -Calhoun went with some generic position listings. As he did last year, he just listed two “WR” spots, instead of a WR-X (for the outside receiver) and WR-Z (for the slot receiver). If he had been more specific, Kyle Halderman would have been listed behind Jonathan Warzeka at the Z spot, while Mikel Hunter would have been listed behind Kevin Fogler at the X spot.

    Also, there are two “RB” spots, instead of “FB” and “TB,” and on defense there are simply three “DL” spots, four “LB” spots and four “DB” spots. Kind of strange.

    -Air Force will have an inexperienced offensive line in 2010, but if these players stay healthy and gain experience, it’ll pay big dividends down the road. Only three of the 10 offensive line starters and backups listed are seniors. Four are sophomores and three are juniors.

    -Interesting to see sophomore Daniel Compton listed as the backup place kicker behind Erik Soderberg. I would think Soderberg is pretty much entrenched as the starting kicker after an outstanding debut season as a sophomore in 2009. But Compton has a powerful leg and could be utilized on kickoffs.

    -The position that seems most in flux is linebacker. So much depends on how guys heal – and how they’re able to work in the weight room and on the track after they heal. Specifically, Air Force needs seniors Ken Lamendola and Patrick Hennessey to be healthy come Aug. 1.

  • Football Completes ‘Spring’ Practice

    Tue, March 16, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force wrapped up its spring football practices this afternoon at Falcon Stadium.

    The Falcons – as they have throughout the spring sessions – ran a bunch of full-contact, live-action, scrimmage-situation plays with the backups getting most of the work.

    Despite all the live action in the spring, the Falcons didn’t sustain too many injuries in their 15 practices.

    Sophomore inside linebacker Brady Amack sprained an MCL and, today, sophomore outside linebacker Jordan Waiwaiole “might have broken a small bone in his hand,” Calhoun said.

    “But other than that we got through it, physically,” Calhoun said. “We had a ton of contact this spring. We probably ran as many scrimmage snaps this spring as probably we have since I got here – but we had to. Just because we had so many new bodies – especially in the offensive line and in the defensive front seven.”

    Among the highlights of the final practice were an on-the-money deep ball from sophomore quarterback Connor Dietz to sophomore receiver Mikel Hunter and a touchdown run of about 70 yards by freshman Wesley Cobb. The lowlights were a bevy of fumbles. …

    Looks like four linemen are emerging on the rebuilt offensive line – freshman left tackle Jason Kons, sophomore center Michael Hester, sophomore right guard A.J. Wallerstein and junior right tackle Chase Darden. …

    Freshman strong safety Brian Lindsay began to emerge in the second half of the spring sessions.

    “I thought Brian Lindsay really made some improvement this spring,” Calhoun said. “Just a little bit better feel for the defense. Playing with some force, physically. And just looking like he was a little more sure of the way he played too.” ….

    Much more from the Falcons’ spring sessions in my spring recap, which will appear on-line tomorrow and in Thursday’s Gazette.

  • Friday Morning Links

    Fri, March 5, 2010 by admin with no comments

    I wrote for today’s edition of The Gazette about cornerback Reggie Rembert and how he’s having a much more free and easy spring than he did a year ago. And Gazette columnist David Ramsey wrote about quarterback Connor Dietz, and the improvements he’s made, in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

    Coming in the next couple days: A look at the secondary in general. Who will replace Chris Thomas? And how good could this group be?

    Moving to hoops, it’s a pretty good year for freshmen in the Mountain West Conference. Five are among the top 15 scorers in the league: San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard (eighth with 12.4 points per game), Colorado State’s Dorian Green (11th, 12.0), Utah’s Marshall Henderson (13th, 11.8), BYU’s Tyler Haws (14th, 11.7) and Wyoming’s Desmar Jackson (15th, 11.3). Here’s an article about Green from The Denver Post.

  • 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 11, 2010 by admin with 8 comments

    Air Force opens spring football practice a week from today, and coming in Monday’s edition of The Gazette will be our spring football preview package.

    But here are some quick notes as the Falcons prepare to hit the field …

    Light at linebacker
    Air Force will be relatively healthy for spring but a trio of potential starting linebackers will miss most to all of the 15 practices.

    Junior inside linebacker Ken Lamendola (knee), junior outside linebacker Patrick Hennessey (shoulder) and freshman outside linebacker Alex Means (foot) all still are rehabbing injuries suffered last season.

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said Lamendola will not participate in spring practice, and that Means and Hennessey could make it back for the end of spring.

    Jefferson limited
    Sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson “might be a bit limited,” Calhoun said, in spring practice because of his right knee. Jefferson had a minor arthroscopic procedure on the knee to clean it up.

    Position changes
    Junior Bradley Connor has been moved from the defensive line to offensive guard.

    “We felt that was his best chance to get on the field,” Calhoun said.

    In addition, junior Ben Cochran will begin spring practices at safety. Cochran, who was a reserve quarterback last year and took the majority of snaps in the BYU game after Jefferson left with a rib injury, began last fall on defense but was moved back to quarterback early in the season.

    One player who won’t change positions is Asher Clark. The sophomore, who spent last spring and August at quarterback, will be at tailback in the spring.

    With Jefferson limited, Clark at tailback and Cochran back on defense, Air Force’s snaps will be split between sophomore Connor Dietz and freshmen Justin Smith and Tucker Tipton.

    Graduate assistants chosen
    Air Force has selected its graduate assistants for the 2010 season.

    Justin Moore and Nick Charles will assist the academy team, while Chris Thomas and Ryan Gonzales will work with the prep school squad.

    Calhoun said there would be some players who missed practice time for academics, but he did not name any.

    “Every year we’re going to have that because we’re going to make sure that’s understood thoroughly that that’s the priority.” …

    The Falcons’ first practice is set for Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

  • 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.”

  • Friday Football Odds and Ends

    Fri, December 11, 2009 by admin with 5 comments

    Some football notes for a Friday …

    -Air Force returned to practice today and began installing its game plan for the Armed Forces Bowl.

    The Falcons will face Houston on Dec. 31 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said his team actually started working a bit on Houston last Saturday in anticipation that the Cougars would be their bowl opponent.

    “We thought it was a little bit of a coin flip,” Calhoun said.

    Calhoun said right now the Falcons have “too much” installed at this point and will “pare it down” once the coaches figure out what schemes they think will work best and which ones the Falcons can best execute.

    -Sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson practiced and, like last weekend, showed no ill effects of the bruised ribs he suffered in the Falcons’ season finale at BYU on Nov. 21.

    -Sophomore quarterback Connor Dietz, who missed the Falcons’ last four regular season games with a broken bone in his right (throwing) hand, was at practice without a cast on the hand. He didn’t participate in full-speed drills but did some throwing on the side.

    “He’s coming along,” Calhoun said.

    When asked what Dietz had to show him in practice to be considered ready to play in the bowl, Calhoun said: “Just practice consistently. Be firm enough in practice and fast enough and be able to handle the ball consistently enough. If he can get to that point, then, yeah, you’d consider it, but he’s got to be to that point. But he’s still got a little time too.”

    -Freshman outside linebacker Alex Means (foot) will not play in the bowl. “We just want to make sure he can do all of his work in the winter in the weight room and then be able to go through spring ball,” Calhoun said. “He’s a guy that really, really needs spring ball.”

    -Junior slot receiver Kyle Halderman (knee) still is questionable for the bowl game.

    -I mean, I guess the No. 1 pass offense vs. No. 1 pass defense matchup makes the Armed Forces Bowl fairly intriguing. But this intriguing? Pete Fiutak of FoxSports.com ranks the bowls from worst to first. And you won’t believe where he has Air Force-Houston. (Note: He does write that Air Force beat Houston last season in the Armed Forces Bowl).

    -Coming tomorrow: My Heisman ballot.

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, December 6, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    Good morning. Should have a bowl announcement by mid-afternoon, I would expect. All indications are Air Force will go back to Fort Worth for the Armed Forces Bowl and face either Houston or Southern Miss. Check the blog or my Twitter account (twitter.com/jakeschaller) for updates.

    Some links:

    I wrote for today about Air Force sophomore Connor Dietz, his gutsy performance against Utah (I believe this is the first time he’s spoken to the press about it) and his return to practice.

    Also, the Air Force hockey team completed a sweep of American International. And the men’s basketball team fell at Missouri State, 58-48. The Falcons trailed by 11 early but rallied and led 30-27 early in the second half.

  • Calhoun Says No Contact with UVA (And Practice Notes)

    Fri, December 4, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun’s name has been mentioned as a candidate for the vacant University of Virginia job, but Calhoun said after this afternoon’s practice that speculation is just that.

    Calhoun said he hasn’t had any contact with Virginia.

    “The only thing I’m thinking about is here,” Calhoun said. “That’s when we recruit, that’s in all of our game prep, that’s in raising our kids. Everything we do. That’s the only thing we’ve even given consideration to, and that’s the only way we’re going to operate.”

    Asked if that meant he’d be at the academy next year, Calhoun said, “I hope so. Absolutely we hope so.”

    Practice Notes
    -In addition to Calhoun, Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter’s name has begun to circulate as a candidate for vacant jobs. Georgia is one school looking for a new defensive coordinator.

    “All I care about is winning our bowl game and getting these guys ready to play in it,” DeRuyter said. “That’s all I care about. … People are going to say what I want. All I care about is these guys and sending these seniors out the right way.”

    DeRuyter was outstanding in the 2009 regular season. His defense ranks eighth in the country in scoring defense (15.3 points allowed per game) and ninth in total defense (284.8 yards allowed per game).

    -Sophomore quarterbacks Tim Jefferson and Connor Dietz both participated in practice today. More on this in my article, which will appear on-line shortly.

    -Dontae Strickland, who had been practicing at cornerback all season, spent some time at slot receiver this afternoon.

    “We switched him over in the middle of practice,” Calhoun said of the 5-foot-10, 170-pound freshman from Kansas City. “We’ll see. That’s something we’ve been considering for a long time. … It’s something kind of in the back of our minds, we’ve always wondered do we play him at corner or slot. And I wanted to give him every chance in the world to get into the two-deep at corner, and if we think he can get on the field sooner at receiver, then we’ll move him to wide receiver if he wants to do that.”

    -Air Force got just one player on the first-team All-Mountain West Conference squad – junior cornerback Reggie Rembert.

    The most notable omission was senior nose guard Ben Garland.

    DeRuyter said he was “disappointed, because I really thought Benny probably played the best on our defense this year. … I though he deserved it.”

    Calhoun said he thought Garland and MWC Defensive Player of the Year Jerry Hughes of TCU were “clear-cut no-brainers” for the first-team.

    Being a nose guard might have hurt Garland, Calhoun said.

    “We asked him to do a lot where he had to take on blocks and eat up blocks rather than putting him in positions where he was only going to make tackles to enhance his stats,” Calhoun said. “He’s one of those guys he knew what he needed to do and because of it it helped free up the ‘backers like John Falgout and Justin Moore for those guys to make a ton of tackles and he did that. But as a football player, if you only looked at the football part of it there was no doubt, he should have been a first-team pick. And I think also what happens too is I think sometimes coaches tend a little bit to overlook Air Force players, and I think that might have been the case there.”

  • Monday Odds and Ends

    Tue, November 3, 2009 by admin with no comments

    -A couple of minor tweaks to the two-deep chart released today:

    Tim Jefferson is listed as the Falcons’ starting quarterback, and Ben Cochran is listed as his backup with Connor Dietz out with a broken bone in his right hand.

    Asher Clark is listed as the Falcons’ starting tailback. He’d been listed as a co-starter with Savier Stephens the previous few weeks.

    -I’ll be on The Mtn.’s Around the Mountain program tomorrow talking football. The show airs at 7 p.m. and then is replayed at 10:30 p.m.