2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, December 20, 2009 by admin with no comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team fell to 5-4 last night with a 60-52 loss to Northern Arizona. My notes, which deal in part with Derek Brooks’ return and the Falcons’ injuries, can be found at this link. My “Rapid Reaction” from last night is in the post below.

    Switching to football, Wyoming staged a comeback to force overtime in yesterday’s New Mexico Bowl and then defeated Fresno State in two overtimes.

    Much has been made of Air Force potentially breaking into the top three in the Mountain West Conference. That should be a goal. But for the Falcons, holding off the teams that have finished below them in coach Troy Calhoun’s first three seasons is going to become a greater and greater challenge. Dave Christensen is going to get it going at Wyoming, I think, and Brady Hoke’s going to do the same at San Diego State. And I don’t see Colorado State finishing in last place again.

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, November 1, 2009 by admin with no comments

    The stories from Fort Collins:

    -My game story deals with the offfense’s breakout performance.

    -Columnist David Ramsey wrote about quarterback Tim Jefferson.

    -I wrote a sidebar on the play of the game, Jefferson’s 34-yard completion to Kevin Fogler.

    -Ramsey wrote a sidebar on CSU’s collapse after a 3-0 start.

    -My notebook deals with the slot receivers, Reggie Rembert, a milestone for Asher Clark and more.

    Also, here’s a story on Air Force hockey’s loss at Canisius.

  • CSU Wrap

    Sat, October 31, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    It’s kind of funny to talk about a breakout passing performance when a team completes seven passes and gains just more than 100 yards through the air.

    But a breakout performance it was for Air Force’s aerial attack when quarterback Tim Jefferson completed 7-of-12 passes for 111 yards and two scores in today’s 34-16 victory over Colorado State at Hughes Stadium.

    Because remember this: In the Falcons’ previous four games they completed just 24 of 54 passes and averaged 46.4 yards through the air. That’s not good enough. Even for an option team.

    Air Force never will be Texas Tech, or anything close to it. But the Falcons do need to take advantage of the play-action opportunities their running game provides. And they need to do enough through the air to keep opponents honest. They did both today.

    Jefferson, back in the starting lineup, looked the best he has all year. He played like he had something to prove, considering Connor Dietz had seemed to have taken over the starting QB role with his performance last week (before it was found Dietz had broken a bone in his hand and will miss at least three weeks).

    Did Jefferson have something to prove?

    “I don’t know,” Jefferson said. “I know that we’ve been trading the starts, and it kind of hurt us when (Dietz) went down because he’s a great player. I don’t think I had anything to prove, I just wanted to go out there and play, and I got the chance.”

    Jefferson ran the offense with a good tempo and showed off his great feel for the option. Jefferson’s pitches always lead backs so they are full speed when they catch them. And he has an innate ability to hold the ball until the last possible moment, often influencing defenders to come off the pitch man to stop him.

    Still, Jefferson made the key play of the game not with his feet but with his arm, hitting Kevin Fogler for 34 yards down the right sideline on a third-and-18 early in the second half.

    While the throw and the catch both were impressive, I was particularly impressed that Calhoun made the call. So many times this season, we’ve seen Air Force run up the middle in third-and-long situations – especially when it’s backed up in its own territory. More than anything else, simply calling for a pass showed Calhoun had the confidence in Jefferson to make a play. That spoke volumes.

    “It was in the game plan,” Jefferson said of the pass. “Coaches told us we were going to have a chance to hit some shots because their secondary wasn’t that strong.  I was glad that he made the call and glad that he had confidence in us.”

    Other Thoughts:
    -Air Force made two plays of more than 30 yards on Saturday – as many as they’d made in their previous seven games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

    While Air Force is a grind-it-out squad, it never hurts to pick up some big chunks of yardage.

    “There are times you’ve got to grind and make three and four yards on carries, but you just don’t only have to wear your mudder or your plodder shoes,” Calhoun said. “You can wear your other shoes too, where you get up on your toes and go a little bit.”

    -As I wrote earlier this week, sophomore kicker Erik Soderberg has not let his season be defined by his overtime miss at Navy.

    This afternoon Soderberg drilled a career-long 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, giving the Falcons a 17-10 advantage at the break after the Rams had scored 10 straight points.

    “It was a good hit,” Calhoun said. “It was a big play, to send you into the half when you’re up by seven and you’re receiving the kickoff in the second half.”

    Soderberg also nailed a 30-yarder, giving him seven straight made field goals since his miss at Navy.

    But he did miss an extra point for the first time this season.

    -Part of the reason Air Force looked better and was able to pick up 382 yards was because players were making things happen with the ball in their hands.

    There was Jared Tew, breaking out of arm tackles. There was Asher Clark, making a spin move to avoid a defender. There was Jonathan Warzeka, beating defenders to the edge.

    “I think we probably broke some tackles today, which we haven’t done a lot of,” Calhoun said. “I think by and large, you look here over about the last month or so, we’ve basically gained yards that were there and that’s it. And what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to have guys that gain more than what’s there.”

    Today, they did.

    -How about the Mohawk worn by senior safety Luke Hyder? I asked Calhoun who gave him the haircut.

    “He’s got a little work to do on it,” Calhoun said. “I don’t think it was his girlfriend. Nor his mom.”

  • FINAL: Air Force 34, Colorado State 16

    Sat, October 31, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force’s standout defense finally got some help on Saturday.

    Behind resurgent quarterback Tim Jefferson, the Falcons offense scored four touchdowns – more than it had scored in any game since the opener against Nicholls State of the Football Championship Subdivision – and the defense was its stout self in a 34-16 victory in front of an announced crowd of 22,025 at Hughes Stadium.

    The Falcons, who have beaten Colorado State four straight times and five times in the teams’ last six meetings, improved to 5-4 and 4-2 in the Mountain West Conference and are one victory away from becoming bowl eligible for the third straight season. The Rams (3-6, 0-5) lost for the sixth time in a row after a 3-0 start.

    The Air Force offense had accounted for just four touchdowns in the previous five games and averaged 281.6 yards in those contests. But against a reeling Rams team, the Falcons piled up 315 yards in three quarters.

  • Halftime: Air Force 17, Colorado State 10

    Sat, October 31, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force sophomore kicker Erik Soderberg hit a career-long 50-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 17-10 lead over Colorado State at halftime.

    The Falcons, led by sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson, drove for touchdowns on each of their first two possessions. Jefferson capped the first drive, which covered 80 yards, by hitting junior Kyle Halderman for an 8-yard touchdown. Fullback Jared Tew capped the second drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:05 left in the first quarter.

    But just as the Falcons seemed ready to turn the game into a blowout, Colorado State showed signs of life. The Rams drove for a field goal, held the Falcons to three plays and a punt and then drove 59 yards for a touchdown with 1:43 left in the half to cut the Air Force lead to 14-10.

    Air Force, however, went from its own 27 to the Colorado Sate 33 in seven plays to set up Soderberg’s boot.

  • 55 Minutes to Kickoff

    Sat, October 31, 2009 by admin with 5 comments

    Channeling Brent Musburger, I am looking live at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.

    After all the snow we got this week in Denver, and apparently up here in Fort Collins, it’s a really nice day. Sun is out, only a few clouds and it’s probably about 50 degrees. Looks like they did a nice job of clearing snow off the field and out of the stands.

    Fairly large game for the Falcons today. Predictions anyone?

  • Game Day Links

    Sat, October 31, 2009 by admin with no comments

    I wrote for today’s edition of The Gazette about what has become the calling card of the Falcons’ standout defense. My 3 Things to Watch (and more) are tacked on the bottom of the article.

  • Thursday Morning Links

    Thu, October 29, 2009 by admin with no comments

    In today’s edition of The Gazette is my story on sophomore kicker Erik Soderberg.

    Through eight games of his first season as Air Force’s kicker, Soderberg has made 17 of 22 field goals. One of the misses, of course, was at Navy, when his 31-yard attempt in overtime sailed wide left.

    But instead of letting that kick define his season, Soderberg has rebounded admirably. He’s made five straight kicks including a 48-yarder last Saturday at Utah that tied the game.

    When asked how Soderberg was able to rebound from the miss at Navy, coach Troy Calhoun said, “I just think you keep kicking.

    “There are three different positions, but it’s a little bit of the same. If you’re a relief pitcher, if you’re a corner(back), if you’re a kicker, you better keep firing.”

    Soderberg’s game-tying kick at Utah came with less than seven minutes to play. It was far from a chip shot, but Soderberg made it look like a routine extra point.

    “The impressive part about it, it might have been good from eight to 10 (more yards) – it might have been a 56-, 57-yarder,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “He hit it well without over-swinging. And I think there are some times when you first get into kicking field goals, especially at this level, there are times when you think you’ve got to put a little extra pop to it, and what you do, you don’t hit it as well. It’s like your driver.”

    Also in today’s paper is a short piece on Air Force’s tailbacks. And here’s the link to my story about Colorado State that I didn’t link yesterday.

  • Wednesday Morning Links

    Wed, October 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    In today’s edition of The Gazette I wrote about Colorado State stumbling after a fast start. It’s not on-line yet. I’ll link it when it is.

    Also, on-line only, you can find my Around the Mountain West Conference notebook. I touch on Tim Jefferson’s return to the starting role, San Diego State defensive coordinator Rocky Long facing his old team (New Mexico) and Gary Patterson not campaigning for his team.

  • Tuesday Notes

    Tue, October 27, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force is two victories away from becoming bowl eligible for the third time in Troy Calhoun’s three seasons at the academy.

    But Calhoun said today he isn’t thinking about getting two victories. Just one this Saturday at Colorado State.

    “You’ve got to get one,” he said. “This isn’t like stairs, where you can jump up three steps. You’ve got to get one. And the one’s going to be hard. But it’s doable.”

    Bombs Away: Air Force will see a unique offense on Saturday.

    Colorado State mashes with the running game but also takes lots of deep shots down the field. Probably more than any other team in the conference.

    “They’re really a unique combination that way,” Calhoun said. “What they do is physically, I think with their offensive line and their tailback position and being a two-back team, they’re able to run it downhill. We probably haven’t played a team yet, just in terms of pure commitment to being a downhill squad, like we’re going to see on Saturday. And I’m sure size-wise that’s something they’re going to try and mash on us. And then the other part, what they’re going to do, they’re going to throw the ball down the field.”

    Said Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild: “It’s just our mode of operation on offense is to try and run the ball at you and then throw it over your head. … We’re going to try to throw the ball over the top of the defense a number of times during the game. That’s just our approach to offensive football here.”

    Dietz Update: Calhoun said today he’s talked with sophomore quarterback Connor Dietz since Dietz underwent surgery on his right hand.

    “He’s naturally a little bit disappointed,” Calhoun said. “I think anybody that’s competitive and anybody that’s got that much fire in you, which he does, you want to play.”

    Calhoun said because Dietz’s right hand is his dominant hand, “It’s not just football. He’s taking over 18 semester hours right now. You think about something as simple as taking a note.”

    Asked if he would help Dietz with his school work, Calhoun said, “I don’t think he’d want me to do that. He saw my grades when I was a freshman and sophomore at the academy.”

    Other Personnel Matters: Not much of an update on Reggie Rembert, who left last Saturday’s game at Utah after absorbing a pair of big hits on consecutive kickoffs. The junior cornerback/kick returner did not participate in practice Tuesday. “We’ve just got to wait and see,” Calhoun said.

    Senior safety Luke Hyder missed practice because he is sick, but Calhoun said Hyder will be fine for Saturday’s game at Colorado State.