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  • 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.

  • Air Force 59, Wyoming 40 – Rapid Reaction

    Wed, March 10, 2010 by admin with no comments

    So where was this team all season?

    The Falcons played with energy and emotion and – gasp – actually seemed to be having fun out there today.

    You could tell by the body language of the players that they were not going to lose this game. Even the guys on the bench – they were on their feet and cheering and celebrating. It was nice to see.

    An obvious reason the Falcons won was they actually hit some shots – something they did rarely in Mountain West Conference regular season play.

    But a bigger reason was defense. Air Force players were flying out to the perimeter to contest Wyoming’s 3-point shots. They were attacking passing lanes and going after errant passes. They were sliding their feet and making it tough for the Cowboys to get into the lane.

    In short, they were just playing nasty defense. The kind of defense Air Force used to play on a night-in, night-out basis.

    “We were really well prepared,” senior forward/center Grant Parker said. “We knew what they were going to do pretty much every single play. We knew their options and what they could possibly run. … I thought energy was a big thing tonight.”

    I asked Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds if his team had its best defensive performance of the season against the Cowboys.

    “I think there were stretches that we were very solid,” he said. “You know, (Wyoming freshman guard) Desmar (Jackson) is so good at getting into the lane. I thought (Air Force senior guard) Avery Merriex came off the bench and did an outstanding job of forcing him to go side to side versus to the basket. I thought Mike McLain did a really good job, as well as Grant.”

    Other Notes:
    -The Cowboys had a lot to do with their demise.

    Playing without starting point guard JayDee Luster, the Cowboys made 13 turnovers and hit just 2-of-16 3-pointers and just 8-of-19 shots from the foul line. Ouch.

    On Wyoming’s second possession of the second half, Desmar Jackson tossed a pass to Ryan Dermody on the right wing. Dermody reached for it with one hand, but it slipped off the hand and out of bounds. It just wasn’t the Cowboys’ day.

    -Speaking of Jackson, he is a talented kid. Especially as a scorer. So smooth and deceptively quick. He just has a knack for getting through traffic, contorting his body and finding a way to force in shots. He’ll be fun to watch in the coming seasons.

    -Play of the day, by far: Freshman guard Todd Fletcher’s drive to the hoop with about 3:26 to play. Wyoming was pressing, but the Falcons beat it, and Fletcher got the ball and took it across halfcourt. Instead of pulling it out and running clock, however, Fletcher saw a lane and exploited it. He went all the way to the rim and scored as he was fouled. He then hit the ensuing free throw to complete a 3-point play that finished off the Cowboys.

    “I made my diagonal cut. I just hear Evan in the background saying, ‘Go, go, attack,’” Fletcher said. “Their big guy was backing up. I had to make a layup. I went in, got hit. Coach says always keep your eyes on the rim and I did and it went in.”

    -I mentioned this in my notebook that will appear in tomorrow’s paper, but I wanted to send give props here on the blog. How ‘bout Ryan Gonzales – senior offensive tackle on the Air Force football team – winning the fan shootout during a break in the action in the first half?

    Gonzales hit a free throw, a 3-pointer and a halfcourt shot to win the competition. And he needed just two tries on the free throw and 3 and four on the halfcourt shot.

    There apparently are some ballers on the football team, including free safety Jon Davis (who played some for the prep school hoops team a few years ago), receiver Kevin Fogler, quarterback Tim Jefferson, receiver Kyle Halderman, outside linebackers Patrick Hennessey and Andre Morris Jr. and some others.

    -Quick, quick, quick turnaround for Air Force. The Falcons will have about 21 hours from the end of their game against Wyoming to tip-off of tomorrow’s game against New Mexico. Until then.

  • Football Team Puts 13 on Academic All-MWC Squad

    Thu, February 11, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    Thirteen Air Force football players earned academic All-Mountain West Conference honors today.

    The 13 selections tie for the second-most in program history. The 1999 squad set a record with 18 academic all-conference selections. The 2000 and 2006 teams each had 13 selections.

    The Fall 2009 Academic All-MWC team includes 384 student-athletes from football, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country. To be eligible for selection, student-athletes must have completed at least one academic term at the member institution while maintaining a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and be a starter or significant contributor on their athletic team.

    Here are the Air Force football players on the team with their majors and, in parentheses, their grade-point averages:

    Senior Nick Charles, Management (3.13)
    Senior Ben Garland, Systems Engineering Management (3.15)
    Senior Justin Moore, Management (3.00)
    Senior Chris Thomas, Management (3.22)
    Junior Keil Bartholomew, Systems Engineering Management (3.20)
    Junior Kevin Fogler, Management (3.60)
    Junior Kyle Halderman, Economics (3.04)
    Junior Tyler Schonsheck, Aeronautical Engineering (3.21)
    Junior Nathan Walker, Systems Engineering Management (3.03)
    Sophomore Jeffrey Benson, Systems Engineering Management (3.38)
    Sophomore Josh Hall, Legal Studies (3.01)
    Sophomore A.J. Wallerstein, Physics (3.26)
    Freshman Olawale Lawal, Undeclared (3.36)

  • 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.

  • Monday Odds and Ends

    Mon, November 16, 2009 by admin with no comments

    -Only one tweak on the new two-deep chart released today: Sophomore Jon Escamilla now is listed as a backup receiver, taking the place of injured junior Kyle Halderman (knee).

    “He got a little bit of work the other night” against UNLV, Calhoun said of Escamilla. “He played right around 20 snaps the other night. And he’s got a good body, and he likes the competition.”

    -Speaking of Halderman, one player I didn’t mention as a candidate to back up starting slot receiver Jonathan Warzeka in Halderman’s absence is Drew Coleman. The freshman played in seven of the Falcons’ first nine games, including the first six, but currently is sidelined with a shoulder injury.

    “He hurt his shoulder,” Calhoun said. “He’s going to be out for at least a couple more weeks, maybe longer, depending on what the severity of it is.”

    -Asher Clark credited his offensive line after rushing for a career-high 160 yards and a career-high three touchdowns last Saturday.

    “There were definitely big holes and there were cut-backs and they only could have been there because they were getting off the ball and getting separation,” Clark said. “The holes that were there were all because of them.”

    Senior center Michael Hampton said today that he appreciated the kudos from Clark, who this morning was named the Mountain West Conference’s co-player of the week. But Hampton admitted Clark did much of the work on his own.

    “That last touchdown run, that was all him,” Hampton said of Clark’s tackle-breaking, multiple cut-back 40-yard run to the end zone in the fourth quarter. “We might have opened up some holes here and there, but you look at that one play right there, kind of the big play of the night for me, that was all him.”

  • Monday Morning Links

    Mon, November 16, 2009 by admin with no comments

    I wrote for today’s paper about some Air Force injuries, most notably junior Kyle Halderman’s. The slot receiver injured his knee against UNLV and will not play Saturday at BYU.

    As I wrote Saturday, Air Force’s game against BYU has big-time bowl implications. With a victory, the Poinsettia Bowl and perhaps even the Las Vegas Bowl both seem to become possibilities (provided TCU takes care of business and heads to a BCS Bowl). With a loss, the Falcons likely are headed either back to Fort Worth or to New Mexico.

    Both of ESPN.com’s writers who project the bowl matchups see the Falcons in Fort Worth.

    Also, here’s SI.com writer Stewart Mandel’s College Football Overtime column.

  • 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.

  • 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.