2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • AFA football: Few blitzes and few Cougars get open

    Thu, December 31, 2009 by David Ramsey with 3 comments

    AFA defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is a big believer in the power of the blitz.

    He put aside those beliefs in Thursday’s 47-20 pounding of the Houston Cougars. DeRuyter said the Falcons blizted fewer than 10 times.

    Air Force defenders concentrated more on covering receivers than on pressuring quarterback Case Keenum.

    The strategy worked.

    And how.

    Keenum threw six interceptions and managed only 222 yards passing on 41 attempts.

    “We gave him more  time to throw,” DeRuyter said, “and I think  he got frustrated.”

    Keenum got frustrated because he couldn’t find open receivers. The Falcons threw a blanket on the receivers Keenum sent downfield.

    It was a strong ending to a strong defensive season for the Falcons.

    AFA held 11 opponents to 20 or fewer points.



  • Air Force trashes Houston; this is the biggest win for the Falcons in a long time

    Thu, December 31, 2009 by David Ramsey with 4 comments

    All season, Air Force beat weak teams and lost – usually barely lost – to strong teams.

    That changed Tuesday in Fort Worth.

    The Falcons defeated a dangerous Houston team, and they didn’t just beat them.

    They trashed them.

    This is the AFA biggest win since an upset victory over TCU in 2007.

    This win closes 2009 with a happy bang.

    And offers all kinds of tantilizing suggestions about 2010.

  • 41-20: Well, maybe it is time to relax

    Thu, December 31, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Air Force has delivered a superb performance so far. The Falcons have slowed down quarterback Case Keenum and demolished the Cougars defense.

    Maybe it is time to kick back and relax.

  • AFA halftime report: Yes, the Falcons lead, 24-6, but don’t get too comfortable

    Thu, December 31, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    If any team can resurrect from a 24-6 defict, it’s Houston.

    The Cougars scored 59 points against Rice … in the first half.

    Case Keenum is, despite his performance in the first half, one of the two or three best college quarterbacks in our nation.

    And the Cougars should have scored two touchdowns in the first half.

    Yes, the Falcons have played fantastic football.

    But the Cougars will revive.

    I predict they’ll take the second-half kickoff, score a touchdown and return drama to this game.

  • AFA football: Falcons up 14-0; Houston fans don’t look too happy

    Thu, December 31, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Right after Jared Tew scored to give Air Force a 14-0, I took a look through my binoculars at a crowd of Houston fans.

    The  fans didn’t look too happy.

    So far, Air Force is employing the same strategy used by Texas-El Paso, Central Florida and East Carolina.

    All those teams used the pass to defeat the nation’s pass leaders.

  • AFA football: Notes before bowl game

    Wed, December 30, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Troy Calhoun drew heat earlier this season for running up the middle on third and 9 in overtime against Navy. The run went nowhere, and the Falcons missed a field goal on the next play.

    But Calhoun remembers a similar call with a completely different result.

    “In the second game of 1986, 35 seconds left, fourth down at the UTEP 42,” said Calhoun, who has an amazing – almost alarming – memory. “I hand the ball off to Pat Evans, and it goes for about 15 yards, and we trot out the field-goal kicker for the last play of the game.”

    And Air Force wins, 23-21.

    “I knew exactly what they were going to do,” said Fisher DeBerry, laughing as he thought back to the call. “I knew there would be a seam there, and I knew Pat would find a way.”


    Houston quarterback Case Keenum, a devout Christian, places a different scripture underneath his eyes before each game.   So far this season, he’s used Romans 12:2 (“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world …) and Isaiah 40: 31 (Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength) and Ephesians 6:11 (Put on the full armor of God …) and the pep talk given to David in 1 Samuel 16:7 (Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.) and Galations 1:10 (Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God?) and Matthew 5:16 (In the same way, let your light shine before men …) and others.

    I asked Keenum which scripture he plans to display for the Air Force game.

    “I haven’t picked one out,” he said. “We’ll see what’s weighing on our hearts.”

    Keenum borrowed the scripture idea from Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.




  • AFA football: Passing game must click for Falcons

    Tue, December 29, 2009 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Air Force will run for big yards against Houston.

    But the Falcons must hit some big passing plays, too.

    Houston’s defense is weak against the run.

    It’s weaker against the pass.

    In last season’s bowl clash with Houston, the Falcons came close to busting a half-dozen big pass plays. In the second quarter, AFA had a chance to seize control of the game through the air.

    Tim Jefferson just missed on several throws.

    You can count on Houston scoring at least four touchdowns on Thursday.

    The Falcons have to find a way to score at least five.

    That means Jefferson and company must deliver through the air.

  • AFA football: Calhoun smiles as he considers dreary weather forecast

    Tue, December 29, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Nasty day forecast in Fort Worth. Snow and ice could be on the way.

    Air Force coach Troy Calhoun has access to a cozy, warm indoor facility for his practice session, which begins at 12:15 central time.

    He doesn’t plan to use the indoor facility, unless the wind is so bad it “blows the ball around.”

    He plans to practice outside.

    “It makes you tough,” he said with a smile on Monday afternoon.

  • AFA football: New appreciation for the seniors of 2007

    Mon, December 28, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    When Troy Calhoun coached the 2007 Air Force football team to nine wins, I was similar to most Falcons observers.

    I gave him much – too much – of the credit.

    More  of the credit should have gone to 16 senior starters.

    I remember a conversation with Milo Bryant, my good friend and a former Gazette columnist. He believed AFA would shock the football world because of those seniors. He even made the outrageous prediction the Falcons would win nine games.

    I disagreed, strongly. I believed all those seniors were the worst thing about the team.


    That’s easy.

    All they had done is lose in their first three seasons.

    But I was wrong, and happy to be wrong.

    Tailback Chad Hall was the leader of those 16 seniors. He delivered a superlative senior year, rushing for 1,478 yards, thrashing Notre Dame and silencing several thousand critics, including me.

    “Not taking anything from coach Calhoun,” Hall said. “He was great, but we did have a strong and talented senior class.”

    Calhoun deserves credit for getting everything possible out of those seniors. He sensed this was a group that didn’t need extensive motivating or endless hitting in practice.

    “He brought us a whole different sort of energy, a whole different style,” Hall said. “One guy (Fisher DeBerry) did it all old school. We wore full pads in practice almost to the end of the week.

    “Coach Calhoun wasn’t big on wearing pads and getting hit every day. He wanted us to do as many reps as we could. He was more for mental reps.

    “It wasn’t as physical, and for me, as a player, that was great. In our senior year, we were old enough. We knew what the game was about. We needed to be as fresh as we could for every game.”

    (I passed along Hall’s words to DeBerry, who laughed for a long time. “I used to wonder if we were hitting enough. Chad might have felt that way because he was kind of small in stature and didn’t want to get beat on. … I thought I might have been a little too soft on them. Maybe you get a little soft as you get older. I used to fight with my coaches all the time, wanting them to wear pads a little more often. That was just my old timey coaching, I guess.”)

    Calhoun admits the senior class surprised him. When he took the job, he didn’t at first see all those seniors as a blessing.

    He quickly changed his view.

    “They weren’t pretty bodies,” he said, “and yet what they were is hungry. They had an appetite to win. That group, that’s what they were. They were dying to win some football games.”

    Yes, they were. The seniors stunned Utah and TCU and came achingly close to an even more impressive finish. They could have – and probably should have – beaten New Mexico and California.

  • AFA bowl notes, take one

    Sun, December 27, 2009 by David Ramsey with 4 comments

    FORT WORTH – Air Force has played six times at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium.

    And lost every time.

    So maybe it’s fortunate that the Falcons are not practicing in the shadow of the stadium.

    Instead, the team is practicing 25 minutes away in Kennedale, a suburb.

    If you know anything about high school football in Texas, you’re not surprised that Kenndale has a state-of-the-art artificial  turf field.

    And an indoor facility.

    An indoor facility that is better – a lot better – than AFA’s indoor facility.