2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • AFA-Utah postgame: How much did big hit on Jefferson alter AFA’s comeback

    Sat, October 30, 2010 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    We’ll probably never know.

    But Tim Jefferson was not the same after getting bashed by Utah’s  Greg Bird on a failed two-point conversion with 10:22 left.

    Jefferson had been electric, directing the Falcons to two touchdowns in 72 seconds.

    After the hit, he struggled. The Falcons gained 13 yards on the next eight plays and lost their chance at a huge upset.

    After the hit, Jefferson struggled to his feet, staggered a couple steps and had to stop to regain his  balance. He was clearly shook up.

    Could a clear-headed Jefferson have led the Falcons to victory?

    Let me know what you think.

  • AFA-Utah: Falcons have dominated nation’s No. 8 team … and still trail by 4

    Sat, October 30, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The bad news is Air Force has outplayed Utah and still found ways to trail by four points.

    But that’s the good news, too.

    A week after getting smacked upside the head by TCU and never making any serious offensive noise, the Falcons are showing real power against a talented Utah team and there’s every reason to believe a major upset is possible.

    The key?

    That’s easy.

    Hang on to the ball.

  • AFA football: The proper response to Tim Jefferson punting

    Thu, October 28, 2010 by David Ramsey with 5 comments

    Here’s what an opponent should do when quarterback Tim Jefferson drops back to punt on fourth down:

    The opponent should take coach Troy Calhoun up on his dare. The opponent should drop a returner back. This is an especially good idea for Utah, which boasts one of the nation’s top returners in Shaky Smithson. He averages 21 yards per return and has scored twice.

    Yes, this is a bit of a gamble. Jefferson and the Falcons could convert a fourth down into a first down.

    More likely, though, the gamble would inspire Calhoun to call a timeout and send in a real punter, in this case Keil Bartholomew. The gamble would especially make sense if the Falcons needed more than a yard or two. Coach Troy Calhoun would not want Jefferson punting to Smithson.

    Here’s why:

    Jefferson is a fine passer and runner. He’s only a decent punter. His kicks have little loft, and he has only so-so accuracy when he sends his kicks to the sidelines.

    If a returner ever gets his hands on one of Jefferson’s punts it would spell severe trouble for the Falcons.

    We’re talking a possible six points for AFA’s opponent. If Smithson gets his hands on a Jefferson punt, we’re talking a probable six points.

  • A harsh rebuttal, filled with wisdom and truth, to former Gazetteer Jake Schaller

    Wed, October 27, 2010 by David Ramsey with 5 comments

    Former Gazetteer Jake Schaller recently left a comment on this blog calling me a “big meanie.”

    My mother, who was a saint, taught me to ignore people like Jake, saying they weren’t worth my time, but I can’t let his comment pass.

    Here’s the bitter truth about Jake Schaller:

    Under Jake’s watch, the Falcons never defeated Brigham Young (my favorite team, of course) or Navy. The Falcons were a combined 0-8 vs. their biggest rivals.

    Under newly installed beat writer Frank Schwab’s watch, the Falcon are 2-0 against their biggest rivals. (Army ranks third - right behind BYU – on the rivals list, by the way.)

    If Frank had covered the 2007 Falcons, they would have won the Mountain West, finished among the nation’s top dozen teams and, to top it off, Chad Hall would have won the Heisman Trophy.

    Jake has departed Colorado, returning to his native Maryland to study law. I’m not sure what the Schallers are now feeding Norm, the famed BlogDog. You might have noticed Norm picked Air Force to beat TCU.

    (Norm, I know you’re a big fan of this blog. If Jake isn’t treating you right, please know you can return to Colorado and move in here with Sheryl and me.)

    Jake failed to properly inspire the Falcons during his time as beat writer. There’s no way around it. I know this is a harsh criticism, Jake, difficult to hear, and maybe could even lead to someone thinking that I am a “big meanie.”

    But it’s the truth.

  • Former Bronco Nate Jackson writes for NY Times about new NFL rules on hitting

    Mon, October 25, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    This is a good read, a realistic, skeptical look at the NFL’s crusade on dangerous hitting.


  • AFA-TCU postgame: Falcons, once flying high, are in danger of crashing

    Sat, October 23, 2010 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    The Falcons are mired in a two-game losing streak after a 38-7 thumping at the hands of TCU.

    That’s the bad news.

    The good news is Utah offers a virtually perfect way to revive the season.

  • AFA-TCU halftime: Falcons can’t take the safe route to victory

    Sat, October 23, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Twice, the Falcons faced a fourth and very short.

    Twice, the Falcons punted.

    Air Force remains within sight of TCU, and this is a feat that should  not be underestimed. The Horned Frogs had outscored Mountain West opponents, 103-3, heading into this game.

    But Air Force is playing far too cautiously for  a team trying to upset the nation’s No. 4 team. (That ranking, by the way, is too low.)

    Troy Calhoun enjoys the thrills of going for it on fourth down. That’s who he is. That’s how he operates.

    I’m stealing the following observation from fellow Gazetteer Frank Schwab:

    If Calhoun goes for it on fourth down against Colorado State and Wyoming, he should go for it against TCU.

    If Calhoun wants to deliver a massive upset, he must take chances.

    Big chances.

    And so far he’s failed to face up to this requirement.

  • AFA-TCU pregame: Calm night in Texas and that’s bad news for the Falcons

    Sat, October 23, 2010 by David Ramsey with no comments

    This afternoon, the weather was scary in the Metroplex. Drenching rains. Lightning. Tornado warnings.

    It was upset weather.

    Bad weather would have slowed down TCU’s team, which is much faster than the Falcons. Bad weather would have aided Air Force’s running attack.

    Unfortunately for the Falcons, upset weather has gone away.

    It’s a cool, calm night in Fort Worth. Great weather for a football game.

    And that’s bad news for the Falcons, who are seeking to deliver a massive upset.

  • AFA football: Falcons likely facing disaster on this trip to Fort Worth

    Fri, October 22, 2010 by David Ramsey with 27 comments

    I had a good feeling about Air Force’s journey to Oklahoma. Figured the Sooners would struggle with Air Force’s offense. Figured it would be a close, entertaining game.

    Figured correctly, as it turns out. In AFA’s best effort of the season, the Falcons almost upset the Sooners.

    I have a bad feeling about AFA’s journey to Fort Worth to tangle with the mighty Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University.

    The Frogs have won 18 of their last 19 Mountain West games, and they’ve won 15 of those games by 25 or more points. The Horned Frogs have outscored MWC opponents this season, 103-3.

    Yes, the Falcons battled tough against the Frogs a year ago before losing, 20-17, but that game was played at Falcon Stadium.

    And the 2010 Falcons are banged up. Jared Tew is out. Kevin Fogler is out. And that’s the short list.

    Can the Falcons keep the margin under 25 and join an extremely short list?

    I don’t see it.

    This trip to Fort Worth has the look of a disaster waiting to happen.

    Your thoughts?

  • Can the NFL legislate wicked, disturbing hits out of the game?

    Wed, October 20, 2010 by David Ramsey with 1 comment


    Football is, for better and often for worse, a vicious game. It’s a violent game. It’s a dangerous game. It’s a game that leaves players maimed and dazed and confused.

    Face it; we enjoy the mayhem. A good game of football is like a good action movie. There’s a sense that bloody trouble could arrive at any moment.

    Baseball is called America’s Pastime, but that’s not true. Football is America’s game, and we love what is most exciting  – and most repulsive – about the game. Big hits are a blast to watch, even if football is extremely and excessively harsh on the bodies of those who play it.

    NFL defenders are outraged by new punishments set up by the NFL office to discourage exceptionally ruthless behavior. Those defenders who cross the line with helmet-to-helmet or late or otherwise borderline hits can now expect to be suspended on top of paying big fines. 

    “It’s freaking football,” said Chicago Bears linebacker – and big hitter – Brian Urlacher, who was in an especially mocking mood. “You know what we should do? We should just put flags on everybody. Let’s make  it the NFFL – the National Flag Football League. It’s unbelievable.”

    And, in the end, I think it will be futile.

    Football is football. It’s a collision game. It’s a hurting game.

    And you can’t legislate away the pain.

    Here’s a look at a frightening – and, I think, legal – hit on the Eagles DeSean Jackson. (Jackson, by the way, shredded Air Force’s defense in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl.)


    Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000 for this hit, which makes no sense to me. He didn’t do anything that violated the rules. It was an wickedly malicious  hit.

    And it was completely within the rules.