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Tag:AIr Force
Posted on: March 8, 2011 3:47 pm
 

MWC in the right despite Patterson schedule gripe

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As we mentioned in our TCU Spring Primer yesterday , the impending divorce between the Horned Frogs and the Mountain West isn't going to be the amicable type. The conference has responded to TCU's defection to the Big East by inflicting various 2011 schedule-related indignities on the Frogs, including switching their home date against Boise State to a road trip and ignoring TCU's request for a Sept. 10 bye week in favor of a trip to Air Force.

Though Gary Patterson hasn't ever been the sort of coach to rant and rave about forces outside of his control -- see his subdued reaction to the BCS championship conversation excluding his undefeated Frogs each of the past two seasons -- his recent comments have made it clear that he is not pleased with the way his team has been treated:
The schedule stinks.

But nobody at TCU seems all that surprised.

Humored, maybe, as football coach Gary Patterson described himself. Or peeved, as some inside the athletic offices put it ...

"I realize a lot of this is dictated by TV," Patterson said, as spring drills prepared to begin last week. "But if the league said we could have one scheduling request, why didn’t we get it? I’m wondering who else had their requests ignored."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton called the scheduling decisions "bush league" this week, writing that "I thought the league was classier than that."

Certainly, the conference's treatment of TCU isn't entirely "sporting" or "gentlemanly." But there's not much sporting or gentlemanly about the entire BCS system, one that virtually guarantees that a team like the Frogs will abandon the MWC for the greener pastures of an automatic BCS bid at the very first opportunity.

More Mountain West

For the MWC to be able to fend off any future suitors for their new flagship program at Boise -- particularly in light of the fellow defections from Utah and BYU -- they'll almost certainly have to be awarded that bid as soon as possible, and if they can snag a more lucrative television contract along the way, so much the better. Playing nice with TCU does nothing to help the MWC accomplish either of those goals; a Boise win over the Frogs, for instance, counts torwards the numbers in the league's bid application and damages the standing of the conference most likely to have its bid stripped.

Even from a simple perception standpoint, it's worth it to the MWC to saddle TCU with as many obstacles as possible. If the Frogs wipe the floor with the league on their way out, there won't be any hiding from the fact that the conference may have been irreperably damaged goods. If they lose two or three conference games and watch Boise or even San Diego State ascend to the league's top ladder ... well, which one of these scenarios do you think represents the stronger position for the MWC when it comes time to negotiate that next TV contract?

It would be great if everyone in the conference expansion wars played nice and got along and sat down for tea. But the real-world demands of the BCS and its millions means that's a chump's game. You can't blame TCU for feeling aggrieved, but you also can't blame the MWC for refusing to play it.


Posted on: February 18, 2011 12:16 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Army, Navy, Air Force

Posted by Adam Jacobi

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at the service academies -- Army, Navy, and the Air Force Academy -- who all began spring practice yesterday.

Spring Practice Question: Who's going to take the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy in 2011? 

To say there has usually been a talent disparity among the triumverate of military academy football programs is, to say the least, an understatement. If the outcomes of football games were random events, then the odds of the three teams splitting their series at 1-1 apiece would be one in four. In practice, only four times since the inception of the trophy 39 years ago has that happened. Which program is superior changes, of course -- Air Force leads the series, but with only a plurality of trophy wins instead of a majority -- but rarely is it the case that all three teams are on equal footing coming into a season.

We may be at such a situation, though. 2010 marked the first instance in college football history that Army, Navy, and the Air Force all reached bowl games in the same season. Will the trio repeat the feat in 2011? It's quite possible.

Air Force comes into the 2011 (pardon the expression) flying high, and it's easy to see why: the Falcons beat took the C-i-C trophy for the first time in eight years last season, besting Navy 14-6 and walloping Army 42-22. Better yet, QB Tim Jefferson is back for his senior season after rushing for 15 touchdowns and throwing for 10 more. He's the linchpin of the offense and one of the best option quarterbacks in the nation.

The Air Force offense is hardly a one-man show, of course, and it's no surprise that four different players notched over 100 carries on the season in 2010. Tailback and human/waterbug hybrid Asher Clark is also back; Clark led the Falcons in rushing yardage and added five more rushing TDs.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how Air Force's ground game changes with the addition of Des Kitchings as running backs coach and running game coordinator. Kitchings was most recently at Vanderbilt for three seasons, and he was brought in to replace Jamel Singleton, the longtime Air Force assistant who recently joined the staff of incoming Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson this offseason. There probably won't be sweeping changes or anything -- this is still Troy Calhoun's team, after all -- but this is our first opportunity to see how Kitchings addresses the Falcons' ground game and what changes he might implement.

While the current Commander-in-Chief's Trophy holder is Air Force, this rivalry has belonged to Navy for the majority of the decade; the Midshipmen swept the three-pronged rivalry for the seven prior seasons, and even despite losing to the Falcons in 2010, Navy still went 9-4 and earned a bowl bid. This is still a very strong program, in other words.

Unfortunately for Navy, the impossible task of replacing Ricky Dobbs begins this week. Dobbs was arguably Navy's best quarterback since the days of Roger Staubach ('63), and though Dobbs didn't live up to his preseason Heisman hype as a senior, for crying out loud, the man had Heisman hype. Senior-to-be Kriss Proctor appears to be the best bet to replace Dobbs, but if Navy sees a solid spring from Trey Miller, there could be some drama at the QB position.

Where Navy really needs to excel this spring is on defense, however. The Midshipmen struggled at times in 2010, giving up 23 points and almost 400 yards per game, and now that defense needs to replace six starters. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo recently restructured some of his defensive assistants' responsibilities; perhaps that will help the Middies' middling D.

As for Army, for once, the Black Knights are no slouch, having reached their first bowl in 13 years last season: a stirring (if sloppy) 16-14 upset of SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Cadets return starting quarterback Trent Steelman... sort of. Steelman will miss spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery last month. It's on his non-throwing shoulder --the left -- so even if rehabilitation goes slowly, it shouldn't drastically affect his throwing motion.

That said, in 2010, Steelman ran the ball 197 times (which isn't even counting the option plays where he pitched the ball and absorbed contact) to 133 pass attempts, so it's not like he can hide a bum shoulder by hanging out in the pocket all afternoon. The Black Knights will look to depend on Steelman in the fall, so it will be extremely interesting to see how the offense handles not having its leader in the saddle during these spring sessions.

The Black Knights' new team captain is linebacker Steven Erzinger, replacing graduating linebacker Stephen Anderson (so many linebackers; so many Steves) who held the title for the last two seasons. Army technically ranked 29th in total defense in 2010, but a closer look at the yards given up per play actually puts Army down at 84th in the nation, so the defense wasn't so much "good" as "not on the field very much." Erzinger's first task, without doubt, is to get his guys into that "good" category if the Cadets want a shot at the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 3:29 pm
 

Indiana loses fourth assistant coach in a month

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last we checked on Indiana, new head coach Kevin Wilson was having some problems retaining his even-newer assistants. His offensive coordinator had gone back to Boise State, his defensive line coach had defected to Michigan, his secondary coach has fled for Nebraska. The one bright spot was that he'd stopped some of the bleeding by hiring a bright up-and-comer to handle the running backs, Air Force running game coordinator Jemal Singleton.

Consider the bleeding officially resumed :
Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy has completed his coaching staff, adding Jemal Singleton to the staff ...

“I'm very excited about the opportunity to work at Oklahoma State and with Coach Gundy,” Singleton said. “It's a phenomenal program. It's a school I knew a lot about while growing up in Texas and I'm excited to now be a Cowboy myself.”
Though Singleton's exact role in Stillwater is still to be determined, it's expected he'll coach either receivers or running backs.

Also to be determined is why so many coaches seem so eager to leave Bloomington the moment they step into it. On the one hand, all four of the programs who have swooped in the for the new Hooiser assistants have been much larger, more established programs than Wilson's, and all four departed assistants have probably received not-insignificant raises to make the move.

On the other, wouldn't we expect one of these coaches to show some level of loyalty to Wilson and their new employer by sticking it out with the Hoosiers for longer than it takes to unpack the moving van? Is there something about Wilson or the program so toxic that one good look is all it takes to send them fleeing?

We're not likely to get answers to that anytime soon, but unfortunately for Wilson and the Hoosiers, at this rate it looks like the Indiana coaching staff isn't going to be settled anytime soon, either.

Posted on: February 3, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Indiana struggling to hang onto coaches

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Here's some good news for the beleagured Indiana fans out there: your highly-respected new coach, Kevin Wilson, has shown a keen eye in assembling his first Hoosier coaching staff, hiring the kinds of hot up-and-coming coaches that bigger-name programs would be happy to have.

Here's the bad news: those bigger-name programs didn't even wait for the ink to dry on the new Hoosier coaches' contracts before proving exactly how happy to have them they'd be. Wilson was forced to spend part of his Signing Day press conference announcing that two more assistant coaches have taken other jobs, bringing the total up to three after new offensive coordinator Brent Pease returned to Boise State to take the same position following Bryan Harsin's departure to Texas.

One of the two new ex-Hoosiers we mentioned already today : cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond, who appears all but set to coach the secondary at Nebraska. The other is defensive tackles coach Jerry Montgomery, who will now coach the defensive line at Michigan instead.

Both are young coaches that appear to have bright futures, with Raymond a former LSU star and NFL veteran who'd coached the corners at Utah State the past two seasons; Montgomery is a former Iowa player who's gone from Northern Iowa to Wyoming to Indiana and now the Wolverines in just three seasons. But Wilson isn't wasting time mourning his losses, having already filled one of his vacancies with Air Force running backs coach Jemal Singleton, another with Nebraska program intern Brett Dierson, and not exactly shedding tears over the departures:
Wilson explained that he initially wanted Dierson from the beginning, while co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler liked Raymond.

“We’re kind of flip-flopping, one of the guys I wanted they didn’t get and vice-versa. Of guys we went after, we’re going to land on our feet in great shape,” Wilson said.

He concluded that he would rather have a coach at Indiana who wants to be here.

“If it’s better for a guy to be somewhere else, it’s better for his family, better for his career, it’s better he go there than be here,” Wilson said. “I only want guys who really want to be here, are excited about being here.”
That's the right thing for Wilson to say. But more helpful than anything he says will be just keeping the likes of Michigan, Boise, and Nebraska away from what's left of his staff.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 11:08 am
 

Patterson takes high road after schedule change

Posted by Chip Patterson

When the Mountain West Conference made moves to begin boosting it's BCS resume by plucking Boise State from the WAC, they imagined a in-conference rivalry between TCU and the Broncos would certainly draw some of the attention (ahem, revenue opportunities) that the BCS big-wigs value so highly.  I imagine that conference commissioner Craig Thompson was not too happy when he first learned of TCU's exit to the Big East in 2012.

But TCU still has to play 2011 in the Mountain West, and that will include a single conference game against the Broncos.  In the initial arrangements, the game was to be played in Fort Worth.  But the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors decided to switch that game to a home game for Boise State, leaving TCU with a pretty brutal road schedule.

“I wish they had balanced it out a little,” Patterson told Sporting News in a recent telephone interview. “The other two teams that are going to be picked high, Air Force and San Diego State, we’ve got to go on the road there, also. But if you want to win a championship, you’ve got to be able to go on the road and win.”

The official statement from the conference cited "best interests of the conference," which of course reads a lot like: "because TCU decided to bolt."  Patterson could have easily lashed out at the conference, but the 2009 Coach of the Year has clearly decided to take the high road.  TCU is fresh off arguably the biggest win in program history, finishing an undefeated season with a 21-19 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

The Horned Frogs have their eyes set on a national championship now, hoping to use the momentum from the bowl victory to keep them in the voters' good favor come August/September.  It is a very similar plan that Boise State had coming into 2010, the challenge will be not to replicate the regular season loss that knocked them from title contention.
Posted on: December 23, 2010 9:39 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 9:45 pm
 

Four GT players will miss bowl for academics

Posted by Chip Patterson

More news of players getting in trouble on Thursday, but this time the players are going to miss the bowl game.  Georgia Tech announced that four players will miss Monday's Advocare Independence Bowl meeting with Air Force because of academic issues.

Senior defensive end Robert Hall and senior linebacker Anthony Barnes have been ruled academically ineligible by NCAA standards, while sophomore wide receiver Stephen Hill and senior safety Mario Edwards are both ineligible for not meeting Georgia Tech's academic requirements.  Edwards and Hill would both likely have started against Air Force.  Georgia Tech relies heavily on their option offense, but Hill did lead the team in receptions.  

Georgia Tech definitely did not need any more players missing, especially coming into the game a little banged up.  Starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt is attempting to return to play after breaking his right forearm earlier in the season against Virginia Tech.  Sophomore quarterback Tevin Washington has taken over in Nesbitt's place, and the Yellow Jackets will need to get that same kind of help without Hill and Edwards against Air Force.  

Posted on: December 17, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 12:53 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Independence Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Why You Should Watch: It's pretty simple really.  While man is yet to perfect, or even invent time travel, the Independence Bowl will provide you a glimpse of what football in the past looked like.  The thing that intrigues me the most about this game is that both teams run the triple option offense.  Generally the only chance college football fans get to see such a matchup is in the Army-Navy game, but this one has better athletes.

Keys to Victory for Air Force: The key for Air Force is pretty simple, actually: do what it does best.  Run the ball, run the ball, and then run the ball some more.  You would think that a Georgia Tech defense that has spent all season practicing against an offense that runs the option would be better against the run, but the truth is that Tech's front seven just isn't very good at stopping the run.

Which the Falcons will have to exploit.  

Quarterback Tim Jefferson is pretty inconsistent throwing the ball, and Georgia Tech's defensive strength is its secondary.  So if Air Force chooses to throw too often in this game, it will be playing its biggest weakness on offense in Tech's greatest strength on defense.  Which doesn't make sense, and will not lead to a victory.

If Asher Clark isn't the player of the game for Air Force, then the Falcons lost.

Keys to Victory for Georgia Tech: The biggest key for Georgia Tech in this game could be the health of quarterback Josh Nesbitt.  Nesbitt suffered a broken forearm on November 4th against Virginia Tech and hasn't played since.  Tevin Washington has been serviceable filling in for Nesbitt since then, but he's not as good when it comes to decisions and timing in the triple option offense.

The good news for Georgia Tech is that Air Force will be a little thin up front on defense in this game as Zach Payne and Bradley Connor will both miss the game thanks to knee injuries.  This means that Georgia Tech will have to try and wear down a defense that has already shown against Navy this season that it can stop an option attack.

The Independence Bowl is like: a time machine.  As I said before, we don't often get the chance to see two option teams face off in college football these days, so we should take advantage when we can.  This may be the only chance you have in your lifetime to actually travel back to a simpler time, and if you miss out you'll regret it.  In fact, your only chance will be that hopefully some day when we have perfected time travel, a friend will go back in time to present day and tell you to watch it.

Posted on: December 15, 2010 3:03 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Poinsettia Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Why You Should Watch: Because one half of the matchup is Navy, the team that continues to defy its service academy constraints with big wins, bowl berths, and the nation's most reliable year-in-year-out running game ... and their opponent might be even more interesting for the diehard college football fan. San Diego State has long been regarded as the sleeping giant of the Mountain West, a program with the resources and metro recruiting base to challenge for league titles if they ever got the right coach in place. Brady Hoke looks like he might be that coach, and after a huge step forward this season, a Poinsettia win would stamp the Aztecs as the up-and-comer in the new-look MWC.

Plus, this is the last chance to watch Navy's indefatigable Ricky Dobbs, arguably the best triple-option quarterback of college football's past decade. His swan song alone makes the game worth the look.

Keys to Victory for Navy: Things have mostly gone well for the Midshipmen this season, as they enter the bowl with their second straight nine-win campaign already under their belt. But when they've gone wrong, there have been two main culprits. One of them has been the pass defense, which ranks 66th despite playing two games against fellow option teams Air Force and Army . Even with the presence of senior star safety Wyatt Middleton couldn't keep the Midshipmen from giving up an incredible 28 completions in 30 attempts (for 314 yards) in a 34-31 loss to Duke, 413 passing yards and 5 touchdowns in the wild win over East Carolina, and 394 yards and 3 scores to Central Michigan in a 38-37 escape from the 3-9 Chippewas ... all without an interception. If a few leaks aren't plugged, SDSU's Ryan Lindley, the Mountain West's leading passer , will have a field day.

The other issue? Red zone execution. Though their numbers for the year aren't bad, the Midshipmen might have tipped 10 or 11 wins if not for zero points on five different red zone trips against Maryland and just six on three trips against Air Force. If Dobbs continues to throw the way he did down the stretch (including a career high 186 yards against Army) and Navy executes in their usual fashion, the Midshipmen will get their yards. The question is whether they'll turn those into points, and if they do, whether those points will be enough if the pass defense collapses.

Keys to Victory for San Diego State: Most schools would cringe at the thought of having to prepare for Navy's option shenanigans, but the Aztecs have to be quietly confident about the matchup. SDSU has already faced and defeated one option school this season, downing Air Force 27-25 while holding the Falcons to 12 points through the first 52 minutes. Defensive coordinator Rocky Long has years of experience with defending the option from his time as New Mexico's head coach, and he's been better at it than most. Between Long's expertise, the extra time to prepare, and the Aztecs' prior encounter with the option, they should be as ready as anyone to deal with Dobbs and Co. Though it's always easier said than done against the Midshipmen, they'll just have to execute. (It'll also help to have players like Miles Burris around; the first-team all-conference junior linebacker led the Mountain West in tackles-for-loss with 17.)

Offensively, if Lindley is on his game, it's hard to see the Midshipmen doing much to slow down the Aztecs. First-team all-MWC senior wideouts Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson combined for 2,362 receiving yards and present major matchup problems with Sampson's size and Brown's speed. Navy also won't be able to commit extra bodies to pass defense, thanks to the presence of MWC Freshman of the Year Ronnie Hillman, a tough, explosive runner who finished 12th in the nation with 1,304 yards on the ground and averaged a sterling 5.6 yards per-carry. Lindley put up some huge numbers at times, but he also struggled with interceptions, his total of 14 tying for the second-highest in the country. If he can find Brown and Sampson more often than he finds Middleton and the rest of the Navy secondary, the Midshipmen could be in for a long day.

The Poinsettia Bowl is like: a forgotten pulp comic from the 1960s, in which a heroic naval commander, at the end of a long journey, has one final battle to fight when his division is ambushed in San Diego bay by ... a horde of bloodthirsty Aztecs?!?! Like the imaginary tussle out of those comic pages, this one promises to be hard-fought, action-packed (with these two offenses? You bet), and in doubt right up until the final frames.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com