Monday, August 20, 2007

Practice Wrap - 8/20

Interesting to watch coach Troy Calhoun during practice today.

The first-team defensive line and some linebackers were working against the first-team offensive line in one area; the first-team defensive secondary and some linebackers were in a pass skeleton drill against the first-team backs and receivers in another area; and the junior varsity backs and receivers were running plays in a third area.

Calhoun kept his eyes everywhere and jumped in periodically with critiques that showed his attention to detail. After “Z” receiver Matt Davis caught a pass and took off, Calhoun told him not to “fall away from the ball” when catching it. “Go get it,” Calhoun said, noting that Davis could start to run a split-second quicker if he did. Moments later, Calhoun tweaked a freshman quarterback’s delivery. And shortly after that he was telling receiver Mike Moffet to fight for a pass in the air.

Lasting image: Jim Ollis sitting glumly on a cart with an ice bag on his left ankle. Ollis was one of the most intriguing players on the Falcons’ roster heading into August. A backup quarterback his first three seasons at Air Force, the coaching staff moved him to running back in hopes of getting him on the field more.

Listed as the backup tailback after spring, Ollis sprained his left ankle on Aug. 6, the Falcons’ first full-contact practice. He finally returned to the field today but re-injured the ankle.

Coach’s quote:
“You make your evaluations based upon productivity. It’s been pretty clear that Scott’s practiced better and played better. And that’s pretty much because he’s been out there.” – Calhoun on Scott Peeples moving ahead of Ryan Williams into the Falcons’ starting fullback slot


Anonymous said...

Interesting article on the Drug Testing. Would have been nice if you could have dug up some data about Failure rates NCAA wide, and which sports and schools were the biggest offenders.

I suspect steroids are rampant, and am a bit surprised nobody at AFA has been busted. I'm VERY skeptical that players at other schoools are not cheating like crazy, and know how to game the system....when to cycle on and off 'roids before testing windows, masking agents etc.

Anonymous said...

Since you apparently attend most practices, here's a pure "opinion" question for you....How would you say the players are responding to Coach Calhoun's style of coaching? He seems much more exacting, more detail oriented, and all business.
Fisher had an amazing rapport with all of the players, but probably less of the intense focus...seems like the best would be a balance. How is the atmosphere of practice affected as a result of the dramatic change? Coach Calhoun is clearly expecting a lot out of his players from a practice and work ethic standpoint, which is outstanding. As he and the team get ready to jump into this season, do you think he is relating well to his players on a personal level?

jake.schaller said...

Hi guys,

A couple responses to the comments today ...

As for the drug testing, the fact that only a small number of athletes are selected from each school for each NCAA test would seem to make it more likely that some might roll the dice, take an illegal substance and hope they don't get selected.

Two things here: One, the NCAA now tests year round, putting some more teeth into the testing. Now a player wouldn't be able to go on a steroid "cycle" in the summer and know he/she wouldn't have any chance of being tested. That player then could cycle off the drug before the start of the season.

Two, many Division I schools now test their own players, and it is my understanding that they aren't required to give up the results to the NCAA. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

Now, as for the practices, I think the players are responding extremely well to coach Calhoun and his new staff. The coaches are young, energetic and bring a lot of intensity to the field, and practices reflect that.
That said, any time there is a coaching change, some players are shaken out of a comfort zone while others - who maybe didn't play so much under the previous regime - feel like they have been afforded a new start. That dynamic, I think, would kick up the intensity at practices no matter what the style of the new staff.

Air Force's practices seem to reflect Calhoun's NFL background a bit, but I do think he and the assistants are building a good rapport with the players. I think the fact that 10 of the coaches on staff attended the academy has a lot to do with that.