By JAKE SCHALLER, THE GAZETTE
As today’s session was the last official practice of the preseason, this will be the last “Practice Wrap” entry to the Air Force blog. I’ll still check in consistently – probably daily – but not specifically about each practice.
One other blog-related note. I’ll be posting from the press box before, during and after games, so if you’re not able to make it to Falcon Stadium, check in here, and I’ll try to help you get a feel for the weather, how the players look warming up and whatever else I can think of.
Now for some thoughts on today’s scrimmage:
Who stood out: Senior outside linebacker Julian Madrid. Air Force’s defense places a premium on its outside linebackers creating turnovers, wreaking havoc with blitzes and pressuring the quarterback. Madrid seems like the kind of player that can do all that. On Saturday he knocked down a pass and also forced a fumble when he got to the quarterback and stripped the ball.
“You can tell he’s active, he’s got good strength,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “What he’s got to learn to do, there’s going to be some times where he’s going to be lined up over a tight end. He’s got to learn to be a little more comfortable that way. When he’s out in space, you can tell he loves it.”
Kip McCarthy, as will be pointed out in an article that will appear in the Sunday edition of The Gazette, ran the ball effectively Saturday. He picked up 44 yards on seven carries (according to the statistics I kept), including a burst up the middle of 18 yards. He’s always going forward – none of his rushes covered less than 3 yards.
“I thought (McCarthy) ran the ball hard,” Calhoun said. “I thought he was decisive and got the ball forward, got it downhill.”
Tailback Jim Ollis dressed but did not play today. Calhoun said he “could” be ready for next Saturday.
“He could’ve gone today and we just decided not to, just to give him two more days to let him heal up. I think he’ll be out there Monday ready to practice. Now will he be to a point where he’s ready to play in a game? We’ll find out.”
Calhoun also said he thought both deep snappers – Scott Howley and Tony Norman – “both did a solid job today.”
Finally, freshman Reggie Rembert, as he has done all through the preseason, flashed some serious potential. He returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score and looked dangerous as a punt returner. He returned a punt 30 yards after catching the ball in traffic and making a quick move to beat the initial would-be tackler.
“I really hate fair catches, so any little, slight chance I could maybe catch it and get a little side-step, I’m going to try to do that,” Rembert said.
Calhoun said Rembert needs to work on tucking the ball away so opponents can’t strip it.
Lasting image: Running backs coach/running game coordinator Jemal Singleton getting after freshman Savier Stephens on the sideline after Stephens failed to look for a signal and lined up in the wrong spot.
You can always tell who coaches like – and who they think has lots of potential – by looking at who they stay after and yell at constantly.
I asked Stephens about this earlier in the week: “Yes sir, coach Singleton,” Stephens said. “He will make you better. He won’t let you get in a comfort zone. He’ll keep you on your toes.”
Line of the day: “I think the Browns are going to win 49-7, I think I said that before and it worked, so I’ll try it again.” – Air Force quarterback and Cleveland-area native Shaun Carney, when asked for his prediction on Saturday night’s NFL preseason game between the Browns and Broncos.
Carney was referencing a claim he made to a New York-area newspaper before last year’s Army game. Asked for a prediction, Carney said he thought the Falcons would win, 49-7. It enraged Army players, but Carney proved a prophet, as Air Force won 43-7.