Saturday, August 25, 2007

Practice Wrap – 8/25/07


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.


Anonymous said...

Can you talk a little about the play of the Offensive and Defensive lines today? They are going to decide the outcome of the season by their play.

Also, what is going on with the helmet stripes? There was a great comment posted about this subject on your Aug. 23 entry...I copied it below.

"To bring up the "stripes" debate again, we should definitely keep the stripes. It's a matter of tradition, not opinion.

You don't see the nation's top programs (Notre Dame, USC, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas, and on and on) changing uniforms each and every year. They have a uniform that defines years and years of tradition - tradition Air Force has, too. Just as you won't see Notre Dame with blue stripes on their helmets this year, or Nebraska without stripes on their helmets this year, Air Force should stick to one of the most recognizable helmets in the NCAA - the helmet with the bolts AND the stripes."

...great post.

Anonymous said...


I am excited about's another question: if he really has big time speed and is a playmaker, could you envision a scenario where he might later line up as the "z" receiver in addition to his DB duties..

I would think there has to be additional ways to ensure they effectively utilize his talents...

Thanks for your work and I am SUPER excited about you blogging/posting during the games this season..I can't wait!


Anonymous said...

really liked your story with the informal poll. You could have had more categories for stuff like most military, biggest eater, biggest flirt, etc. Maybe the SID could help you out.

Anonymous said...

The uniforms look terrible, absolutely terrible put the stripes back on the helmets and try to salvage something from these atrocities.

Anonymous said...

I think its too late to restore the uniform. Once you cross the lines of "uniform simplicity" and make changes then its hard to just "go back"....Its has changed so much over the past 20 years that its unreal - heck, I dont even know which one is the real one. We just need to get one and stick with it. And I guess the real problem I have with this year's game uniform is that it has "Air Force" in real small letters.

At the end of the day, we should just remember what Calhoun said about the uniform - "...i dont care what the uniform looks like, I only care whats underneath...".

jake.schaller said...

Hi guys,

All good points about the uniforms. They have changed quite a bit over the years, but the changes this year are more for performance (the jerseys are tighter fitting and the pants are more comfortable, players say) than style. One point I'd make about tradition is that the original Air Force helmets did not have stripes (just lightning bolts). The stripes first appeared in 1980 (or thereabouts). I'll ask coach this week what the final verdict will be on the stripes. I think he's keeping them and playing without them now is just to help the equipment staff (so they don't have to replace them before the first game).
As for the other stuff ...
The lines: I thought both the offensive and defensive lines looked good, but it was hard to glean too much from Saturday because the starters were going against a team of mostly JVers. I think the interior of the line (C Blaine Guenther, Gs Caleb Morris and Nick Charles) will be very, very solid. The tackles are question marks - none have a lot of playing time. And depth is a serious concern. If there are injuries up front, the Falcons could be in trouble.
The defensive line, I think, will surprise people this year. Guys look bigger and there are at least six players who will contribute immediately.
Finally, about Rembert: I don't expect to see him on offense this year because I think he probably has his hands full adapting to the college game as a freshman.
However, if he makes a bunch of plays this season on special teams, maybe he could be a change-of-pace weapon on offense in years to come.