Friday, January 4, 2008

Carney Update/Calhoun Thoughts

I’ve gotten a few e-mails regarding the status of Shaun Carney after his injury in Monday’s Armed Forces Bowl.

Here’s what I know:

He’s in Cleveland with his family for the remainder of winter break. As is typical in cases of potential ligament damage to knees, he is being treated for pain and swelling.

When he returns to the academy, according to Air Force sports information director Troy Garnhart, an MRI will be taken of his knee to see exactly what happened – though trainers believe it is a tear of both his MCL and ACL. Then, once swelling has gone down enough, Garnhart said, he’ll have surgery.

According to Garnhart, both head trainer Tony Peck and Dr. (Maj.) John Tokish, the head team physician, believe that while Carney’s injury is significant, he should have a full and normal recovery and not miss significant time at school.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of what coach Troy Calhoun discussed the day after the game in my story that ran in Tuesday’s edition of the Gazette. So I thought I’d drop in some random thoughts from him below.

On when the returning players will begin workouts: “They’ll start with (strength and conditioning coach Matt McGettigan) next week when they come back to school. I just think so much is done there not only physically, but team chemistry-wise. The way we approach lifting, I just think there are some pretty good bonds that are built there. And I think you invest as a group, you get to know each other as a group. For them, he will put them through the flexibility part of it, the strength part of it – core strength included. And we can never do too much speed work at this place. That’s anywhere, but certainly at the Air Force Academy.”

On possibly playing two quarterbacks next year: “When I was at Wake Forest, what we did is we had a guy that was a senior, and we tried to pick spots – eight to 12 plays, a couple series – where a younger guy got in there. … It helps you develop depth. So once that guy became a starter, he’d played. So the game was never too big for him. … I’d like to get to that point.”

On improving the defense: “You look at it this year defensively – when we played against teams maybe where their quarterback had more than 10 career starts, then there were some tough days. Even San Diego State in the (regular season) finale, we relinquished over 500 yards. And we’ve got to develop on that side of the ball. … I think you’ve always got to go back and look not only at the way you game plan but also personnel-wise. We’re going to heavily invest on the defensive side of the ball – that’s the way we’re going to play. And get to a point where we’re a dominant defense. … Everything we do practice-wise, we’ve got to make sure it’s set up to greatly enhance our defense. Even what we choose to do offensively has to be there for the benefit of our defense just because that’s what they’re going to go against all spring and August. That’s going to be our approach. I’m not saying offense isn’t important, because it is. I’ve just always felt that to be a really, really good football team you better be outstanding on defense. I think our best teams at the academy that’s been the case. “

On why he stresses defense: “When you’re disciplined on defense, and when you’re very sturdy on defense, just morale-wise it’s huge. … To me, I just think there’s so much there spirit-wise and discipline-wise. We’ll make strides there.

On trying newcomers at defense first: “What we need to do, if we bring guys in and we try them on the defensive side of the ball first, I think initially that’s where most big guys ought to start, and if they’re not going to crack the two-deep, then we’ll move them over to the offensive line. We bring a guy in at our place that’s got some foot quickness, we need to see can he play corner, can he play safety. I just think that’s where we have to start. And we did that as soon as I got here. … If a guy’s going to play 30 snaps on offense and he’s going to play 20 snaps on defense, we’ll probably put him on defense.”

(Check in tomorrow for thoughts on the Air Force men's basketball team's conference opener at Utah).

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