Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Depth Chart Moves

There were plenty of changes on the updated two-deep chart released by Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun on Tuesday (scroll down to see the full chart).

But that’s to be expected with so many positions considered to be wide open at this point. Calhoun said if coaches released a new depth chart after each practice “we’d probably have five changes every day.”

So how does Calhoun decide who belongs on the two-deep?

“You just want guys that are completely reliable,” Calhoun said. “And I think guys that are dependable and guys that are productive are the ones that get a chance to move to the surface and work with the primary units.”

Here are the changes from the initial spring two-deep chart:

Quarterback: Eric Herbort, listed as a backup on the first depth chart, moved in front of Shea Smith. But Herbort by no means has a stranglehold on the position.

“They’ve been pretty balanced,” Calhoun said of Herbort and Smith. “And that could continue to flip back and forth.”

Much more on the quarterback battle in an upcoming edition of The Gazette – likely this Sunday’s or Monday’s.

Tailback: Sophomore-to-be Savier Stephens and junior-to-be Brenton Byrd were listed as the starter and backup, respectively, at the start of spring practice.

But Stephens, the leading returning rusher from the 2007 squad, has been held out of practice because of a hernia that will require surgery. And Byrd (see below) is getting a look at cornerback.

So two players who were on the Falcons’ junior varsity as freshmen in 2007 – Kyle Lumpkin and Chase Wilke – now are listed as the starter and backup, respectively.

“They’re the two best tailbacks,” Calhoun said. “I think it’s the fairest way to operate is the guys that play the best are the guys that are in the two-deep. … Lumpkin, the kid loves football. He’s spunky, he’s a tough little nut. He’s got to learn how to run a little bit more downhill. But we’ll see how he does.”

Wide Receiver-X: Kevin Fogler, who will be a sophomore next year, moved in front of senior-to-be Spencer Armstrong as the backup to Sean Quintana.

Fogler impressed coaches in the first half of spring by making plenty of plays – specifically coming up with tough catches. “That’s a guy that every day did something in practice,” Calhoun said.

Fogler has an impressive 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame. And Calhoun said Fogler “plays with length.”

“There are times when guys are 6-4 and they play like they’re 5-6,” he said. “This guy’s 6-6 and he plays like he’s 6-6. He’s a great target. … You talk about the old term ‘upside,’ this guy has some.”

Tight End: Another sophomore-to-be, Steve Shaffer, moved in front of senior-to-be Keith Madsen as the backup to starter Travis Dekker. Shaffer is 6-4 and 230 pounds and began to emerge toward the end of last season. He, like Fogler, has plenty of upside.

Fullback: Jared Tew, who will be a sophomore next year, now is listed as the backup to Todd Newell, replacing junior-to-be Justin Moore.

Right Guard: Tyler Shonsheck, who will be a sophomore next year, now is listed as the backup to Peter Lusk, replacing senior-to-be Tyler Weeks.

Defensive Line: A few changes because of a knee injury suffered by nose guard Jared Marvin, who will be a senior next year.

Marvin tore both the ACL and MCL in his knee prior to spring break. He had surgery on March 17 and is expected to be out five to seven months.

With Marvin out, Ben Garland – listed as the starting left end at the beginning of spring – has moved inside to starting nose guard. Jake Paulson, who began spring as Garland’s backup, now is listed as the starting left end. Ryan Gonzales, a nose guard last year, now is listed as Paulson’s backup.

Inside linebacker: At one inside spot, Ken Lamendola, who will be a sophomore next year, now is listed as the starter, bumping Brandon Reeves. Justin Moore, who will be a junior next year, is listed as Lamendola’s backup.

Cornerback: Byrd, who began spring as the Falcons’ backup tailback, is trying his hand at corner. Calhoun said Byrd will finish spring there. Kevin Rivers, originally listed as a starter, has not practiced due to injury and now is not on the depth chart. Ryan Curry, who will be a sophomore next year, is listed as Byrd’s backup, replacing Devon Ford.

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