Spring Wrap: Air Force Falcons
By Ken Pomponio
While the majority of Mountain West Conference squads still are thigh-pad deep in spring drills, four programs have already wrapped up their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went for the 2012 MWC bowl participant Air Force Falcons:
- As one of the deans of Mountain West coaches, Troy Calhoun presided over his seventh spring camp at the Academy, and by all accounts, it was one of the most physical springs under Calhoun with pads popping to the limits the NCAA allows. “Response-wise, I wanted to find guys that are durable,” Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “I think the only way you’re really going to know is to put them through some of that duress.”
- With a conference-low eight returning starters, the Falcons are looking to their few experienced leaders, and the defensive backfield is far and away the team’s most seasoned unit with three of four starters returning in cornerbacks Chris Miller and Steffon Batts and safety Christian Spears. That experience showed in the spring, and Calhoun and Co. are counting on that to carry over into fall camp.
- Issue No. 1, of course, is finding a starting quarterback with the departure of Connor Dietz, and while junior-to-be Kale Pearson and rising sophomore Jaleel Awini got in some valuable snaps, they will carry their duel into the fall. Pearson, who has the experience edge and better fits the mold of the traditional run-first AFA QB, is the front-runner at this point, but the strong-armed Awini has shown more than enough flashes to keep himself in the running.
- Graduation hit the Air Force linebacking corps as hard as any position on the squad with all four starters departing. Four sophomores happen to be next in line on the depth chart, but there is plenty of competition to go around, and things clearly won’t be settled until fall camp.
Air Force once again eschewed a traditional spring game, but the Falcons knocked pads in several scrimmages. One standout who was easy to identify was senior utility man Ty MacArthur, the Falcons’ returning leader with 1,013 all-purpose yards. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound MacArthur had a knee scoped in January but was on the field practicing in February, and the Falcons will be counting on him as a receiver, rusher and kick returner again this autumn.
Fall camp kicks off in early August, and the 2013 season follows suit on Aug. 31 with a home date against FCS Colgate.