Since I’ve gotten some requests, thought I’d pass along some spring football practice observations:
- A lot of time is spent in the first couple weeks of spring practice looking at young players, to identify who can contribute to the program in the fall, or perhaps even further down the line. Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said that approach wasn’t because he has an experienced team coming back, because he doesn’t think he has an experienced team coming back.
“We’re a pretty green team,” Calhoun said.
I disagree, and think most others would – at least when it comes to returning starters or projected starters who played a lot in a timeshare last year. Players like receivers Jonathan Warzeka and Zack Kauth aren’t technically returning starters but they played a lot last year. The only two projected starters Air Force will have that haven’t played much at all are right tackle Kevin Whitt and whoever starts at fullback (Wesley Cobb and Mike DeWitt are the early frontrunners). And, the cornerback spot opposite Anthony Wright will be inexperienced, but Chris Miller, Josh Hall and P.J. Adeji-Paul have all played some.
- The Falcons need a new punter – quarterback Tim Jefferson notwithstanding. David Baska seems to be the favorite, although Calhoun said it is way too early to tell who will punt.
“It’s wide open,” Calhoun said.
Baska is also in line to be the holder on field goals. Ben Cochran handled that duty as a senior last season.
“Like anything new, just getting used to the differences,” kicker Erik Soderberg said. “I feel real confident with David.”
- The offensive line is taking shape. From left to right, the starting line seems that it will be Jason Kons, Jordan Eason, Michael Hester, A.J. Wallerstein and Whitt. Kons, Hester and Wallerstein are returning starters, and Eason played a good amount rotating in the lineup.
- Wright has missed a lot of practice time with a minor injury that won’t be an issue long term, but that has allowed the coaches to take a longer look at the cornerbacks looking to replace Reggie Rembert. One young player who has worked with the first- and second-team defense is Roland Pierce, who will be a sophomore in the fall. He could be a factor in the competition.
- Defensive end Ben Kopacka hasn’t been able to shake a knee injury to do much this spring. He should be ready by the time training camp starts in August, Calhoun said. Harry Kehs seems to have the upper hand on replacing graduated Rick Ricketts in the starting lineup at end.
- Stephan Atrice is back from a Mormon mission – he returned this semester – and has been working at outside linebacker with the second team. He was previously listed as a safety.
- Alex Means has logged most of the time at outside linebacker with the starting defense in Andre Morris’ old spot. Morris was a senior last season. Jamil Cooks should push for that spot in August. If his shoulder holds up, Patrick Hennessey should start at the other outside linebacker spot.
- Brent Michaels and Anthony LaCoste, a couple of converted tailbacks getting a look at the wide-open fullback position, have each made some plays. Michaels has shown some nice receiving skills at times in practice. Calhoun didn’t identify any fullbacks who have separated from the pack.
“We’re a ways off,” Calhoun said.