Football is back! Well kind of. The Air Force Falcons began spring practice on Tuesday, yes it is still winter but the reason the Falcons start practice this early is so that they can spend the last half of the spring semester studying and to have ample recovery time if any players suffer any major injuries.
Head coach Troy Calhoun has already announced a few position changes with Wale Lawal who will make the change from outside linebacker to defensive end and with Kyle Shaw who will make the transition from defensive tackle to offensive tackle. P.J. Adeji-Paul will most likely move from safety to cornerback to battle for a starting job. Adeji-Paul is a natural cornerback, but he was moved to safety last year due to the Falcons having depth at the cornerback position. He will be compete with Josh Hall and Chris Miller to see who replace outgoing starter Reggie Rembert. Rembert will be a tough player to replace since he was a first team all-conference player from 2009-2010 and was named to the American Football Coaches Association first team this past season.
The Falcons bring back most of their offense and defense which includes quarterback Tim Jefferson and 1,000 yard rusher Asher Clark, but the main question this spring for the Falcons to answer is who will be their new fullback. The Falcon triple-option offense is predicated by having a good fullback who will be used to run the monotonous fullback dive and also is used to fake the dive to suck in the defensive line as the quarterback goes off to run an option play to the outside.
The Falcons lost their top three fullbacks from last year and the only returning player with significant playing time is Mike DeWitt, but he was injured for most of last season. Head coach Troy Calhoun has gone far enough to say that an incoming freshman could see some time if they pick up the offense. So in short, the fullback job is wide open.
Here's a look at where Air Force stands as it heads into spring practice.
The strengths heading into the spring are quarterback Tim Jefferson gives Air Force who is on par with San Diego State's Ryan Lindley and just behind Boise State's Kellen Moore for best Mountain West quarterback. Last season, Jefferson rushed for 794 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per carry last season. He also threw for 1,459 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions. His downside is that he only completed 51.6 percent of his passes. The Falcons also return running back Asher Clark, who rushed for 1,031 yards and scored five touchdowns last season while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
The expectations for Air Force will be high again in 2011 as they have a legitimate shot at winning the Mountain West with their style of play coupled with the amount of returning players they have. That is premature talk, but a minimum of nine wins should be the goal for Air Force next year.