What's Going on in Colorado Springs?

GoMids.com caught up with Air Force beat writer Frank Schwab to see what expectations are like this season for Navy's big-time rival. Schwab joined The Gazette in Colorado Springs in 2003 and has been covering Air Force athletics since last summer. One thing I wanted to know is if Air Force has their swagger back having beaten the Mids last season.

GoMids: I made a bold prediction that Air Force would beat TCU and come into Annapolis ranked and a heavy favorite against the Mids. Are you getting the feeling being around this team that they are exuding that type of confidence...that this could be a very special season especially with an early win over the Horned Frogs?

 

Frank Schwab: There's a lot of confidence with this team. I think they draw comparisons between the TCU game and last year's BYU game - early in the season, at Air Force, opponent breaking in a new quarterback and a lot of new starters. BYU was pretty good by the end of the year, but they got beat pretty soundly at Air Force in Week 2 because they just weren't ready. Now, I think Gary Patterson is a heck of a coach and they still recruit really well, so it won't be easy. But if the Falcons win that game, they really should be aiming high for the 2011 season.

 

GM: Complete this sentence...Air Force will have a Top-25 type season if…

 

FS: Survive October. The Falcons play at Navy, at Notre Dame, vs. San Diego on a Thursday night, at Boise State and at New Mexico in the month of October. I don't know what the ceiling for those games would be, maybe 3-2? If they do better than that, it should be an incredible season for Air Force. But that is as tough of a calendar month as AFA has ever had in football. Four road games, four of five are likely bowl teams, and the one home game is a short turnaround. Very tough.

 

GM: Complete this sentence...Air Force will be in trouble this season if...

 

FS: Injuries hit. Air Force isn't the biggest or deepest team, so the threat of injuries is always a concern. Also, the Falcons will be in trouble if the front seven doesn't take a step up. There wasn't enough pass rush last year and they didn't stop the run well enough - with most of the starters back, that should change.

 

GM: How many more seasons will Air Force be able to keep the big boys away from luring Troy Calhoun out of Colorado Springs?

 

FS: I wouldn't be surprised if it's 20 or more. When Calhoun basically turned away any interest from the Denver Broncos last year, that set the bar very, very high. He loves the Air Force - he's an alum and truly believes in the mission. The academy treats him well. So there's no real reason for him to leave. Now, after another good season might he be interested in another job next spring? Could happen. A lot of people have speculated he'd be a good fit with North Carolina. But I can say this - it would have to be a tremendous opportunity for him to leave Air Force. It's a perfect fit between school and coach.

 

GM: What one or two players who might be flying under the radar right now could have big seasons for Air Force?

 

FS: I think safety Brian Lindsay is a guy who could have a huge season. He's got the build of a linebacker (an Air Force linebacker anyway) and can run like a safety. He might have been a more recognizable name if he hadn't broken a collarbone early last season. He will be a vital player for Air Force this year, especially in the service academy games because he can be the eighth player in the box. And on offense, Wes Cobb is a player who the coaches are very impressed with at fullback. He's tough, and yet has the elusiveness of a tailback, since that was his first position at Air Force. The fullback job was wide open after the graduation of three seniors, and Cobb took it.

 

GM: Since winning the Commander in Chief's Trophy, do you sense Air Force players walking with a different swagger? Have expectations risen for 2011 in light of their trip to the White House and win in the bowl game?

 

FS: I think the Navy win, and the BYU win (they hadn't beat either team in seven years), took Air Force's program to the next level. I'm not saying fans were ripping Calhoun for not beating those teams or winning the CIC Trophy, but they were milestones he had not reached. So, yes, I think that changed the attitude of the team a bit. But, that was a very tight win at Air Force for Navy, and going to Navy this season will not be easy. I think people forget that game could have really gone either way. 

 

GM: What has been the biggest surprise in terms of personnel that you have reported on since the beginning of the spring?

 

FS: Honestly, the biggest surprise has been how boring camp has been. And I mean that as a compliment to Air Force. This team has a lot of experience and talent back, and as such, there's just not a lot of intrigue. The players have gone about their business without many issues this month. I mean, for example, what can I say about Tim Jefferson that hasn't been said before? He's been good for three years, and he looks good this camp. I guess if there is one thing, it would be how good the freshman class looks and how excited the coaches are for their potential. They usually downplay the freshmen, but not this class. But even that isn't a total surprise - the prep school had a fantastic team last year, so everyone knew there was a good class coming in.

 

GM: Of course Troy Calhoun will never admit that his team is looking past any team, like Tennessee State in week 3, but one has to think that the Falcons really have what amounts to three weeks to prepare for the Midshipmen, right?

 

FS: Well, knowing Calhoun, they won't talk about Navy before Tennessee State. So, I don't know if it's three weeks of preparation as much as it is three weeks of what should be time to heal, so they're fresh and geared up for Oct. 1. Assuming Tennessee State doesn't give them a game, it'll seem like a 2.5 quarter tune up for Navy, and not the kind of physical game that will wear Air Force out.

 

GM: Is Chad Hall going to make the Eagles roster? Is there a lot of talk about his success in Colorado Springs?

 

FS: Sure seems like he will - his versatility is such a plus when you're putting together a roster. I think there's a lot of excitement about Chad Hall's success, he was an electric player for the Falcons, and to see him make it is exciting for the fans. I think it's also exciting for the players who harbor NFL dreams through their military commitment.

 

Be sure to check out Frank's blog – especially in the weeks leading up to the Navy game. You can check it out by clicking here.


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