James Hale recently had a chance to go one-on-one with legendary Air Force Head Coach Fisher DeBerry about his program and this weekend's upcoming game against Oklahoma in Colorado Springs
DeBerry, who is considered a coaching legend in the college football ranks, is entering his 18th season at Air Force after leading the Falcons to a 9-3 record last season.
On the Falcons wishbone attack
The option has been very good to us. To be honest, it gives us an opportunity to compete against the programs that we play and that's something that our players have a great deal of pride in.
One reason why we do it is because it's not something that you see every day. It makes a tough transition for your defense, that is unless you've just got superior defensive personnel like the Sooners have got it doesn't make any difference what a team lines up in.
Certainly, it presents some problems in preparation time, so it does give our guys a chance to compete. That's why we do it. We think it's a little unique and a little different.
You don't have to have big, nasty people to run an option attack, so it sort of goes hand and glove with the kind of personnel we have here.
On coaching at Air Force where the entrance requirements are as tough as any division one football school in the country
To be honest with you, it's different. It's not the most important thing here at the Academy, that's for sure. The mission here at the Academy is to prepare the future leadership of our Air Force. That's what we're all about, is producing our nations' leaders here. And I know no better way to learn leadership training then right out there on the football field or in the Stadium in front of 55-thousand people every Saturday afternoon.
On the difficulties of recruiting to Air Force
Naturally, we'd like to recruit some of the same sort of guys that Oklahoma does. Unfortunately, the guys here understand that they're not going to be able, right away, to compete in the NFL. We do have six kids that are playing in the NFL now, or were. So you have to wait a year or two, and if you make the team they'll release you into a reserve commission. First and foremost, the kids have to be such outstanding students. There's no way that we can compromise on that. It doesn't make any difference how big, how strong or how fast a young man can run. uUnless he's had a very, very strong academic background, there's not anything we can do as far as getting him in school.
The average ACT score here at the Academy is between 1300 and 1350. That's pretty high, and of course every kid here is competing against a lot of valedictorians and salutatorians in there school. Their normal, typical day here at the Academy is that they're competing in the classroom against each other just like they're competing on the field every Saturday afternoon against other universities.
On this year's team
We're a very, very young football team. We only have seven starters returning, in contrast to Oklahoma who has 16 plus there kicking game. I'd think you'd have to say we are a very, very young football team, but we're a very eager football team and anxious to play. I know Oklahoma's glad to have one game under their belts. I'm sure Bob will certainly feel good about that because I think your football team improves the most from the first game to the second game. I thought their defense was just outstanding the other night, and they had some great moments in the kicking game and some great moments offensively. They've got another great football team.
We're just looking forward to playing. I think our defensive front is a very competitive defensive front.
We'll be starting a quarterback (Keith Boyea), like Hybl the other night, that will be making his first start. I know he's anxious to play, and we're anxious to see him play. We think he has the skills to do what we do offensively with the option, but I'd feel a lot better if he had eight or 10 games under his belt at this particular time, and particularly considering who our opposition is.
On Edmond, OK native and backup quarterback Bryan Blew
I thought a year ago he made the most improvement of any young man in our program. Last year, he had an outstanding young man (Mike Thiessen) in front of him. This spring, I think he thought he had a great chance to be the starting quarterback. When he found out we were opening up with his state university I think he got so excited that he just tried so hard in the spring. He's one of the finest young men that I've ever had the pleasure of being around. He's going to be an outstanding option quarterback here. Right now he's running our backup position and could see some playing time. He was also a good track athlete in high school so we're trying to use some of his speed to return kicks for us.
One-on-One with Fisher DeBerry
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