Saturday, September 6, 2008

Defense continues to shine for Falcons

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming running back Devin Moore is hauled down by an Air Force defender Saturday after a short gain.

By Richard Anderson

Second-year Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun has his defense to fall back on.

At times during his post-game interview session with reporters on Saturday, Calhoun might have sounded much more stoic than ecstatic when talking about his offense.

But defensively, Calhoun liked what he saw, as his Falcons held Wyoming to 216 yards of offense and forced five turnovers in the 23-3 win over the Wyoming Cowboys at War Memorial Stadium.

“I’m pleased with the way we played today. When you look at the points, most of them were scored off of turnovers,” said Calhoun, whose team is now 2-0 on the season.

Basically, 16 of the team’s 23 points came via the Wyoming miscue. The Cowboys lost four fumbles and Air Force intercepted one pass.

Yet, the second-year Air Force coach would have preferred to get into the end zone a little more often.

“It was a little frustrating to only get field goals as points, and in the next few games, we have to turn those into touchdowns,” Calhoun said.

The Air Force offense did break one big play -- a 74-yard run by Kyle Halderman, who was caught by Wyoming safety Chris Prosinski at the 1-yard line. Quarterback Shea Smith took it in from there.

“I thought for sure Halderman’s run would get into the end zone. On a play like that, you have to make sure you don’t hit a triple and then squeeze in a run, you want to be able to get a score on that play,” Calhoun said.

As an offense, the Falcons finished with 276 yards of total offense -- 261 yards on the ground and 15 passing. This is coming off of a 500-yard day last week against Southern Utah.

“I think it is evident that we have to play faster on both sides of the ball. It seemed like we left a lot of big plays out there on the field,” Calhoun said. “Coming into today’s game, I thought it would be a defensive struggle and it was when both offenses were methodical.”

A bright spot for Calhoun certainly was the play of his team’s defense. Linebacker Chris Thomas, defensive end Ryan Kemp, Rick Rickets and free safety Aaron Kirchoff all recovered fumbles, with Thomas, cornerback Reggie Rembert and defensive end Jake Paulson delivering the hits that forced the giveaways. Linebacker Brandon Reeves had the pass interception for Air Force.

“Our defense today was good. I thought we played solid, we faced an inexperienced quarterback, but that’s going to change in the next few weeks,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun was also pleased with the fact that the Falcons were able to win their Mountain West Conference opener away from home. It proved to be a good start for the team.

“Any time you win on the road, it’s a big win,” he said. “But when you beat a team that has a tough defense and a good offensive line, then it becomes a little bigger. We have to be able to grow exponentially game by game this season. It usually takes years to do that, but we need to find a way to make that faster.”

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