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The AFA is a different kind of program

The AFA is a different kind of program

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on September 12, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Thursday, September 12, 2013.

Why do people across the country admire the Air Force football team?  Because of numbers like these.  The Falcons have one of the smallest sets of offensive and defensive lines in college football.  On the O-line, they average 6-2, 261 pounds.  That’s why the Academy gets so creative with its run game—and its blocking schemes.  It compensates for lack of size.  Air Force is renowned for its cut-blocking, something that is difficult for Boise State’s scout team to replicate as it prepares for tomorrow night’s game against the Falcons.  Especially during a short work week.  “It’s really important that they get it right the first time (in practice),” said coach Chris Petersen of his scout players, adding, “When you play Air Force, it’s a complete team game.”

Air Force’s defensive line average is 6-4, 248 pounds, requiring the Falcons to play with great technique and leverage.  “They have a lot of discipline, which just kind of comes with the Air Force—being in a military academy,” said Bronco quarterback Joe Southwick.  It’s in the AFA secondary where there are questions.  Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton threw for 360 yards and five touchdowns on the Falcons last Saturday.

While we’re on the subject of size at Air Force, let’s revisit this from Mountain West Media Days.  Contrary to a widely-held belief, Air Force doesn’t have height and weight restrictions for its cadets (and consequently its football team).  But the Academy does have fitness restrictions.  “I’ve never had a 285-pound lineman,” said Falcon coach Troy Calhoun.  Here’s why.  Prospective cadets have to be able to run 1½ miles in 11 minutes—at an elevation of 7,200 feet.  So, if a 300-pounder could pull that off, he could play for Air Force?  “Yes,” Calhoun said.  “If you run across one who can do it, you send him my way.”

Some more Air Force 101, since it’s been two years since the Falcons played Boise State.  Academy student-athletes carry an average of 19 semester hours of academics each semester.  The cadets take 105 core hours in basic science, social science, humanities and engineering. They must graduate with a minimum of 148 credit hours.  When you add academic hours to military training, Falcon student-athletes graduate with around 200 hours.  And there’s no grace period when students enter the academy, as there are no redshirt years.  Cadets attend for a total of eight semesters—that’s as long as they have to complete their athletic eligibility.  Many scoff at the term “student-athlete” in college football these days.  At Air Force, there’s no asterisk.  It’s real.

The subject was broached this week on Idaho SportsTalk.  Why couldn’t Boise State have played Idaho instead of Tennessee-Martin on the blue turf last Saturday considering the Broncos were more than 3,000 fans short of a sellout?  I’m sure the answer is complicated, but the easy explanation is that the Vandals would want a game in Moscow in return, and Boise State has no interest in going there.  Now comes word that Nevada is playing at Idaho in 2015.  The Wolf Pack had a date to fill after allowing its game at South Florida that year to be moved to 2020 by USF.  Idaho will visit Mackay Stadium in 2017.  Ironically, the only season in the next five in which the Broncos have a definite opening on their non-conference schedule is 2015.

Fresno State is hoping Saturday is its ticket into the Top 25.  The 2-0 Bulldogs play their first road game of the season, taking on Colorado in Boulder.  This is an opponent Fresno State dismantled a year ago, building a 55-0 lead and winning 69-14.  But the Buffaloes are now coached by Mike McIntyre, who turned the San Jose State program around the past two years.  And McIntyre and the Spartans beat the Bulldogs 27-24 in Fresno in their last meeting late in the 2011 season.  Fresno State is favored by 9½ points.  If that holds up, the ‘Dogs will be ranked when they host Boise State in their showdown a week from tomorrow night.

We won’t know much more than we do now about Idaho State after the Bengals’ game Saturday against Western State in Holt Arena.  It’ll be ISU’s second straight contest against a Division II school after the 40-14 win over Dixie State last week.  The Bengals beat Western State 44-7 two years ago, one of only two Idaho State wins that season.  On the other hand, that was the only campaign in the last five the Bengals won more than one.  ISU is hoping to build on the confidence quarterback Justin Arias developed last Saturday, when he threw for 439 yards, the ninth-best total in team history.  Next week Idaho State goes from one “W” school to another.  From Western State to…uh…Washington.

The Miami Dolphins were still missing Jamar Taylor when they convened for practice yesterday.  The former Boise State star missed the opener at Cleveland, and it’ll be tough for him to see playing time this Sunday against Indianapolis if he doesn’t see the practice field.  This isn’t the way Taylor drew it up, but the second-round draft pick is still recovering from offseason hernia surgery and a groin ailment that’s apparently related. 

Every week at, a panel of experts projects a champion for the upcoming tournament.  It’s especially interesting during the FedExCup Playoffs, because only the strong have survived.  There are so many great golfers to choose from.  One of the panelists is Helen Ross, and she picks Graham DeLaet to win the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, IL, the third leg of the series.  He ranks fifth in total birdies, and Conway Farms is a course where you'll need to go low,” writes Ross.  He's tied for second and finished third in the first two Playoffs events so a win is hardly out of the question.”  DeLaet plays today and tomorrow in the No. 2 group with Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar.

At the halfway mark of the Tour Finals, Troy Merritt is No. 10 among the players vying for the final 25 PGA Tour cards up for grabs for next season.  The former Bronco ended the regular season No. 74 on the money list, barely making it into the Finals.  But everyone got a fresh start in the postseason series, and Merritt has seized the opportunity.  He begins the third stage of the Finals today at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship on Ohio State University’s Scarlet course.

This Day In Sports…September 12, 1998, 15 years ago today:

Boise State plays only its second home game ever against a Pac-10 school, as Washington State comes into Bronco Stadium a year after waxing BSU 58-0 in Pullman.  The Broncos led late into the third quarter before WSU pulled away with a 33-21 win.  After the game, Cougar coach Mike Price was asked, “Did it feel like a Pac-10 game out there tonight?”  Price—still very proud of the Cougs’ Rose Bowl appearance on New Year’s Day—smugly replied, “The last time I checked, Boise State played in the Big West.”

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)