Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Air Force Academy Spirit

Spring football outlook: “Every position is open”

Coaching staff and players totally engage in gridiron strategy during practice Friday afternoon. Photos by Mike Kaplan

Coaching staff and players totally engage in gridiron strategy during practice Friday afternoon. Photos by Mike Kaplan

By Troy Garnhart

Athletic Communications

Air Force head football coach Troy Calhoun’s philosophy with spring football drills is to think outside the box. The coach likes to take a look at things and see if anything sticks. He also likes competition at every position.

How much so?

The coaching staff moved starting tailback Asher Clark, a recruited quarterback, back to his original position to evaluate him. Clark was moved to tailback during fall drills last year and became the starter at mid-season.

“We never really had a chance to fully evaluate him at quarterback last fall and I want him to get a spring practice under his belt at quarterback and see his development. We need to develop some depth at the position,” Calhoun said.

Clark, who finished second on the team in rushing with 588 yards and five touchdowns, had his spring cut short with a slight knee injury that required surgery. The procedure was fully successful and Clark is expected back at full speed during the summer. Halfback Chad Hall had the same procedure prior to his All-American senior campaign in 2007. Clark could begin fall drills back at quarterback and split time at tailback.

Quarterback Tim Jefferson missed most of spring drills to concentrate on his academics and participated in only a handful of practices. The 2008 Mountain West Conference freshman of the year showed improvement and is expected to be back under center this fall.

Jefferson hit 44 of 80 passes for 655 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. He also rushed for 387 yards and three touchdowns and started the last eight games of the season. He won his first five starts and proved the program has a bright future at the position.

Ben Cochran and Connor Dietz received significant action at quarterback throughout the spring. Both will add depth at the position and greatly benefited from the additional spring work.

“We did a lot of work with these guys throughout the spring and we’ll do a lot more Aug. 1 as well,” Calhoun said. “The work Dietz and Cochran received will be beneficial for us. We need to develop depth there.”

“Every position is open,” Calhoun said. “You have to have that at an Academy because you can’t ever stop working to improve. We need to keep things as competitive as possible and keep our edge. We need to have a fire about us. This spring was hands down the most expansive since we’ve been here. We can never relax and just be vanilla.”

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