Here’s an abbreviated transcript of Troy’s remarks:

Thanks for being here this afternoon – to still be a week and a half out from opening kickoff and to have this kind of turnout, it tells you what kind of enthusiasm you have for not only Air Force Football, but for the Air Force Academy – I really appreciate your support.

We are really excited to get cranked up and rolling with this season. Had a winning streak for 6 straight years where we went to a bowl game – I won’t say we got spoiled, but my daughter said it last Christmas: do you think Santa Claus knows that he’s going to have to come down the chimney in our Colorado home? All those other years, Santa had to go to Shreveport or Fort Worth.

Basic cadets: Our Basics in-processed on Thursday, June 26 – they’ve been going for 8 straight weeks – for 54 of the last 56 days these guys have had either practice or Basic training – a couple of those days they had both.

You talk about commitment from a terrific group – I thought they handled the physical aspects of Basic Training very well – and spirit-wise, they’re exactly what we want – good workers, have a good charge to them – now they’re trying to tackle the Dean in addition to football – we’ll see how they do as we roll through the fall semester.

Practice: We started practice on July 31 – exactly 3 weeks ago – the team has done really well. We’ve had very physical practices – we’re going to have to block and tackle exceptionally well because we’re going to have to run into bigger and faster bodies than we have. Fundamentally, I’ve been really pleased.

Quarterback: I’ll go through the spots. At QB, we have 3 guys who started at least one game last year. Karson Roberts came in and played well. Nate Romine as a freshman played in our victory over Army last year, and then Kale Pearson, who we anticipated was going to be our starter last season, was hurt in the first half of the first game with an ACL – needed surgery – its been encouraging to see the progress that Kale has made – he runs well, throws well – great humility – someone who absolutely has earned the respect of his teammates. Today we vote for team captains, and Kale will probably be one.

Offensive line: In the offensive line, we have guys with good bodies – not saying they’re huge – we aren’t 315/320 like other schools along the Front Range. We do have Michael Husar at center – as good a center as any in this Conference, and maybe in college football. He’s a senior, and is built thick and wide – a true block of granite.

We have good players at the skill position with Jalen Robinette (WR) and Garrett Griffin (TE) – both underclassmen. On the defensive side of the ball we have a good number of guys who have come back. I thought last year we had far too many freshmen or sophomores playing – this year what’s encouraging we have a bunch of juniors and seniors, with a few sophomores and no freshmen.

So that means that there’s nobody coming out of that Basic Training stretch – we have a few guys who are sophomores that had the survival training – that means we’re going to be that much bigger, stronger and intuitive/instinctive in the way we play.

You’ll see we’re going to make a really significant improvement defensively.

Special teams: Harrison Elliott is a good a deep snapper as there is in college football.   Will Conant was 11/13 last year on field goals – many of them were beyond 45 yards – in addition to kicking field goals and extra points, he may also be our punter. Another guy you’ll see is Drew Oehrle, who may handle our kickoffs.

Last year: I’ll share this with you about last year’s squad. We only had 17 seniors, and unfortunately we had a good number of them who were dinged early in the season. At the time, a player who I thought was going to be a dynamite player – Chris Miller – got a concussion and came to me and said he was going to be OK in a week – I told the trainers “if it involves concussion, no way” – you’ve got to draw a line – a bruise or scratch will heal – but when it involves a concussion you start getting into more serious ramifications.

By the end of the year, we were only able to play 12 or 13 of those 17 seniors, and each one graduated. We’re quite proud that since August, 2007, 141 out of 142 seniors graduated and went on to serve as officers in the USAF. Ultimately that’s what we’re all about. If there’s someone at the Academy who can’t meet the standards, we don’t want them here.

Questions

  • Is there any equipment coming that will better protect players from concussions? We’re looking at something that the Army uses – a technology that uses Kevlar inside the helmet. On the Rules Committee, we’ve tried to eliminate bad hits – called targeting – when you hit somebody above the neck or to the head when you don’t need to. That’s a penalty with a possible ejection. We’ve also learned that it’s good for the helmet to be really slick.
  • Tell us more about the quarterback position. Kale Pearson and Nate Romine have distinguished themselves – Karson Roberts is always ready to go – rushed for over 160 yards last year against Nevada – he’s been on the Dean’s List every semester, majoring in Mechanical Engineering – a sharp cookie. These guys are going to be able to run it and throw it well, executing some of our predetermined plays – makes it harder to defend.
  • How did you do in recruiting this year? I’m ecstatic about this group of freshmen – our best indicator is how well they did in Basic Training. First and foremost you’re an officer candidate at the AFA – you wake up at 4:30 in the morning for 40 days and 40 nights, you’re going into a different world – you’re training to be in the profession of arms. It takes a little while for your body to return – when you’re going through Basic Training, athletically those movements have very little correlation with what you do in football – we want quick twitch fibers, explosive movement, back squat power playing, and great skill. People say the skill players are the guys with the ball – wide receiver, quarterback, absolutely – but if you don’t handle a ball for 40 days – even for the defensive linemen, the pass rush skills – you have to re-acquire those moves.   I really like this group – they’re a little bit bigger – we have some guys in the 280s, which is tiny in college football – they have good frames and good length – they’re guys who have some good development potential – it’s a great group. One guy you could see play for us this fall on special teams is linebacker #44 Grant Robbs from Houston with a 3.92 GPA – has played really well during August.
  • You have a new defensive back coach who came from Maryland? We have two new coaches on our staff: one is Ron Vanderlin – Ron coached @ Colorado during those two years when they played for the national championship (90,91) and one year when they beat Notre Dame to win it – then he was defensive coordinator at Northwestern when they won the Big 10 and played in the Rose Bowl – he was the head coach @ U of MD – super football coach and one class human being – so Ron’s with us now, and Tim Cross is our defensive line coach – Tim’s been at U of MN, Syracuse and most recently at U of TX – both of those guys are really high quality additions for us
  • What are you going to do differently in the defensive backfield this year? We’re going to play more man coverage – we’re going to get so close we‘ll make sure you brushed your teeth that morning – that does is make little tighter windows for the QB to throw the ball. We also have a little more experience – looking at corners like Gavin McHenry (DB), Justin DeCoud (DB), and Jordan Mays (DB) – those guys have played some ball for us – you’ll see more man coverage and a lot more pressure – those linebackers are going to cause some trouble in the backfield.
  • How does West Point and Annapolis get away with heavier players than we do? In out aerobics test you have to run 1.5 miles in 11m15s, and you’re at 7200’ above sea level – a lot different oxygen here. They are able to use a bike test on a stationary bike for their aerobics test – each branch of service has their own test – I’m going to respect that.
  • How are the locker room renovations going?  We really appreciate the contribution that the Denver QBC made. We renovated the locker room beside the field house where the guys dress each day – we wanted to show a connection with past players, so in each locker, there’s a plaque showing all past players with that jersey number. At the stadium, we replaced the ceiling tiles and carpet, repainted the walls, and freshened the place up a little bit – thanks for helping with that, also.

We kick off in only 9 days – Nicholls State – we’ve got a heck of a home schedule – 2nd game is an easy one, Boise State, then Navy, New Mexico, Nevada and CSU.

Come to practice:  I want you to know you’re invited to come to practice – which doesn’t always happen in college football. We’d love to have anyone attend practice, and will get you as close to the action as we possibly can – we want you down there.

This season we’re going to play AF football – we’ll stay a little healthier this year – we’re not going to start 4-0 if we have to start 4 noseguards, or have to get to Bob Knorr as our 5th string QB – we’re a little older, and our guys have done a heck of a job in the weight room.

Closing: Its amazing the number of years that the Quarterback Club has helped the Air Force Academy – I come up to talk about football, but what you do is to make our institution a better place – we need that support – we need that kind of help – we can’t rely on Uncle Sam – the only way it happens is one handshake at a time – sharing our gratitude.

Prepared by Ray Haygood


2017 AFA Football Schedule

AFA Football Schedule 2017
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