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Air Force football notes: Position battles beginning to take shape

August 9, 2017 Updated: August 9, 2017 at 9:35 pm
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photo - Receiver Jacob Matkovich makes a catch during spring practice Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Air Force Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Receiver Jacob Matkovich makes a catch during spring practice Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Air Force Academy. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Air Force is five days into fall practice, so that warming-up period is over and it’s at that point where position battles will become a focus.

Right now, there’s a bunch of them.

At receiver it’s still a four-way battle between senior Cody Bronkar, juniors Jake Matkovich and Marcus Bennett and sophomore Geraud Sanders.

“We’ll see how the season goes,” offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen said. “We’ll see how it sorts out.”

Defensively, where 10 positions will see new starters, about half are entirely unsettled.

Defensive coordinator Steve Russ said the safety position in particular is a work in progress, and the team won’t hesitate to move someone from strong safety to free safety – or the other way – to ensure they get the two best on the field. As of now, juniors Kyle Floyd and Garrett Kauppila have run with the first team, but that could change with sophomore James Jones IV among those pushing for time.

“It’s as wide open as wide open gets,” Russ said. “I know we’ll have to start making some decisions, and I know that’s sometimes coach speak, but that could not be more true.”

At the spur linebacker position, Ja’Mel Sanders and Shaq Vereen are “locked in a death match,” Russ said. At cornerback, junior Robert Bullard has moved to the first team opposite senior Marquis Griffin, but junior Dailen Sutton is still very much in the picture.

“Just because I’m here right now doesn’t mean I’m going to be here tomorrow,” Bullard said. “You’ve got to come every day with that sense of urgency and will to work.”

 

Schedule for upcoming days

After practicing in evenings and a morning to accommodate various scheduling conflicts, Air Force will settle into a regular routine now as school begins Thursday.

Team meetings will be held from 2-3:45 p.m., with the team then practicing from 4-5:30 p.m. On Saturdays they will scrimmage, though it has not yet been announced if this week’s Saturday scrimmage will be held on the practice fields or Falcon Stadium.

 

Fundraiser gets second

Air Force athletics raised $160,000 last year with its first “A Night of Excellence” dinner and auction, so it will give the event a second go-round Saturday at Cheyenne Mountain Hotel and Resort.

Travel experiences with Air Force football, golf packages and private vacation homes are among the items to be auctioned.

 

Injury updates

Outside linebacker R.J. Jackson, offensive tackle Jake Barnhorst and cornerback Brett Baldwin haven’t seen action yet in camp because of unspecified injuries. Bronkar joined them on the sidelines Wednesday.

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