Air Force coach Calhoun spreading his time among all three phases

FRANK SCHWAB Updated: August 27, 2010 at 12:00 am • Published: August 27, 2010

In 2007, Troy Calhoun was still in offensive coordinator mode.

As Air Force’s first-year coach, a year removed from being the Texans’ offensive coordinator, he had the power to call all of the plays, and he used it. He spent a majority of his time concentrating on his team’s offense.

When the Falcons lost 42-36 to California in the Armed Forces Bowl at the end of that year, allowing 507 yards, Calhoun had to change.

“The bowl game against California is probably when I figured, ‘This isn’t completely best for our football team,’” Calhoun said.

Calhoun rearranged his priorities, as well as some of his play-calling responsibilities. He isn’t spending most of his time on offense anymore, and he delegates some play-calling duties to his staff.

Many of Air Force’s play calls this season will come from either defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt on the field or co-offensive coordinators Mike Thiessen and Blane Morgan in the press box. Calhoun hasn’t given all of his play-calling power away. When he feels the need, he will veto a call before it hits the field, sending in his own play instead.

“Too much, probably,” Calhoun said with a smile.

Thiessen said Calhoun is realistically still the offensive coordinator because he’s so involved during the week with formulating the offensive plan. But when Calhoun hands over play-calling responsibilities, it shows he trusts his staff.

“He does a great job when he does turn it over to let it go and not second-guess and trusting us, but he provides a lot of feedback with what he’s seeing,” Thiessen said.

After his first season, Calhoun changed his schedule to be more hands-on with the defense and special teams. He watches practice tape and helps set the game plan first for the defense, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. He then spends about 1 1/2 hours doing the same with the offensive staff, and he sets aside an hour for special teams.

Calhoun noticed some trends he didn’t like on defense his first season, and he preferred more four-man fronts and varied coverages. Since he was the head of the program, it would succeed or fail on his watch, and he wanted things done to his specifications.

“I think you need to be involved in everything you do with your program,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said it doesn’t work to have a sole focus on offense, defense, recruiting or any one area of a program. He had experience as an assistant in all phases of the game, and because he’s involved with the defensive as much as the offense now, he’s comfortable offering ideas to Wallerstedt during games.

“He’s going to see some things, and he’s got a bright mind,” Wallerstedt said. “He sees schemes and the flow of the game, and he’s going to put in some great suggestions to us when it’s needed, and sometimes you don’t hear from him.”

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