Updated: August 14, 2012 at 12:00 am
Every cadet at Air Force Academy is pretty adept at math, and Mike DeWitt’s prospects this season can be figured out through easy multiplication.
The senior fullback gained 567 yards and 12 touchdowns splitting the snaps almost evenly with Wes Cobb, and is in line to get a vast majority of the fullback snaps this year … if you multiply by two, carrying the one – well, it could mean a heck of a season for the talented back.
“I have set some goals,” DeWitt said when asked about increasing his production. “But I’m just looking forward to the team goals for the most part.”
DeWitt had better rushing numbers than Cobb last year, although both players were effective. So when the Falcons needed a tailback, it was an easy decision to move Cobb there and give DeWitt a larger role at fullback.
Although Air Force split time at the position last year, coach Troy Calhoun has shown he’s willing to give one fullback a heavy load. In 2009, Jared Tew had 238 carries. Last year, Cobb and DeWitt had 217 carries combined.
Being able to stay on the field should be a positive for DeWitt. While splitting time can keep a back fresh, there’s also something to be said about not having to come in cold.
“It’s everything you do – blocking, running, all that stuff – it’s getting into a rhythm, getting more reps in practice and scrimmages,” DeWitt said. “I think it’s definitely going to help me feel more comfortable.”
The coaches are excited about what DeWitt can do.
“He’s really the total package for us at fullback, for what we ask,” running backs coach Ben Miller said.
But they also know there’s one caveat.
“Mike knows his deal with me is, you don’t fumble the ball you’re going to be a heck of a football player,” Miller said.
For all the great games DeWitt had last year, he did have some key fumbles. His turnovers against San Diego State and Wyoming were turning points in those losses. He understands he needs to improve that part of his game – nobody felt worse about the mistakes than DeWitt – and worked in the offseason to do so.
The Falcons backs worked on “up-downs” with the ball every day in the offseason, landing flat on their chests and getting back up without letting go of the ball. DeWitt also watched film of himself running with the ball and found that he was carrying it too low. That can be corrected.
“Looking at film, it was definitely physical with me,” DeWitt said. “I just have to keep my wrist above my elbow and squeeze the ball.”
Contact Frank Schwab: 476-4891
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