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AFA notes: Keeton for Heisman?

September 7, 2013 Updated: September 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm
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Utah State Aggie Chuckie Keeton looks to pass during a NCAA college football game between the Air Force Falcons and the Utah State Aggies at Falcon Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 in Air Force Academy, Colo. The Aggies defeated the Falcons 52-20. (Kent Nishimura, The Gazette)

Keeton for Heisman?

Utah State's Chuckie Keeton was once a Troy Calhoun recruit, even verbally committing to Air Force for two months before changing his mind. Now, Keeton is emerging as a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate, and Calhoun supports the idea.

"I think he's exceptionally quick, great field awareness, extremely skilled as a passer," Calhoun said. "He's as good as you're going to see as a quarterback this year. I know the guy in College Station is pretty good. This guy is pretty darn good."

The guy in College Station, by the way, refers to Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, last year's Heisman winner.

In two games, Keeton is 63 of 80 for 674 yards and seven touchdowns. He has rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown.

Keeton said this game wasn't as pain free as it looked.

"I've got some bruises, and I'm bleeding a little bit," he said. "It's definitely not easy. But this is definitely a team full of fighters on this Air Force team."

Not how he drew it up

Jaleel Awini first start at quarterback began with a major thud, as he fumbled on the first play.

Utah State recovered and scored four plays later, building a two-touchdown lead before Air Force had taken its second snap.

"He got thumped," Calhoun said. "You've just got to know that if you're going to play against a really good football team that it is going to be a stern, really aggressive; you better get your pads down and hit. It had a chance to be a 4-yard gain and make it second and 6. Instead it's a fumble, they score quickly thereafter and it's a 14-0 game."

Awini rushed 11 times for 48 yards and a touchdown, and said he didn't have any problem shaking off the play.

"As a quarterback you've got to have a short memory," the sophomore said. "It was already out of my head when I got to the sideline."

Failed fake punt

Punter David Baska is one of Air Force's best athletes, and the Falcons will not hesitate to find ways to utilize him. His number was called for a fake punt on a 4th-and-3 in the third quarter with the Falcons trailing 38-13.

He was forced out of bounds 3 yards short.

"The fake punt was a big turning point, big momentum changer," Utah State coach Matt Wells said.

Utah State proceeded to mount a seven-play scoring drive after the failed fake.

On three other occasions Air Force went for it on 4th-and-short and converted, once thanks to an Aggies offside penalty.

Also ...

Air Force has scored a rushing touchdown in 49 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation. ... Joey Nichol led Air Force with a career-high 13 tackles. ... The 52 points were the most allowed in the seven years under Calhoun and most by Air Force since a 62-41 loss to BYU on Oct. 29, 2005.

Brent Briggeman, The Gazette

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