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Expect to see full roster as Air Force football prepares for competitive spring game

March 16, 2018 Updated: March 16, 2018 at 5:27 pm
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Air Force Falcons fullback Taven Birdow (23) runs the ball for a touchdown against Wyoming Cowboys at Falcon Stadium at Falcon Stadium, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday November 11, 2017. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

Antoine Worthman wasn’t going to bother traveling to Colorado Springs for Air Force’s spring game without assurance that it would be worth the trip from Illinois.

Would his son, Arion, returning for a third season as the Falcons quarterback, play and be exposed to real-game conditions? To find out, he checked with coach Troy Calhoun and offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen.

That Antoine will be at Falcon Stadium for Saturday’s 11 a.m. spring game indicates he heard enough to be convinced.

“I’m excited to get some work in,” Arion Worthman said. “Go full speed and have an opportunity to get better.”

While past Air Force spring scrimmages have seen limited – if any – action for returning-starter veterans, this one promises to follow the tone of the spring session to this point and include actual game conditions for the full roster.

“It’s going to be a bunch of scrimmage,” Calhoun said. “I mean a bunch.”

The format, Calhoun said, would be to pit offensive and defensive groups against each other. He didn’t feel there was enough depth at some positions to divide into two full teams, which would be his preference.

There is no cost to attend.

As for the action, there will be plenty to watch. In addition to Worthman, look for juniors (to be) Isaiah Sanders and Michael Schmidt to see extensive time, as well as sophomores Donald Hammond and Beau English.

The position attracting the top attention ought to be the open battle at tailback. With Tim McVey gone to graduation and last year’s top backup, Nolan Eriksen, out since early in spring practice with an undisclosed injury, this position is begging for someone to surge ahead with a breakout game. The top candidates are junior Joseph Saucier, who has taken most first-team reps recently, senior Malik Miller and sophomores Josh Stoner and Kade Remsberg.

“There’s some young, talented guys,” running backs coach Ben Miller said. “Josh Stoner has done a nice job. Kade Remsberg had done a nice job. But they’re young and they’ve got to learn where to go, where to be. They’ve definitely got some talent and they’re exciting to coach because they can do some things that others can’t. We’ll see. It’s good competition right now and we’ll see where it ends up.”

Fullback has also added some intrigue with junior Christian Mallard sliding to the spot from tailback, where he’ll join Taven Birdow, Cole Fagan and Colton Parton in competition, with returning starter Parker Wilson also set to join the fray when he returns in the fall.

“(Mallard) reminds me a little of Jacobi (Owens) when he was back there (at fullback) and was able to cut those runs back,” Worthman said. “You’ve really got a true running back with those fullback gives, so I think he’s got a real opportunity to contribute there.”

And remember, this is just on the offensive side, and only three positions at that. There will be lots to take in on Saturday.

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