Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

No experience necessary: Air Force coach calls nose guard deepest position on defense

August 27, 2017 Updated: August 27, 2017 at 7:01 pm
0
photo - Defensive lineman Cody Gessler practices at Falcon Stadium Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Air Force Academy. Photo by James Wooldridge, The Gazette
Defensive lineman Cody Gessler practices at Falcon Stadium Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, at Air Force Academy. Photo by James Wooldridge, The Gazette 

No one currently playing nose guard for Air Force has a snap of college experience.

But with this group, Falcons coaches are willing to offer on-the-job training.

“Probably the deepest position we have right now on defense is nose guard. For sure. By far,” defensive coordinator Steve Russ said.

The three players vying for time in the rotation couldn’t be more different. There’s sophomore Mosese Fifita (6-1, 320), the biggest player in program history who is an accomplished wrestler from the Pacific Northwest. There’s  junior Cody Gessler (5-11, 263), who supplements his undersized frame with a helping of nastiness that was formed at one of the best football programs in the nation, Katy High School in the Houston area. Then there’s sophomore Kyler Ehm (6-3, 275), raised country strong in rural Kansas before attending an elite prep school in Wichita.

“I don’t know if you’d ever see a position where there were three different bodies like those three have, especially at nose guard,” coach Troy Calhoun said.

“It’s a good group,” defensive line coach Tim Cross added. “All of them have a little bit of a different dimension. Mo-Mo’s dimensions just seem to be a little bit wider than everybody else.”

Last year the Falcons played seniors Lochlin Deeks and David Harris at nose guard, with Cody Moorhead providing the third option. This explains why the current trio didn’t sniff a down of action. Though the position accounted for just 38 total tackles – including three behind the line of scrimmage – it provided the starting point for a rushing defense that allowed just 3.4 yards per attempt (16th best in the nation despite playing three option-based offenses).

But with the new wave ready, the defensive staff was free to move Moorhead to defensive tackle, where he’ll start next to this group.

It looks like Fifita and Gessler will comprise the primary rotation, but coaches are quick to include Ehm in any discussion of the position.

When it comes to the first two, it could prove a bit staggering for an offensive lineman to adjust to a 60-pound weight difference from snap to snap.

“That’s a blessing in disguise,” Gessler said. “People say I’m undersized, but I might be able to get off the ball a little quicker than someone whose 300 pounds. … (Fifita)’s just like a huge rock. That’s going to be huge having a good rotation like that.”

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.