Air Force Insider Brent Briggeman Unimpressed With 3-1 Start
by Graham Knight
We're about a third of the way through the season, and it's that time again to check in with our Air Force insider, Brent Briggeman, who is ringside at Air Force practice.
Graham Knight: Brent, great to have you back on the show to catch us up. We've had four games. Air Force is three and one. What's your take on where they are in the season?
Brent Briggeman: I think even though it's a 3-1 start, which, obviously, 3-1 record most people would take that . . . I think it's a disappointment at this point, just because the three wins were wins that they probably expected to have, especially after seeing what Navy has done over its games.
I think they would like to have that Utah State game back. They were up by 11 points with about six minutes left and lost the lead. It was a team they had beaten badly the last two meetings. And then again, they had an 11-point lead about four times in that game, couldn't hold on to it. So, really, I think they should be 4-0 at this point.
But, if you look where they are going forward, I think the offensive line is rolling. That was one of the big questions. I think Haaziq Daniels has answered a lot of questions at quarterback, and I think the defense, three out of four chances, has been really good. So all in all, not a major disappointment, but I think they feel like they've left a little bit on the table so far.
Graham: So, I'm hearing "leaving stuff on the table" disappointments, which leads me to connect that with question marks. When we first talked for the season preview, one of the guys you were most excited about was David Cormier. I saw a great catch of his, he came across the middle and made a nice diving catch. I haven't seen him on the highlight reels much lately. Do you know any of his back story? Is he just in development for his senior year?
Brent Briggeman: No, it's mostly just the offense. In the opener they rarely throw it much because they're playing an FCS team and they just don't need to throw it. And that was the same case last week against Florida Atlantic. They ran for 460 yards, and against Utah State, same deal.
So, they just haven't thrown it that much, and they have discovered when they are throwing, with Kyle Patterson, the tight end (although there may be an injury, so we'll see where he is moving forward) and Micah Davis has been a revelation at the slot receiver.
So I don't think it's so much an indictment of David Cormier's play so much as the opportunities just aren't there that much on the offense, and when they have been, other guys have been open. So he still presents a huge target, he's a huge weapon, he'll be there. But even in the best seasons, Air Force's top receivers don't get much more than twenty-five receptions. So you're talking about two a game, so he really isn't that off the pace so far.
But you're right . . . he certainly hasn't had a splashy first couple of games, but I don't think that's that big of a surprise.
Graham: Well, speaking of surprises, talk to me a little bit about Micah Davis. We don't remember him really being on the radar much before the season started, and then he's listed as a wide receiver, but he's dangerous on the ground as well.
Brent Briggeman: Yeah, he's been a huge surprise. He has a back story that's just amazing. He played in high school with Justin Fields, the [Chicago] Bears quarterback. They were teammates when Micah was, I believe, a sophomore and junior and Justin Fields was a senior, and his dad was a Clemson star and played in the NFL for about six or seven years.
So, he was one of these under-the-radar guys that Air Force brought in. They never talked about who they recruit or anything, so it sort of slipped under the radar. He didn't play at all last year as a freshman and now, suddenly, he's a star! He's been very active in the running game; he has a knack for turning the corner in a way that Air Force just hasn't had a lot of lately. He has a ton of athleticism: catch the ball, get open, he's just doing everything that that slot receiver position is made to do. And he's just instantly doing it at an extremely high level.
Graham: Is there anything else on your radar that's kind of piquing your interest, anything that the average Air Force fan might not have picked up on yet?
Brent Briggeman: No, it's been pretty much standard procedure. It's another standard Air Force team. It's a team that has already shown that it might struggle a little bit against a really quick passing offense. It's a team that can run the ball, can hit some of the big plays. There's really nothing totally out-of-the-ordinary with this team, except, I do think the run defense is going to end up being good enough that it's going to throw a lot of teams out of whack because they just aren't going to be able to run against this team and they're going to have to beat Air Force through the air. Utah state showed that it could do that. I don't know that everybody's going to have the accuracy in the passing game or the receivers that can go get it that Utah state had.
But, in terms of personnel . . . T.D. Blackman at linebacker -- and a lot of these guys we hadn't seen yet because they took turn backs last year -- he's been as advertised. Trey Taylor at safety finally made his debut last week after an illness . . . he was excellent. There is a lot of high-end talent. We just need to see them getting going regularly against better competition than what they've seen so far, because really Navy's down. So they've really only seen one really good team -- that was Utah State -- and they did not answer the bell to that one.
So, we'll see moving forward. They're not going to get that test this week, probably, at New Mexico . . . but after that, it's Wyoming, Boise State, Army shortly after that. It's a lot of really big contests coming up.
Graham: As we wrap this up, let's just give our fans just a quick preview of the Air Force-Army game. Based on what happened with Air Force-Navy, what are you expecting out of the match-up coming up in Arlington, Texas?
Brent Briggeman: It's going to be fantastic. The winner of that game will retain the [Commander In Chief's Trophy]. Well . . . Army would retain it, Air Force would win it. So that trophy is going to reside with whoever wins this game, and Army's playing excellent. You saw what they did to UConn, the same UConn team that Wyoming barely beat, and Army just blew the doors off that game. So Army, man, they are they are running on all cylinders.
And Air Force has really been pretty good. I know I sound a little down on them, but they've won three of their games by three scores or more. So Air Force is going to be good and they're going to be even better by the time they get to that game because Haaziq Daniels will had a little more experience under his belt at quarterback, the line will be a little more cohesive and the defense will be a little more in sync.
So, I think it's going to be two service academy teams that are as good as we've seen in a while, and with everything at stake, it's going to be a fantastic game, and on a neutral field, too, in Dallas. So everything you would want in a service academy match-up is what we're probably going to get in that game.
Graham: All right, terrific. Well, Brent, we'll have to catch up with you after that. For people who want to follow your reporting, where's the best place for them to track you? On Twitter? Is it through the Gazette in Colorado Springs? For anyone who wants to follow Air Force and follow you, what's the best way to keep track?
Brent Briggeman: Well, if you're here in town, just pick up a print paper. But no, Gazette.com is the best place to start. Follow me on Twitter @BrentBriggeman, but I realize my name is probably a little difficult to spell. So just go to Gazette.com, you'll find everything I've written up there and you can catch yourself up on the season.
Graham: All right, Brent. Well, thanks for taking us ringside today. We look forward to continuing the conversation and future opportunities., and we'll be right back with more "Behind The Lines" right after this.