Subpar performance did in Air Force, coach says

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 21 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

Fisher DeBerry used a baseball analogy to describe Air Force's 29-28 loss to Wyoming last week.
The dean of Mountain West Conference football coaches, in the midst of his 22nd year at the helm, said it was like a batter striking out with the bases loaded.
"We just didn't make plays when we needed to," DeBerry said as the Falcons prepared for Thursday night's game at Utah.
The most glaring shortfalls came on special teams where a bad snap led to a missed extra point. It ultimately proved to be the difference as the Falcons fell to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Earlier in the game, a 16-yard punt led to a Wyoming field goal. A poor kickoff also compounded matters in the contest.
"It's not the consistency factor we'd like to have in our kicking game. That's for sure," DeBerry said. "But those kind of things happen."
Same goes, he said, for an uncharacteristically high number of penalties. Air Force was flagged eight times for 50 yards in the setback.
The combination of ill-timed poor execution and frequent penalization surprised DeBerry. However, he added, those kind of things do happen.
After missing both of his field goal attempts (from 40 and 30 yards out) a week earlier against San Diego State, kicker Scott Eberle didn't try any against Wyoming. Punter Donny Heaton has also struggled. He averages 34.8 yards after eight kicks, pinning just one inside the 20 this season. A year ago, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Heaton nailed a record-setting 90-yard punt on the Utes.
Air Force's defense also had a subpar outing — albeit down the stretch — against Wyoming. The Falcons allowed the Cowboys to score with 1:25 remaining after the offense had taken the lead just over two minutes earlier on an 18-yard pass play from quarterback Shaun Carney to wide receiver Jason Brown.
Known for their famed triple-option scheme, the Falcons are capable of throwing the ball as well. Carney has the league's second-best pass efficiency rating and diverts some attention off of the ground game.
"Air Force is going to give us all we can handle," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

IN OR OUT?: When game officials opted to keep the clock running when Brian Hernandez clearly stepped out of bounds late in Thursday's overtime loss at TCU, it forced Whittingham to use a timeout. In Monday's league teleconference with the media, the Utah coach was once again asked about the sequence.
"I didn't agree with the call and I still don't. But we're not going to whine about the refereeing," Whittingham said. "It's our fault for putting ourselves in position to be in that spot at the end of the game. We should have taken care of business."

EXTRA POINTS: The North Carolina game on Oct. 1 will kickoff at 11:30 a.m., MT, and be broadcast on KJZZ, Ch. 14 . . . Return specialist Justin Walker is still battling a sleep disorder and will be sidelined until the situation is rectified . . . This will be Utah's third game in 11 days.

E-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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