AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. The biggest question entering coach Troy Calhoun's second season at Air Force is who will replace quarterback Shaun Carney, who took virtually every snap over the last four years?
The answer isn't quite clear just yet.
Shea Smith will get the start Saturday when the Falcons face Southern Utah at Falcon Stadium, but Eric Herbort will get some snaps, too.
"I think initially that's the plan," Calhoun said. "Whether I will do that in weeks 10, 11 and 12, that's probably a little far down the road but to start, yes sir, we'll do that."
The two quarterbacks have big shoes to fill. Carney is Air Force's career leader in total offense (7,952 yards), passing yards (5,391) and touchdown passes (39). He is fifth with 2,561 yards rushing.
Smith and Herbort are virtually inexperienced quarterbacks.
Smith completed 4-of-12 passes for 45 yards while appearing in six games last year. He came in at the end of the third quarter of the bowl game against California and finished the game after Carney was injured.
Herbert didn't play a down in 2007.
"They typically have a smart quarterback," Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb said. "I assume that if they hadn't settled on one, that they both are of the typical Air Force mold."
Lamb, a first-year coach, has a more favorable situation. He inherited an experienced quarterback in senior Cody Stone, who started three of the six games he played in last year, throwing for 1,262 yards with seven touchdown passes.
"Cody has some real potential and he can be very good," Lamb said. "He is very good at running our offense and getting us in the right place."
Another question Calhoun needs to get answered is who will replace Chad Hall, the multifaceted player who has moved on to his military career. Again, there's no clear successor and even a bevy of backs aren't going to provide what Hall did.
"I don't think you are ever going to have a carbon copy of a Chad Hall," Calhoun said. "So with the guys you do have, you try to find what they can do pretty well from a strength standpoint."
Hall, the Z-slotback/punt and kickoff returner, provided 2,683 yards of total offense and 16 touchdowns a year ago.
Air Force is 12-0 in games played against lower tier teams such as the Thunderbirds of the Great West Football Conference. Yet, Calhoun insists he won't be holding anything back from his play book, even with a trip to Wyoming looming next week.
"We're going to play with everything we have every week," Calhoun said. "At the Air Force Academy, I don't think we'll ever be in a position where we can keep a couple of the tricks in the back of our pocket."
The Falcons finished 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the Mountain West last season and lost 42-36 to California in the Armed Forces Bowl. Southern Utah was 0-11 last year.