Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney on Tuesday halted any speculation he might leave the academy after this season. “I’ll be back,” Carney said. “There’s no doubt about it.” Carney, a sophomore, will finish his second season as the team’s starting quarterback on Nov.
19 at New Mexico. Air Force is off this week after last Saturday’s 27-24 loss to Army, which dropped the Falcons to 3-7. By coming back next season, Carney will sign on for a five-year military commitment following graduation, as do all cadets before they start their junior years at the academy. Carney could leave before the start of school next summer with no military commitment. A handful of high-profile Air Force players have left the program before their junior years. The most noteworthy recent example was linebacker Anthony Schlegel, who transferred to Ohio State following the 2002 sea-son and starts for the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, coach Fisher DeBerry, who has given every indication that he will return, said Tuesday the coaching staff might do the same. Asked Tuesday if he might shake up the staff before next season, DeBerry responded: “I think I’ve got the best coaching staff I’ve ever had, and I mean that very sincerely. The coaches don’t play.” Carney, a native of North Olmsted, Ohio, ended up at Air Force because he wasn’t highly recruited by other Division I-A programs. But Carney has proven a lot of those recruiters wrong and could wind up as Air Force’s best passer since the program went to an option offense in 1982. Carney said he wasn’t interested in talking to other programs about transferring. “I wouldn’t ever think about anything like that,” Carney said. “It’s a big day when you come back your junior year, but I’m not too worried about it. I don’t have to think about that at all.” Carney has completed 61.8 percent of passes over two seasons. But he also has several ill-timed interceptions and he has lost six fumbles. A fumble last week against Army was the only black mark on a performance in which Carney ran for 104 yards and passed for 194. He completed 16 of 21 passes. Carney was given the freedom against Army to call most of the plays from the field. “He had the feel of the game so we let him run the game,” coach Fisher DeBerry said. “He really played a fine football game and I thought he was in control the whole time.” Despite a good statistical year, Carney recognizes he’s got to improve to help the Falcons win more games next year. “What I can control are the penalties and turnovers, and that’s what I’m going to worry about,” Carney said. “If you went back and looked at all our turnovers and penalties, we’d be having a completely different conversation. That’s not necessarily on coaching. That’s on us. Those are things we can control. Our record would be completely different, but it isn’t.” Carney returning as starting quarterback next season is one of the few apparent certainties for Air Force following this season. DeBerry said after Saturday’s game that he would “re-examine a lot of things” in the program. Air Force rearranged its coaching staff after last season following the departures of three assistants. Tim Horton moved from receivers to running backs coach. Dean Campbell moved from running backs coach to the secondary. Air Force hired Brian Knorr to coach the Falcon backs and Pete Hurt to coach the offensive line. Blane Morgan was promoted to receivers coach after coaching the junior varsity the three previous seasons. Tom Miller, who had dual roles coaching special teams and Falcon backs, dropped the latter to focus on the kicking game. “I think we strengthened our staff by doing what we did, very much so,” DeBerry said Tuesday. “I don’t think there’s any question.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or firstname.lastname@example.org NEXT Air Force (3-7, 2-5 MWC) at New Mexico (5-4, 3-3), 12:30 p.m. Nov. 19, 740/560 AM