College cornerbacks have to be fast, agile, intelligent and able to read a wide receiver’s steps on the fly.
Great college cornerbacks have something different, something more. They are recruited for their ability to smell blood in the water – to recognize a struggling quarterback and to move in for the kill.
And struggling is just what CSU quarterback Caleb Hanie has seemed to be doing lately, throwing 27 interceptions in his 28 career games, including at least one interception in his last eight games.
For Air Force cornerback Carson Bird, the blood is in the water.
“You never want to see a guy struggle,” Bird said. “Regardless of how he’s playing, we have to make plays. But it definitely crosses your mind.”
Bird is a senior corner for the Falcons with a long history of frustrating quarterbacks. Already this season, Bird has recorded a team-high three interceptions and two pass deflections. Perhaps most impressive is his ability to find the football help defend the run, recording 30 tackles (17 solo tackles) in the last six games.
Even though the Rams are struggling right now, Bird said Air Force is not looking past CSU. In fact, the Rams are 3.5 point favorites, but if Las Vegas set a spread based on emotions, Bird and the Falcons could be easily be laying the points.
“We’re making a point of not looking past them,” Bird said. “I know their capable, that’s what makes them dangerous.”
Last year Air Force beat the Rams 24-21, setting off the current 12-game losing streak and 9-game conference skid. With 12 of their last 17 matchups decided by ten points or less, the “friendly” intrastate rivalry has the potential to go either way.
Bird said that he was disappointed that this year’s game wasn’t played on a Thursday, as it has been the last few years, but he knows that the fans will still turn out in droves to support the Interstate-25 rivalry.
“It’s not one of those things where we hate each other, we just always seem to play good games,” Bird said. “It was always cool (to play on Thursday night). But that’s part of football. I don’t think it will be much of a change. I just hope people come out and watch.”
Sports writer Nick Hubel can be reached at email@example.com.
Hometown: Sharpsburg, GA
By the Numbers:
100 – Career Tackles
5 – Career Interceptions
1 – Games missed in the last four years