I know I’m a couple days behind on getting out our weekly CIC MVP Award winner.
Maybe it was the jet lag for me, or the overall fatigue of a cross-country flight that got me home midway through the first half of the Air Force game on Saturday night. Or maybe it was the fact that I then proceeded to try and stay up (on east coast time) to watch the Falcons take on Hawaii until 2 in the morning, something I never would have considered doing before becoming site manager here at AAE.
Or perhaps it is simply the fact that after three days, I’m both still mesmerized by and still trying to figure out exactly who Mike Schmidt is. It might be the only time this season we get an extended look at Schmidt if Donald Hammond III returns healthy this week, and if that’s the case, well then he certainly made the most of his opportunity. The third string Falcons quarterback and senior from North Carolina, who was probably an unknown name to even some Air Force fans heading into this past weekend, was forced to step into the game after Hammond went down, and all he did was slice and dice the Hawaii defense to the tune of 267 yards of offense and 4 touchdowns.
There were other players across the three service academy teams who were worthy of the CIC MVP honor in their own right, including members of the Falcons defense, but what Schmidt was able to do was downright impressive. This was a game in which we knew Air Force was going to have to put points on the board with Cole McDonald and the Hawaii offense on the other sideline, and to step in on the first drive of the game in the redzone with your team already trailing and turn that into a 56 point performance running the offense was worthy of selection as CIC MVP.
Schmidt had one career carry for 21 yards two years ago against VMI in the stat column coming into this season. His line for Saturday: 5 for 6 passing for 147 yards and a really nice 75 yard touchdown to Geraud Sanders through the air and 120 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. It’s safe to say the Falcons have three QBs they feel comfortable winning football games with if needed the rest of the way, and for this past weekend, well the third of those three is our MVP!
Demonte Meeks, Air Force LB
Even with Schmidt’s impressive performance, I came oh so close to actually giving the nod to Meeks, who played lights out on defense for the Falcons. The Air Force linebacker had 8 tackles, including 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, as well as a forced fumble during the game. He was wreaking havoc all over the place all night, and if not for Schmidt’s performance on offense, would have probably gotten the nod as MVP this week!
Jacob Springer, Navy, Striker
The junior who occupies the Striker position for the Navy defense had an impressive game in his own right, winning AAC Defensive Player of the Week honors along the way. And really, it was the entire Navy defense that was impressive in holding USF to just 3 points on the day, continuing their climb up the defensive statistical ranks in what has been the most impressive turnaround from any team on either side of the ball this season in my opinion. Springer ended the game with 7 tackles and 3 sacks with another QB hurry.
Cole Christiansen, Army LB
Christiansen continues to anchor the Army defense and turn in big performance after big performance each week. Elijah Riley also has continued to play well in the defensive backfield for the Black Knights, but the two-time captain in Christiansen has been the rock in the middle of the linebacking corps and will be needed to continue to step up if Army hopes to turn around their season with bowl eligibility and the CIC race on the line in the coming weeks. Last weekend against Georgia State, Christiansen recorded 8 tackles, but it was his fumble recovery that got him a nod on this list. With the Panthers driving and on the Army 2 yard line, Christiansen was able to pounce on a ball early in the second quarter and give the ball back to the Black Knights offense. Unfortunately, they fumbled it back to Georgia State on the next possession, but it was still an important play in the redzone for an Army defense looking to keep the team in the game while the offense worked to get in a groove.
Milton “Tre” Bugg III, Air Force DB
Just for good measure, I’m going to throw Bugg on here as well. He absolutely deserves to be mentioned, as he had 7 tackles, a pass defended, and an INT returned for a TD during the game. But, mostly, I just wanted an excuse to get to show the clip of that pick-six again, as it is one of the craziest plays of the college football season and made an appearance at the top of the SC Top 10 plays on Sunday!