DeBerry looking for backup QB, Falconbacks

Updated: August 13, 2003, 10:31 PM ET

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP)-- This week is the make-or-break time for players trying for a major role on the Air Force football team.

"Our decision will be made on all of our positions by next Monday," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said Tuesday. "So this is a critical week in the development of our football team."

With 16 returning starters from last year's squad, most of the starting spots are filled. But two important positions are still wide open.

The Falcons need to find a quarterback to backup returning starter Chance Harridge. They also need two "Falconbacks," which Air Force uses like a pair of strong safeties in its 3-3-5 defensive scheme.

Junior Travis Thurmond was not even listed on the depth chart when practice began two weeks ago but has now risen to second place behind Harridge.

Thurmond, who impressed coaches during spring workouts in 2001, doesn't have varsity playing experience. He hasn't played much because of tarsal tunnel syndrom, a nagging injury similar to carpal tunnel syndrome that affects the ankle.

"Now that he's getting a good number of reps, he's beginning to develop like we thought he might," DeBerry said.

Pressing Thurmond for the backup quaterback job are a pair of sophomores, Adam Fitch and Andy Gray.

At Falconback, there are five potential starters for the two spots. The leading candidates are senior Adrian Wright and junior Grant Mallory.

The others in contention are converted sophomore wide receiver Dennis Poland, converted safety junior Tyler Hess and junior Sean Rodgers, who started four games at Falconback last season.

"Right now I think all five of them could possibly be starters," DeBerry said.

Intersquad scrimmages Wednesday and Saturday will help him finalize the starting roster.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index