DB Boyd steps in strongly after Goff injury

BY BRENT BRIGGEMAN brent.briggeman@gazette.com



The Gazette, Colorado Springs



The sudden transformation from backup to starter on the nation’s top ranked defense hasn’t been as easy as it may appear for C.J. Boyd. On Friday, in the biggest test so far for the Air Force defense, the unit’s newest member made six tackles with a pair of pass breakups. One of the pass breakups and a pair of assisted tackles came on third-down stops, as Utah State went just 3-for-11 on third downs. “Just to have a hand in everything, it was important,” said Boyd, who replaced the injured Camby Goff at spur linebacker – also known as the nickel defensive back position – late in the season-opener. “I just had to do my job and make the plays that I needed to in order to get the other team off the field.” Goff, a two-year starter, was a preseason All- Mountain West selection by several publications. His loss to an Achilles tendon injury created a void in the secondary. “It’s either a void or an opportunity,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “(In Boyd’s) viewpoint it’s probably an opportunity.” Boyd said he didn’t prepare by himself to join the defense that leads the nation in allowing just 179.3 yards per game (every other team has given up at least 220 yards per game). Sure, that number is based off three games against teams that have a combined zero wins against FBS opponents, but Air Force also finished last year as the top team in that category. Goff has been there to provide guidance to Boyd, who also thanked his coaches. And beyond that, Boyd has reached out to a higher power. “Times when I was nervous or things overwhelmed me, I just took the time and prayed,” said Boyd, a management major from University School in Milwaukee, Wisc. “To be honest, it kept me level-headed and that’s how I was able to fit it and not miss a beat.” Boyd’s diverse abilities make him a natural for the hybrid position that is asked to perform a variety of tasks for the Falcons – sometimes near the line of scrimmage, often in the secondary. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Boyd was a three-sport standout in high school (football, basketball and as a sprinter and triple-jumper in track and field). In football played he quarterback, defensive back and was an all-conference punter. “Really good athlete,” Calhoun said. “Very bright. I don’t mean that just intellectually and what he does academically, but football just comes naturally. The other part is, he’s a strong communicator.” Air Force’s defense may need to dip into its defensive depth again this week as it prepares for a Friday evening game at San Jose State. Defensive lineman Payton Zdroik could miss time with a knee injury, a source has indicated, and cornerback Jerome Gaillard Jr. left with an apparent upper body injury in the 39-21 victory over Utah State. Gaillard’s condition is unknown.