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Air Force, Morgan seeking respect

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Posted: Monday December 21, 1998 08:58 AM

  Blane Morgan led Air Force to its first and last WAC championship Brian Bahr/Allsport

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Two years ago, critics said Blane Morgan would not make Air Force fans forget his elder brother, Beau, when it came to directing the Falcons' option attack.

With the younger Morgan replacing his graduated brother, the critics said Air Force would fall into decline.

In Blane Morgan's two years as a starter, Air Force has won 21 of 24 regular-season games, second only to Tennessee's 23 victories.

This season, Morgan overcame two ankle injuries to lead the Falcons to an 11-1 record, the Western Athletic Conference championship, an eight-game winning streak and a Christmas date with Washington (6-5) in Hawaii's Oahu Bowl.

Morgan says after all that, he and his Air Force teammates get about as much respect as, well, Rodney Dangerfield.

'Anytime someone doesn't give you a lot of respect - pretty much the whole country - it becomes personal,' Morgan said.

If numbers meant anything, Morgan would command plenty of respect.

He has completed 61 of 112 passes (four interceptions) for 1,144 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He has rushed 508 yards and 15 more touchdowns. His teammates have totaled 26 touchdowns. He was the WAC Mountain Division offensive player of the year.

Older brother Beau, meanwhile, is serving in the public affairs department at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. He works hopes for an early release from the Air Force so he can join the Dallas Cowboys, who signed him last year.

Blane Morgan takes great pride in Air Force's first WAC championship. He savors the fact his team won the title in the conference's last season. Air Force is fleeing the WAC in order to help establish the new Mountain West Conference, which will begin play in the fall of 1999.

'Hopefully, people will remember the conference by the last team to win it,' he said. 'We have a feeling of accomplishment. But people are only going to remember what they see from me in the bowl game.'

They should see a healthy Morgan.

He sprained his left ankle while practicing for the Oct. 10 Navy game and did not play. Just when he was getting healthy, Morgan re-injured the ankle in the first series of the WAC championship game, but played anyway.

'The break between games (19 days) is huge,' Morgan said. 'It has allowed me to rest it and get treatment. Hopefully, it will allow me to get the speed I had before I hurt it.'

That's good news for coach Fisher DeBerry.

'He's ready. He has really looked good in his pre-bowl practice,' DeBerry said of Morgan. 'He will be 100 percent by the game.'

DeBerry said all the Falcons, including center Matt Dayoc and cornerback Tony Jones (knee injuries), should be physically fit when they fly to Hawaii on Saturday.

The only way to gain the respect Air Force seeks is to stop its three-game losing streak in bowl games, Morgan said.

'We just kinda came out of nowhere this season,' he said. 'We're still not really a high-profile team. That's disturbing for a lot of guys, especially me. We want that respect.'

 
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