Air Force senior quarterback Mike Thiessen has a strong arm, but over the last three years he showed it on the baseball field—where he has started at shortstop and centerfield for the Falcons—more than on the gridiron. Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry likes to run the option, and last season Thiessen completed 38 of a mere 83 passes for 599 yards and three touchdowns.
After finishing 6-5 in 1999, however, DeBerry realized that he had a gun and ought to use it. New offensive coordinator Chuck Petersen retooled the offense during spring practice, and the results have been stunning. Thiessen ranks eighth in the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown for 1,565 yards and 12 touchdowns. Still working out of the option, he has rushed for 623 yards and nine scores for the 7-3 Falcons, who upset Colorado State 44-40 last Saturday. Once he finishes leading Air Force in a bowl game, Thiessen will head back to the diamond and continue his superb play there. Last season he had a 33-game hitting streak and batted .424 for the 23-34 Falcons.