Hall, a 2008 graduate, was the conference offensive player of the year in 2007
Falcons to face Rice on Dec. 29 in Forth Worth, Texas. Game televised by ESPN.
Kickoff this Saturday, Nov. 24, is 12:30 PST at Bulldog Stadium.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 at Falcon Stadium. Game to be televised by ESPN2.
Air Force-SDSU kicks off at 12:30 pm PST on Saturday, Nov. 10 in San Diego.
Steve Russ enters his sixth year at Air Force as the assistant head coach and fourth as the defensive coordinator and defensive backfield coach. Russ was the co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach previously.
Russ’ first season as the lone defensive coordinator was impressive, as he completely revamped the defense and turned it into one of the finest in the conference. Air Force improved in all four major categories that season, including a remarkable 15.8 points per game improvement to 24.2 overall which led the conference and was 72 spots higher in the national rankings (33rd). The Falcons also improved in rushing, passing and total defense, including an over 100 yard improvement in rushing defense to 135.6 yards per game. That improvement went from ranking 119th nationally to 28th, which is a 91 spot improvement. In addition, the defense improved in third down defense from 125th to 36th, quarterback sacks from 114th to 24th, tackles for loss from 129th to 42nd. The defense maintained those lofty numbers the last two seasons, ranking first or second in the conference in seven categories. The unit was No. 10 nationally in rushing and 33rd in total defense in 2016.
He also coached defensive back Weston Steelhammer to three first-team all-conference selections, an Academy first, and to a pair of All-American honors in 2016. Steelhammer also earned the East-West Shrine Bowl Pat Tillman Award for leadership and citizenship.
Russ, a 1995 Air Force Academy graduate and four-year football letterman, returned to the Academy from Wake Forest, where he coached since 2008, most recently as the secondary coach.
Prior to coaching the secondary in 2011 at Wake Forest, Russ spent his first two seasons working with the tight ends and fullbacks and was the linebackers coach in 2010. He coached at Syracuse for three seasons (2005-07) and spent four seasons as an assistant at Ohio (2001-04). Russ began his coaching career at Air Force as a graduate assistant strength coach in 1995.
While playing at Air Force, Russ earned second-team All-WAC honors in 1994 and was selected to play in both the Blue-Gray All-Star game and the East-West Shrine game following his senior season. Russ received Air Force’s Brian Bullard Award, which is the program’s highest honor, in 1994 and was a seventh-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in the 1995 NFL Draft. He is one of just seven players in Air Force history to be drafted in the NFL.
Following two years of active service in the military, Russ joined the Broncos and spent four seasons with the team and he was a part of Denver’s 1997 and 1998 Super Bowl Championship teams under the direction of head coach Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.
He began his full-time coaching career in 2001, joining the staff at Ohio University as the outside linebackers coach. Former AFA assistant coach Brian Knorr was serving as Ohio’s head coach at the time. Russ became the inside linebackers coach in 2001 and added the responsibility of coordinating special teams in 2004. In 2005, Russ moved to Syracuse as the linebackers coach and became the defensive coordinator prior to the 2007 season.
In 2008, Russ moved to Wake Forest where he coached tight ends and fullbacks in 2008-09. He coached linebackers in 2010 and the secondary in 2011. The punt coverage team, which Russ coordinated, led the nation in punt return defense, allowing just nine yards all season in 2008. When he took over the secondary in 2011, the Wake defense showed dramatic improvement. From 2010 to 2011, the pass efficiency defense improved 56 spots nationally, the third-down defense improved 52 spots nationally and the scoring defense improved 45 spots nationally. In 2011, Russ coached safety Josh Bush to first-team All-ACC and third-team AP All-America honors. Bush was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Jets. Russ also coached Merrill Noel, who was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a Freshman All-American by numerous publications as he led the country in pass break-ups.
A native of Stetsonville, Wis., Russ and his wife, Betsy, are the parents of a daughter, Mackenzie, and a son, Tyler.