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Changes in Air Force depth chart are at once obvious and momentous

Published: November 20, 2013, 2:21 am, by Brent Briggeman

Air Force’s latest football depth chart provides some small changes that might seem somewhat obvious, but are certainly noteworthy.

At the quarterback position, Nate Romine is finally listed as a starter; dropping the “—or—“ that had previously linked his name to that of backup Karson Roberts. This is far from a surprise, as Romine has seen every snap since replacing an injured Roberts on Oct. 10 and supplanting him as the starter. But the release of the depth chart was the closest that the program and coach Troy Calhoun had come to actually acknowledging the reality of the situation.

“As we go forward, if he’s healthy, there’s a very high probability that he’ll start,” Calhoun said.

With some coaches this wouldn’t be worth a mention. Romine has improved each week and really had a breakout performance in his most recent game, tossing three touchdowns and completing 10 passes in a row at one point. It’s quite apparent that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But with Calhoun such an announcement is somewhat rare. Particularly in this season that has seen four quarterbacks start for the Falcons, he has been reluctant to commit to anyone.

The other change came at tailback, where Anthony LaCoste also shed the “—or—“ he had shared with Jon Lee. Calhoun said he expects Lee to play this week after recovering from a bursa sac in his elbow, a virus and other nagging ailments. Still, the coach at last acknowledged that he is going with a featured tailback look against UNLV and that LaCoste would be the one to run it.

“I think at tailback, and even more at quarterback, I think there’s something to one guy developing some rhythm and continuity,” Calhoun said. “You feel a block, the vision that’s involved and a lot of times you’re just playing a different opponent and there might be things you see maybe in alignment or movement pre-snap in front of you and as instant as you have to make a decision at tailback. That helps.”

A look at the numbers shows that Air Force absolutely benefits from giving a running back more work. There have been 10 instances this year when a running back (Broam Hart, LaCoste and Lee) have been given 11 or more carries. In those games those runners have averaged 6.7 yards per attempt. Carries for running backs in games where they have received fewer than 10 attempts have produced an average of 4.4 yards.