It had only been about four months since Nate Romine had been home, but much had changed in that time.

During his first four months at Air Force, Romine had completed basic training, was accepted into the cadet wing and climbed from No. 4 quarterback to the No. 1 position last week in a loss to San Diego State.

"My friends were joking around, calling me Nate Football after playing one game," said Romine, who returned home the day after his relief appearance in which he had a hand in 126 yards and two touchdowns. "I was like, 'Come on guys, I'm the same dude.'

"But it was a little bit different going home. You see things a little differently, but I still had the love and support that kind of got me here. So it was great."

Romine and his teammates largely scattered last weekend as they were given a break because of this week's scheduled open date and a game on Nov. 30 that will prevent travel over the Thanksgiving break.

Not all the players returned home, but it seems everyone enjoyed a reprieve from the daily grind.

"It's nice to take a deep breath and relax a little bit," said receiver Sam Gagliano, who remained in the area.

The break came after the Falcons played three games in three time zones over 12 days that also included midterms. They lost all three games after leading each at halftime and two by double figures in the fourth quarter.

If ever there was a team in need of time away, this is it.

"It can't hurt," center Michael Husar said. "Having a bye week is always good to get a chance to get people who are banged up a little a chance to get better."

Air Force allowed its players to leave for the weekend before reporting back to practice Tuesday. The team then spent the first two days of practice after the break preparing for the Nov.?2 game against Army before beginning work for an Oct.?26 visit from Notre Dame.

For the freshmen, particularly those like Romine who entered directly from high school, this was the only chance to go home between June and late December - and even that could be in jeopardy if the Falcons pull off an improbable run to a bowl game.

"Even though it was four months since they've been away from here, it probably felt like four years," coach Troy Calhoun said. "They're dog months in that way."