Jared Tew left Qualcomm Stadium on crutches, with a massive boot on his injured right leg. With Tew sidelined with a broken fibula for at least the next six weeks, Air Force’s offense will have a much different identity.
The problem might not be new starting fullback Nathan Walker, who has scored four touchdowns and as a senior, brings a lot of experience to the offense. There’s not much experience behind him though. Ryan Southworth is the new backup fullback. Mike DeWitt went down with a knee injury in camp and is still a few weeks off. Freshman Brent Michaels has one carry for five yards all year.
“We’re going to have to find a little more depth now,” quarterback Tim Jefferson said.
And even though Walker is capable, there was a reason Tew was the starter. He was coming off a 970-yard season, and after being named to the preseason all-Mountain West team, was on pace for a 1,000-yard season. He had a bit more breakaway speed and big-play ability than Walker.
The Falcons also lost receiver Zack Kauth for about three more weeks with an ankle injury, so the injuries are piling up.
“We’re going to march,” Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said. “That’s what soldiers do, they march.”
With a 27-25 loss at San Diego State, Air Force’s season lost some luster. The Falcons dropped out of the polls, and winning the Mountain West – while far from impossible – got a lot tougher. Air Force probably needs to win at TCU this week, and again next week against Utah. TCU and Utah are undefeated and ranked fourth and ninth, respectively, in this week’s Associated Press poll.
Calhoun said this year’s TCU team is the best he has seen during his time in the Mountain West. On Sunday, he was more concerned about his own team improving than the next opponent.
“We’re a workman group all the way,” Calhoun said. “We’re not a finished product for sure.”