Tim Jefferson actually feels pretty good.
The Air Force quarterback has been knocked around a bit this season. Against Utah, he took a hard shot to the head on a 2-point conversion and was a bit woozy. The next week against Army he was laid out by a pass rusher while releasing a throw. Last week, he left the field with blood gushing from his nose.
The latter injury is the only one that kept him on the sideline. He sat the last drive of the first half and the entire second half against New Mexico. He said he broke his nose. But he looked fine Tuesday after practicing, and was ready to get back and play again.
“I take good enough care of my body during the season, recovery wise, so I can feel fresh every week,” Jefferson said. “I feel almost as good as I did Week 1.”
Jefferson got his nose reset, and said he shouldn’t have any problems playing Thursday at UNLV. He has bounced back from every other minor issue this year.
There have been a few. He is wearing a knee brace, and seeing him coming off the field with the trainers is becoming a weekly occurrence. But the difference is that last year, he had a tougher time overcoming those injuries.
“Last year it was more frustrating, because my injuries actually slowed me down and hindered my play a lot more,” Jefferson said. “It was really frustrating because I realize how much it affected my game, and when it affected my game it affected our overall offensive performance.”
Maybe this year’s injuries aren’t as severe, or perhaps Jefferson is just better equipped to deal with them. As a junior, he has dragged himself off the mat a few times, impressing his teammates and coaches.
“He has matured as a player a lot – in years past, maybe he wouldn’t have tried to tough it out,” senior receiver Kyle Halderman said. “Now, he’s waving the trainers off, ‘I’m fine.’ He knows the team needs him. He’s not a freshman or sophomore running the team anymore. We look to him and need him, and he knows that.”
“He’s just grown up, and understands you’re going to get banged up playing quarterback here at Air Force,” quarterbacks coach Blane Morgan said.
After Air Force’s regular-season finale this week, Jefferson will have time to heal before the bowl game. Even though Connor Dietz played well on Saturday, there haven’t been any indications Jefferson won’t start at UNLV. After 11 games, he is close to making it through the entire season.
“I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Jefferson said. “That helps you keep pushing through.”