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David Ramsey: Nate Romine will be blessed with another day as Air Force's lead quarterback

April 13, 2017 Updated: April 13, 2017 at 4:28 pm
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photo - Air Force quarterback Nate Romine will be called upon to lead the Falcons again according to David Ramsey.
Air Force quarterback Nate Romine will be called upon to lead the Falcons again according to David Ramsey. 

Nate Romine will enjoy another day as Air Force's lead quarterback. He will run on the field blessed and burdened with the task of directing the Falcons complicated attack.

This proclamation is not a statement that affirms Romine's superiority over Arion Worthman. It's a statement that affirms reality.

Worthman averaged 22 carries in his five starts last season. The man loves to call his own number.

But Worthman's love of calling his own No. 2 is filled with peril. Worthman is likely to suffer injury in 2017, meaning coach Troy Calhoun will need a relief pitcher named Nate.

I'm not alone in this dire expectation for the future. Offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen shares the view.

"To be honest with you, when's the last time a quarterback made it through the season here?" Thiessen asked last week.

Here's the answer, Mike: The 2012 season when a Connor Dietz barely managed to drag his banged-up body through 12 starts.

Since then, injuries have been the norm. Four quarterbacks, including Romine, started in 2013. Two quarterbacks, including Romine, started in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Injuries to Kale Pearson and Karson Roberts vaulted Romine into the starting job in 2013, and an injury to Romine in 2016 against Fresno State opened the door to Worthman.

You think a healthy version of Worthman will start, and finish, every game in 2017?

Then you're a lost-in-the-clouds optimist.

Here's the more probable scenario:

"At some point, we're going to need Nate to go out and win a football game for us, or maybe 10," Thiessen said.

Romine will excel in his relief role, despite his struggles in 2016 when he never quite found his groove. Worthman is sensational as a runner, but his field vision is spotty, leaving him with a disturbing tendency to miss seeing receivers standing alone in the end zone. Romine remains the team's best passer, even if he endured a lost 2016 season.

He was horrific in losses to Wyoming and Hawaii, and the prime reason the Falcons stumbled to three consecutive losses. He completed only 42 percent of his passes, leaving him with a shaky hold on the starting job.

After Romine suffered an ankle injury against Fresno State, Worthman immediately seized control of the offense, and talking literally about the seizing. Worthman carried the ball 19 times on his first 29 snaps.

Worthman led the Falcons to six straight wins while Romine watched from the bench.

"Sometimes you got the momentum as a team rolling and sometimes you don't," Romine said of his 2016 struggles. "It's a team effort, but, yeah, you want plays back."

Which plays does Romine wish he could get back?

"Ah, nothing really off the top of my head," Romine said. "I could sit down if you want to watch film together. I'm sure I could find some."

I'm sure, too, Nate. I look forward to our film session. I'll bring the popcorn.

We never saw the true Romine in 2016. He never looked comfortable, and his arm never revealed its usual accuracy.

Why? He was recovering from a horrific knee injury that forced him to miss most of the 2015 season and gave him the upcoming season as a medical redshirt. He was never quite himself.

Better to remember the conclusion of the 2014 regular season when he replaced the injured - there's that word again - Pearson to lead the Falcons against nationally ranked Colorado State. Romine was sensational on Air Force's final drive, setting up the game-winning field goal. You could argue, and I would, that the victory ranks as the most important triumph of the Calhoun era, which began in 2007.

Romine's football life has been chaotic since then, filled with injury and turmoil. He says his approach never has changed.

"I treat everything like I'm the starter," Romine said. "You prepare like you do whether you're the eighth guy on the depth chart or the starter. If my number gets called, I'll be ready."

I believe him. Don't worry, Nate. Your number will be called.

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