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Injuries to fullbacks leave Air Force weighing options

October 4, 2013 Updated: October 4, 2013 at 7:51 am
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photo - Air Force quarterback Jaleel Awini hands off to running back Broam Hart in the first quarter against Wyoming Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Falcon Stadium. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Air Force quarterback Jaleel Awini hands off to running back Broam Hart in the first quarter against Wyoming Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Falcon Stadium. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

The quarterback position isn't the only key offensive backfield spot where Air Force may be down to a third-string option.

If fullback Broam Hart can't play at Nevada because of a concussion and with Hart's backup, Aaron Clinton-Earl, also out with a broken hand, the Falcons may find a workaround and play without a traditional fullback part of the time or could even slide a tailback - likely Anthony LaCoste - into the position.

"That is a possibility, yes sir," coach Troy Calhoun said when asked if LaCoste might see time at fullback.

That was news to LaCoste as of Tuesday afternoon, which itself is likely evidence that the Falcons may stick with third-team fullback Paco Solano or run alternate offensive formations that don't include a fullback.

"I know they've been running some short belly plays with tailbacks and practicing that a little," LaCoste said. "If it means more carries, why not."

Hart leads the team with 49 carries, so his potential loss could open opportunities for LaCoste, Jon Lee or someone else regardless of who lines up in the fullback spot.

The fullbacks, of course, are also asked to assist more often in blocking, which would be a reason to expect Solano, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound sophomore, or freshman D.J. Johnson to see a number of snaps at the spot they are most familiar with versus a potential newcomer like LaCoste.

That's how LaCoste sees it playing out.

"I'm sure they feel good about Paco Solano and what he can do," LaCoste said. "And we'll just be doing what we usually do."

If Air Force does change its offense because of the fullback spot, it would be about the fourth time this year it has happened. The team drastically altered game plans over the first two games, then reversed course again by primarily running the option at Boise State.

Of course, Air Force may come out in a different look in part because Karson Roberts will likely be starting at quarterback now that Jaleel Awini is ineligible because of his cadet standing and original starter Kale Pearson is lost for the season with a knee injury.

The Falcons are becoming used to filling in for lost teammates. It's part of the game, they realize.

"If one guys goes down, and you never wish that on anyone," center Michael Husar said, "but we've got great guys backing them up."

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