October 21, 2013 Updated: October 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm
For the first time since the season opener, Air Force's choice at quarterback will be dictated by merit rather than circumstance.
Karson Roberts returned to practice Monday, so coach Troy Calhoun and his staff must choose between the sophomore and freshman Nate Romine - who appeared in relief last week and nearly led the Falcons to a victory over San Diego State.
"We'll see who practices best the next two days, just because Karson did not practice last week," said Calhoun, whose squad hosts Notre Dame on Saturday.
Roberts had been sidelined with a concussion since the first quarter of the game Oct. 10 against the Aztecs.
His departure marked the latest in a string of bad fortune at the spot for the Falcons, starting with the loss of Kale Pearson to a knee injury in the season's first half and the ineligibility of backup Jaleel Awini late in September.
This will be the first time that the Falcons will enter a game with a backup who has seen game action other than mop-up time.
Air Force also expects a fully healthy running back Jon Lee, who saw little action against San Diego State after his elbow swelled up following the previous game. Linebacker Spencer Proctor has also been cleared after a concussion.
"We'll see how everybody is after tomorrow," Calhoun said. "We're going to run into some people and we need to see how we react to it."
Receiver Ty MacArthur will not play yet again for Air Force. Calhoun wouldn't say MacArthur is out for the season, but he hasn't practiced since a concussion at Boise State on Sept. 13.
The off week has clearly helped the Falcons recover from some ills, while Notre Dame is coming off a nail-biting 14-10 victory at USC. Coach Brian Kelly said Sunday that he believed quarterback Tommy Rees would be ready to go after spraining his neck in the game.
Purely from the perspective of healthy bodies, the situation seems to favor the Falcons.
"I think this is probably the best circumstances that we can have at this point," Lee said.