August 24, 2013 Updated: August 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm
An injury at nose guard has Air Force entering the season weighing different options.
On one hand, there's senior Dana Luebbe, a longtime backup and the consummate program guy. Or, the Falcons could go with David Harris, a freshman who just might have the physical tools to mask what is at this point a rudimentary understanding of the defense.
The battle is one that could lead to speculation on the state of the program - is it about winning now or building for later? But more likely the better player will get the most snaps.
"Shoot, it won't be set in stone until probably the Thursday before the game," defensive line coach Matt Weikert said.
This situation arose when Robert Green hurt his knee in the first Saturday morning scrimmage Aug.?10. The injury, which will sideline Green for at least two months, didn't change Luebbe's outlook.
"I never went into fall camp expecting to be a reserve," said the 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior from Naples, Florida. "I worked every day in the offseason to play. So I always had that mindset to be a contributor on this team."
Luebbe, who wants to one day coach high school football, has logged time in eight games during his career.
"Terrific young man," coach Troy Calhoun said of Luebbe. "He's one of those guys who stretches his ability. Really hard worker, contentious, dependable and a good teammate. He's going to play some snaps."
Then there's Harris, who even in a talented freshman class stood out from the first day of practice.
Harris - who could not speak to the media, per team preseason policy for freshman and sophomores - chose Air Force over offers from Army and Navy. At 6-foot, 240 pounds, he was timed at 4.79 seconds in the 40 in high school. He spent last season at the prep school.
"David's a very, very solid young man," Calhoun said. "Great, great attitude and tremendous work ethic. Very good strength, especially in his lower body, and a guy who uses his hands well."
Weikert added that Harris "has got some twitch to him," and "can move." Luebbe complimented his teammate's motor, saying also that "he makes us laugh, so we all like him a lot."
Harris worked with the first-team defense for a few days, but Luebbe has since leapt back in front. Weikert said Harris' main drawback is mastering the large amount of information that has been thrown at him in a short amount of time.
Either way, Air Force seems content with its choices.
"There's some depth at that position, no question," Weikert said.