Even as Air Force has played one third of its season and is preparing for one of its primary rivals with a trip to Navy, internal competition continues to churn within the roster.

Last week, the Falcons swapped lineups after using the same 22 offensive and defensive starters for the first three games as left tackle Adam Jewell and left guard Colin Marquez jumped into the starting lineup.

Jewell and Marquez had been playing regularly as part of a rotation, but that was their first chance to run out with the first team.

“It definitely makes the competition more real, but I think it does push you to become a better player,” Marquez said of the ongoing push for playing time among Falcons’ linemen. “Knowing you can’t get as comfortable at a spot, or knowing this isn’t something I can always have, you’re learning from the guys in front of you. You’re not just watching yourself, you’re watching what they do. Learning from what they did right, what they did wrong. You’re always trying to push yourself because we have a lot of talented offensive linemen that could play at a moment’s notice.”

For Jewell, a junior from Pearland, Texas, it was his first career start. Marquez, a senior from Mexa, Arizona, started three games as a junior.

Air Force (3-1) had other changes to the lineup as quarterback Isaiah Sanders and defensive end Michael Purcell started, but those were prompted by injuries.

Tight end Kade Waguespack said the moves on the line didn’t disrupt continuity because the frequent rotations in games and in practice keep different combinations working together throughout the season.

“We’re a pretty fluent unit,” Waguespack said. “I’ve worked with all the guards and tackles as far as making calls. No matter who it is, we’re pretty confident we’ll get the job done.”

Coach Troy Calhoun dismissed the notion that the moves on the line constituted a change, since Marquez and Jewell had been part of rotations prior to the 41-24 victory over San Jose State and will continue to be this week against Navy – either as reserves or again as starters.

Marquez said the offensive line will face a different kind of task this week going against a Navy (2-1) defensive front that is smaller and quicker than the opponents the Falcons have been facing.

“It’s different because they are a little faster, they move around a little more,” Marquez said. “But no matter what you’re both ready to hit each other. It’s a service academy game, and in the trenches you’re both firing off, trying to take each other’s heads off.”

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