Brad Roberts sounded like he was breaking out in a children’s song when explaining the parts of his body that feel better.
Head, shoulders, knees and toes…
“Shoulders, knees, pretty much everywhere I get hit,” said the Air Force fullback, who has logged the third-most carries in the nation and most for a Falcon in 51 years. “I’m just kind of getting the bruises out; the scrapes out. I feel a lot better.”
If any Air Force player will benefit from a month off, it might be Roberts, who has rushed 278 times for 1,275 yards (an average of 106.2 per game, which ranks 10th nationally).
The Falcons last played on Nov. 26 against UNLV. They play again on Tuesday in the First Responders Bowl in Dallas against Louisville.
“I am very excited for that,” said Roberts, an Aurora native. “Having the time off has been great, letting my body heal. I’m very excited to show what I can do.”
Roberts was the first Air Force running back to lead the Mountain West in rushing and/or earn first-team All-Mountain West since Chad Hall in 2007.
The workload and injuries took a toll midseason, as Roberts averaged 13 carries and 48 yards in games against San Diego State and Army. But he rebounded over the final three games, averaging 26 carries and 122 yards in wins over Colorado State, Nevada and UNLV.
“The opponent’s going to have that too,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said of the advantages of the month between games. “It’s going to be the same for both teams. But sometimes having a break can be a benefit.”
The break will not only allow the Falcons to rejuvenate, but it will also allow a handful of players to return. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels, tailback DeAndre Hughes and slot receiver Dane Kinamon all missed the last game but are listed as starters on the depth chart. Backup fullback Omar Fattah hasn’t appeared since the game at Army but is also listed. Linebacker TD Blackmon, who has missed four games this season, including the last one, should also be available.
Perhaps the most surprising addition could be slot receiver Micah Davis, the sophomore who averaged 104.2 yards per scrimmage over the first seven games. Davis was lost to what The Gazette reported as a season-ending injury against San Diego State, though that might need to be modified to “regular-season ending” as he has returned to practice and could play against the Cardinals at Southern Methodist’s Ford Stadium.
“Guys would certainly have to prove not just to us but to themselves as much as anybody that their body’s in the shape to be able to go out there and play,” Calhoun said.