The experiment was conceived with the best of intentions, but Jacobe Kendrick wasn’t destined to be an Air Force halfback. When he arrived at the academy in 2003, the backfield was crowded at halfback and fullback. So Kendrick, a natu- ral fullback, learned both positions as a freshman, figuring two shots at career advancement were better than one. Though halfback never worked out for Kendrick, there were — as with many experiments — unintended consequences. The end result might make him one of the most memorable fullbacks in Air Force history. With a cutback ability and quickness on par with many of the team’s halfbacks, Kendrick took the first step Saturday against San Diego State with 128 rushing yards on 26 carries, helping the Falcons improve to 2-0. He’ll have a chance to validate that performance today at Falcon Stadium in a Mountain West Conference showdown against Wyoming (1-1). “He made some cuts the other day that a good fullback with lesser vision would have probably just run into somebody’s back or tripped over their feet,” offensive coordinator Chuck Petersen said, referring to the San Diego State game. Though Kendrick still has a ways to go before he can rank alongside Pat Evans, Spanky Gilliam and other Air Force fullbacks who have excelled, the junior already has proven his value to the team. With inexperienced halfbacks Chad Hall and Justin Handley not yet distinguishing themselves, Kendrick has carried the load for the running game and brought a dimension that the Falcons have missed in recent years. “He’s developing a work ethic that’s similar to what Pat Evans had,” DeBerry said, making the comparison to Evans of the mid-1980s. “He’s understanding the game. He’s getting his pads down. The game is really, really important to him now. The productivity, we’ll just have to wait and see. He’s got as good of an explosiveness out of his stance as anybody we’ve ever had. Sometimes he gets by the quarterback before he can make a good read, which is all right. We ain’t ever gonna slow him down.” Kendrick is so explosive, he had a tendency early in fall practice to bounce outside the tackles whenever he got the ball instead of using his bulky 6-foot, 230-pound body to challenge the line of scrimmage. Kendrick has cut down on the freelancing, using his quickness and maneuverability within the traditional fullback role. Though he has the ability to run outside, Kendrick knows that pounding the ball inside has been key to Air Force’s two victories. “I think it does wear down defenses more,” he said. “At the end of San Diego State, you could tell in the fourth quarter they weren’t coming down as hard. They didn’t have as much punch as they did at the start.” Kendrick knows what’s next. Cutting down his yards will be the focus of a defensive game plan in the near future — if not today against Wyoming, then the next week against Utah. That strategy, Kendrick warned, should be employed at a team’s own peril. “Every team we play says they’re going to try to take the fullback out of the game,” Kendrick said. “With our passing game and our running backs, it’s going to be hard to concentrate on me. If you concentrate on one thing, you’re going to hurt yourself in other aspects of the game.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or email@example.com TODAY Wyoming (1-1, 0-0 MWC) at Air Force (2-0, 1-0), noon, 740 AM, 560 AM;
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