NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Louis Nix will not play this Saturday against Air Force. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said earlier in the week that options offenses are not Nix's "cup of tea", and Kelly announced immediately after Thursday's practice that Nix will be out of action against the Falcons in Colorado.
"He's not going to travel," Kelly said of Nix. "He's not prepared to play. When you're playing an option team you really need work. He hasn't been able to practice, so we're not going to take him with us."
Nix tweaked his shoulder last week, but returned to play against USC, but Kelly says his knee will keep him out of action this week.
"He's got more tendonitis," said Kelly. "Just soreness and hasn't really been able to get in there."
Nix has played in all 33 possible games since his Notre Dame career began in 2011. With him out, Kelly expects Kona Schwenke to get the bulk of the reps at nose guard this weekend. Kelly hopes Nix will be back next week.
Lombard Done For Year
While the news of Nix being out is big, Kelly managed to slip an even bigger announcement on Thursday. Right guard Christian Lombard will miss the rest of the season due to back surgery.
"He's had a back issue," said Kelly. "(It was) a disc and that disc herniated in conditioning. We had to go in yesterday immediately and he had a discectomy. They took out about a four-centimeter herniation of his disc, so he'll be lost for the season."
Lombard started all 13 games last season after playing in all 13 games in his first year of action in 2011. He still has ibw remaining season of eligibility after this year. With Lombard out, junior Conor Hanratty and freshman Steve Elmer will both see time at Lombard's guard spot.
In a week that started with anxiety about the quarterback position, the situation there took a back seat to the news of Nix and Lombard on Thursday. Tommy Rees missed most of the second half of Saturday's win over Southern Cal, but Rees practiced all week with his team.
"Tommy got about 25-percent of the reps (with the first-team offense) on Tuesday," Kelly said. "Andrew (Hendrix) got a good amount of the reps on Tuesday - a lot with the ones. I liked what he did. (He was) a lot more confident. Malik (Zaire) got more reps than he's gotten all year."
Rees took most of the first-team reps on Wednesday, while Hendrix took "some" reps, which Kelly says he usually does not get. Rees took all the first-team reps on Thursday, Hendrix got second-team reps and Zaire got none according to Kelly.
"They're all prepared," Kelly said of his quarterbacks. "Andrew's more prepared in terms of the rep work that he got than he's ever been."
Jones Goes Home
Sophomore defensive lineman Jarron Jones Tweeted this week that he is back in his home town of Rochester, NY. Jones has not left the team. Kelly says he went back home due to the death of a family member.
"He'll attend a service and then he will be put on a flight to Colorado Spring," Kelly said.
Brother vs. Brother
Freshman defensive lineman Isaac Rochell has played in all seven games so far this season. He will have the chance to do something this Saturday that he may never get to do again in his life - go head-to-head with his brother Matt Rochell, who is a sophomore tackle for Air Force.
"He's pretty excited about playing the game," Kelly said of Isaac. "He may even be matched-up against his brother. I wouldn't say he's looking forward to it, but he's excited about playing."
Matt Rochell is in a rotation at left tackle for the Falcons. He has started all seven games this season.
Safety Elijah Shumate will make the trip to Colorado Springs after missing last week's game with a hamstring injury.
"He won't start," said Kelly. "He's probably an emergency situation right now. It'll be (Matthias) Farley and (Austin) Collinsworth as the one-two right now."
Eilar Hardy and freshman Max Redfield would be the backups to those two more experienced safeties.
"It'll be similar to USC," said Kelly of the safety rotation. "Although Shumate is closer to helping us in an emergency situation."