Rees is in & Nix is out for Air Force game; Lombard out for the season

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Tommy Rees is in and Louis Nix is out for the game against Air Force on Saturday, Brian Kelly announced Thursday night after Notre Dame completed its final practice before it departs for Colorado Springs. Kelly also said offensive lineman Christian Lombard is out for the season with a back injury that required surgery on Wednesday.

Nix is coming off a shoulder injury against USC and has had knee tendinitis.Earlier this week, Kelly said the option was not Big Lou's "cup of tea." Add in the fact that he's been unable to get on the field, and Kelly has decided to keep the 350 pound nose guard in South Bend.

"He's not going to travel," Kelly said Thursday. "He's not prepared to play. When you are playing an option team, you really need work and he hasn't been able to practice so we are not going to take him with us. He's moving around pretty good. He just wasn't able to take any reps. We're running against an option team and to throw him in there without being able to engage in the way you need those guys to be engaged, it doesn't make any sense to play him."

Kelly is hopeful that the extra rest will allow Nix to be ready next week against Navy. Kona Schwenke will start in place of Nix. Defensive lineman Jarron Jones due to death in the family and will meet the team in Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, a back injury will sideline offensive lineman Christian Lombard for the season. Lombard had surgery on Wednesday.

"He's had a back issue and that disc herniated in conditioning," Kelly said. "They had to go in immediately. They took about 4 centimeter herniation of the disc. He'll be lost for the season."

Steve Elmer will start in Lombard's place on the offensive line.

The good news for the Irish is that Tommy Rees will start at quarterback. Rees exited last Saturday's game against USC with a neck strain but has been able to practice all week.

"Tommy Rees had a good week," Kelly said. "Having that continuity at that position Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is always a good thing. Last year, it was kind of a an off and on situation with Everett being injured at times. It was never really a good flow for our offense. It was good to have Tommy out there. He took all the first team reps {Thursday} and looked really good."

Kelly said Rees got 25% of the reps on Tuesday while Andrew Hendrix got a good amount of the 1st team reps and freshman Malik Zaire got the most reps he's received all year. Rees took most of the 1st team reps on Wednesday with Hendrix getting some 1st team reps on a day he usually receives none. Zaire got less work Wednesday and received no reps on Thursday. Rees took all the 1st team reps Thursday.

"They're all prepared," Kelly said. "Andrew is more prepared in terms of the rep work that he got than he's ever been."

Safety Elijah Shumate will travel but won't start. He'll be used more so in an emergency situation. Matthias Farley and Austin Collinsworth will start at safety.

Notre Dame and Air Force will kickoff at 5pm Eastern on Saturday in Colorado Springs. The game will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

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