Notre Dame junior defensive tackle Louis Nix III will miss Saturday's game at Air Force with a shoulder injury suffered in last week's win over USC.
The injury might not have kept him out of a game against another opponent. Air Force (1-6), which has lost six in a row, uses a triple-option offense. Nix (6 feet 2, 357 pounds) also has been bothered by tendinitis in his knee, and early this week, coach Brian Kelly said Notre Dame "needs Big Lou going forward" and that "option football is not [Nix's] cup of tea."
"There's a lot of low blocking, a lot of cut blocking," Kelly told reporters. "Just for a big guy, that's not the game you'd like to play. He's going to be going against the guy who is 245 pounds. And he's probably going to be fending off cut blocks most of the game."
Kona Schwenke, who also can play end, is expected to start in the middle, but look for defensive end Stephon Tuitt to move inside at times against the Falcons. Tuitt has had success against triple-option offenses before; he had four tackles, including two for losses, in the 2012 opener against Navy, and in 2011, Tuitt had seven tackles against Navy and five tackles against Air Force.
The Irish also will be without starting guard Christian Lombard, a junior who will miss the rest of the season with a back injury. True freshman Steve Elmer will start in his spot.
Kelly also announced that senior Tommy Rees, who missed part of last week's win over USC with a neck strain, would start at quarterback. Kelly said Rees took all the first-team practice reps Thursday.
"Tommy Rees had a good week. Having that continuity Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday is always good for the unit," Kelly said after practice.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.