Army’s defense will get a boost by the return of senior linebacker Nate Combs.
Army coach Rich Ellerson said Combs, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and will play against Air Force Saturday at Michie Stadium.
“It’s good to have him out there,” Ellerson said. “Let’s hope he can stay out there.”
Combs was Army’s top playmaker on defense before suffering an injury late against Kent State on Oct. 13. Ellerson was hoping to get Combs, who has a team-high six sacks, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles, back by the end of the season.
Combs’ return will shift junior Jarrett Mackey back to the quick (defensive end) where he will share time with senior Zach Watts.
Sophomore fullback Larry Dixon (hip) has practiced this week. But, Ellerson is taking a wait-and-see approach on who his starting fullback will be against Air Force.
“We’ll see how effective he (Dixon) is,” Ellerson said. “He didn’t play well last week and frankly when he came out and got hurt, came back and played poorly. We shouldn’t have let him back in. That cost us a possession. We had a chance to be in a one-possession game and that might have kept us out of it. They were making us hand the ball to the fullback and after a while they (Ball State) were just splattering us. It was a 4-on-3 and they were stopping us.”
Junior Hayden Tippett filled in for Dixon and rushed for a career-high 100 yards against Ball State.
“We are not surprised by that,” Ellerson said. “We always thought Tippett is a good football player. He’s hard to tackle and he’s hard to get off his feet. He has great balance. He’s tough football player. He’s a throwback guy. You have to tackle him and if you are going to tackle him, you better bring your lunch.”