November 10, 2011

Combs: Shake off Air Force & Rutgers Ready

Junior linebacker Nate Combs, who faced adversity during his sophomore season, when on the first series of the first game in 2010, he was lost for the year with a knee injury.

As such, the New Albany (Ind.) native knows something about bouncing back and how imperative it is for him and teammates to shake off the team's 2nd half melt down and loss to academy rival Air Force and get ready for Rutgers on Saturday.

"That's exactly right ... that's (Air Force game) past tense and you gotta look at that as past tense and knowing that we are going to come out here and be the detailed until we are and finish a game," shared Combs, prior to the Army's practice on Thursday.

"We have to go out against Rutgers .... they're a great team too. It's one great team after another and we need to go into Yankee Stadium and be the detailed unit that we are and finish the 2nd half in order to come out with a 'W'."

But like most observers, Combs knows that 1/2 does not an entire game as witnessed against the Falcons and it will take solid effort from the opening kickoff to the final whistle to lock down a win against visiting Rutgers.

"The first half isn't going to get you that win," he adds. "We have to put the whole game together and that's what we have been working on all week. The team Sunday of course was all emotionally down, but ever since we started to get on the pads and start hitting .... I think it's already cleared and we're on to Rutgers."

This is a Rutgers' team that is coming off of an impressive come from behind win over South Florida and an Army team that will need to play with a chip on their shoulders. However, this is also a team that often has been characterized as not have swagger, especially the comparative to the 2010 team, no way can lay that claim on Combs, who always has an emotional chip on his shoulder.

"I just try to bring the intensity," says Combs. "We have some guys that have not had as many snaps as others out there. You gotta have fun and that's my main thing when I'm out there... I'm going to have fun. We're play D-1 football and if you're not going out there having fun, trying to make some plays, trying to celebrate with your brothers on the sideline, get the offense pumped up then you shouldn't be here."

"To play on Saturdays' is a big deal - that's why most of us have been playing football our whole lives. I just try to make sure that when I go out there every Saturday, that I am having fun. You have to play like it's your last play and obviously last year my season ended short. With me having hindsight of that, I think I bring that energy and that intensity to the team."

Although Combs admits that the as practice has unfolded this week, the team appears to have shaken the bug from Saturday tough loss, but that there are some real lessons to be learned from the Air Force game.

"If there is anything that I have learned from that game would be the ups and downs of the game," Combs states.

"Everybody says it, but that was a true example of it. We were up all of the first half, beating them all over the field and then we came out in the 2nd half and bad things happen. Then if felt like over and over again we were getting diced on the field. You just can't let that happen. Somebody or one side of the ball has to step up and take charge."

"As a defense, me and Coach Saadat talked about it and he said that we need to be that unit that when we get out there and if the offense is struggling, we become the offense. You know, we take a pick and take it to the house and change the game around. That's what we are hoping to do the rest of the season and especially Saturday against Rutgers."

Playing at Yankee Stadium

Last season, Army and Notre Dame went head to head in the first college football game at the new Yankee Stadium. Of course, the 6-foot-1, 224 pound Combs did not play in that contest due to his season ending injury and he was quick to point out how special it is to play in such a historical venue.

"You know I think it's an awesome opportunity and I'm not the biggest Yankee fan," shares Combs as he laughs at his own assertion. "But a lot of my friends back home are and people up here so it's an awesome experience. Knowing that the guys that have played there, it's a brand new venue and obviously there is hype around he game, but I'm focused really on the game as usual. I'm going to be focusing on my details and not be involved in what's going on around me. And that's what the team needs to do as well."

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