Updated: October 25, 2013 9:46PM
SOUTH BEND — Danny Spond has had Notre Dame’s trip to Air Force circled on the calendar for a long time.
Though Spond won’t be wearing pads, he’ll still be aiding the Irish.
“This has been a hallmark game in my mind, ever since I was a freshman and the schedule projected us to play in Colorado,” said Spond, who is from Littleton, Colo. “It’s something I was looking forward to. Playing or coaching, it’s going to be fun to go back to Colorado with Notre Dame.”
Spond started 11 games last season and was slated to start again at outside linebacker this season.
But he decided to retire from football in fall camp because of hemiplegic migraines over the past year. Spond remained with the team and has served as a coach/mentor to the linebackers.
“Initially it was very difficult, as anyone could imagine. It was a very emotional time, a very hard time for me and my family,” Spond said. “I told myself I had two options in this, I can either give in and let this beat me and let this define me or I could beat it, overcome it. The way that I was going to do that was give it all I had for this team. The team gave me so much, this university has given me so much, it was my job to give back any way I could.”
Player to watch: Quarterback Tommy Rees, who missed most of the second half against USC because of a strained neck, took all of the first-team reps during Thursday’s practice.
Notre Dame will win if: The Irish finish drives with touchdowns, not field goals. Air Force is 113th nationally in scoring defense (37.6 points per game).
Air Force will win if: Injuries catch up to Notre Dame. Nose guard Louis Nix III and guard Christian Lombard are among those out.
Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Air Force 17.
Staff writer LaMond Pope